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Wastewater - Reclaimed Water

When and how to reuse treated wastewater safely.

Reclaimed water is wastewater processed with advanced treatment so that it can be reused safely for applications such as landscaping, irrigation, and toilet flushing.

Frequently Asked Questions

We get plenty of precipitation in Massachusetts. Why is water reuse important?

It is good environmental policy to reuse water whenever possible. Overall as a state we get adequate rainfall, but there are areas where rapid growth has created stress in many water resource areas, including aquifers, rivers, ponds and wetlands. For example, in parts of the Ipswich and Charles River basins, demand has exceeded supply and water use restrictions have been implemented. A return of drought conditions similar to those in the 1960's would further compound the problem.

Do I need a permit to use reclaimed water?

Yes, an individual reclaimed water permit is required - Application Form WP 84.

If there is a discharge to the ground along with the reuse, then a groundwater discharge permit is required - Application Form WP 79.

How many water reuse projects are there in Massachusetts?

MassDEP has approved nearly a dozen projects, including Gillette Stadium, the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, watering at golf courses, and reuse at manufacturing and office facilities.

How does MassDEP regulate reclaimed water projects?

In March 2009, MassDEP promulgated 314 CMR 20.00 - Reclaimed Water Permit Program and Standards. These regulations authorize MassDEP to establish a permitting program for the use of reclaimed water inclusive of the requirements for use, sale, and distribution of reclaimed water.

What are the allowable uses for reclaimed water?

Cooling water, toilet and urinal flushing, boiler feed, industrial process water and irrigation to golf courses, parks, agricultural fields, landscaped areas and cemeteries are all allowed under 314 CMR 20.00.

What are some potential new uses for reclaimed water?

Uses in other states and that are being evaluated here include irrigation of parks and playgrounds, landscaping in nonresidential developments and cemeteries, highway landscaping, and cooling water. MassDEP has not yet made decisions on allowing additional uses.

What are MassDEP standards for reclaimed water projects?

The controlling factor in reclaimed water is the protection of public health. For this reason, the water to be reused must be virtually pathogen- and contaminant-free. MassDEP's Reclaimed Water regulations ensure that this standard is met by:

  • Requiring that the public be informed that reclaimed water is in use.
  • Requiring wastewater treatment plants producing reclaimed water to maintain a high level of treatment with redundant mechanical systems and backup power.
  • Requiring comprehensive monitoring of both the wastewater effluent and the groundwater to demonstrate that standards are met.
  • Per 314 CMR 20.17, the uses of reclaimed water are categorized as a Class A, B, or C with Class A requiring the most stringent limits. For Class A, tests for fecal coliform must show a median of zero, with no test results greater than 14 parts per million.

Additional Resources for Frequently Asked Questions

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