Cost of Water Reuse Projects

Investing in a water reuse system is a complex decision with both costs and benefits that extend many years into the future. Generally, water reuse is more expensive than drawing water from a natural freshwater source, but less expensive than seawater desalination. In many cases, lower-cost water sources are already being used, so the cost of water reuse should be compared with the cost of any available new water sources. The costs of water reuse vary greatly from place to place depending on location, water quality requirements, treatment methods, distribution system needs, energy costs, interest rates, subsidies, and many other factors.

Potable reuse systems can be more or less expensive than nonpotable reuse systems. Nonpotable reuse may require less treatment, depending on the intended use of the reclaimed water, and can also reduce the peak demand on a potable system, which can be a huge factor on water use in arid locations. However, nonpotable reuse also typically requires a separate piping system, which can be a significant expense depending on where and how far the -nonpotable water must be distributed.

Water managers should also consider non-monetary costs and benefits of reuse projects, such as increased water supply reliability in times of drought, greenhouse gas emissions, and ecological impacts, to determine the most socially, environmentally, and economically feasible water supply option for their community.