Study Finds Reclaimed Water Quality Similar to Other Water Types

May 7, 2009
WateReuse Foundation study tested reclaimed/recycled water, surface water and groundwater

A new WateReuse Foundation water quality study found that reclaimed/recycled water, surface water and groundwater were more similar than dissimilar when tested for the presence of 244 representative constituents, 89 of which were not found in any samples. When detected, most constituents were in the parts per billion and parts per trillion ranges.

DEET (a bug repellant) and caffeine were found in all water types and in virtually all samples. Triclosan (in anti-bacterial soap and toothpaste) was found in all water types, but detected in slightly higher levels in reclaimed water versus surface water or groundwater. Very few hormones/steroids were detected in samples, and when detected, were at very low levels. Halocedic acids (a disinfection byproduct) were found in all types of samples, even groundwater. The largest difference between reclaimed water and the other waters appears to be that reclaimed water has been disinfected and thus has disinfection byproducts (due to chlorine use).

The project was published by the WateReuse Foundation with funding from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Bureau of Reclamation and partnering utilities in Florida and California. The project was managed by CH2M HILL and involved researchers from U.S. Geological Survey, University of Miami and Florida International University.

The complete results can be found in the report titled “A Reconnaissance-Level Quantitative Comparison of Reclaimed Water, Surface Water, and Groundwater,” which is available from the WateReuse Foundation. Copies of the report may be ordered online at

Source: WateReuse Foundation