Not all of the ways we use water require treatment to meet drinking water (potable) standards. Why irrigate with potable water when in some places there’s an alternative?
Committed to innovation, cost conscientiousness and environmental stewardship, in 2001 Cary became the first municipality in the state to pump reclaimed water to several hundred homes and businesses for non-potable uses such as irrigation, manufacturing processes, industrial cooling, non-residential toilet flushing and dust control at construction sites. Cary delivers approximately 1 million gallons of reclaimed water on a peak day and up to 20 million gallons of reclaimed water during a summer month to customers within designated service districts.
Each year in February, the Town of Cary temporarily shuts down all of its reclaimed water systems to perform routine maintenance and inspections. Assuming no significant repair issues arise during the system inspection, the use of reclaimed water is suspended for 10 days. Reclaimed water customers are given advanced notice.
Reclaimed water is a valuable resource produced from wastewater that is highly treated using not only a biological nutrient removal and filtration process, but disinfection with ultra-violet light and Sodium Hypochlorite. The State of North Carolina permits Cary to divert a total of about 5 million gallons per day from our two treatment plants water reclamation facilities) for reuse rather than discharging into creeks.
By lessening the amount of drinking water that ends up on lawns and other landscaping, use of reclaimed water reduces the maximum daily demand from the Cary/Apex Water Treatment Facility. This extends the time before we need to expand the water treatment facility and increases the reliability of our drinking water supply. It also allows us to fulfill our commitment to the Neuse River Foundation to reduce the nutrients going into streams and helps us comply with our Interbasin Transfer certificate from the state.
Benefits to reclaimed water customers include:
- Saving money because reclaimed water rates are less than the lowest irrigation rate
- Exemption from Alternate Day Watering Ordinance
The reclaimed water system includes pipes that run parallel to pipes carrying water for potable uses (like drinking, cooking bathing or washing clothes) and can be identified by purple pipe, tape, or signs. The system serves customers in designated service districts near the North Cary Water Reclamation Facility (NCWRF) and the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility (SCWRF). Beginning in 2012, the Durham County Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant began providing reclaimed water to customers in the Wake County portion of Research Triangle Park and, as of 2015, to the Town of Cary’s Thomas Brooks Park. The park is the site of the USA Baseball national training center. Check the project status.
Bulk Reclaimed Water Program
In addition to the piping system, the North Cary WRF and the South Cary WRF each have a bulk reclaimed water distribution center. The Town makes reclaimed water available at no charge under certain conditions to customers who take at least 250 gallons after completing required hour long training.
Reclaimed Water for Cooling Towers
Reclaimed water is a cost effective and viable alternative water source for cooling towers within the reclaimed water service district. This primer describes important points to consider during the planning, design and management phases to help ensure the satisfactory long-term operation of your cooling tower using reclaimed water.
- EPA guidelines for Water Reuse
- Independent research and industry best practices from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Reclaimed Water Coordinator