National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems

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The National Blue Ribbon Commission advances best management practices to support the use of onsite non-potable water systems within individual buildings or at the local scale. We are committed to protecting public health and the environment, and sustainably managing water—now and for future generations.

Water supplies are strained, climates and weather patterns are changing, and populations are moving and growing. The US Water Alliance has partnered with the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation and Water Research Foundation to establish the National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems to progress innovative solutions for water management. Onsite water systems collect wastewater, stormwater, rainwater, and more, and treat it so that it can be reused in a building, or at the local scale for non-potable needs such as irrigation, toilet flushing, and cooling. These systems are usually integrated into the city’s larger water and wastewater system and contribute to a more resilient and sustainable water management by using alternate water sources, reducing valuable potable water used for non-potable purposes, and minimizing strain on wastewater systems.

Despite the broad range of benefits, adoption of onsite non-potable systems has been constrained by policy and regulatory barriers. To address this, the commission will develop state and federal guidance and policy frameworks based on best practices underway in local communities and world-class research in order to support local implementation of onsite non-potable water systems. The commission will also identify new opportunities for water utilities to facilitate implementation of onsite non-potable systems.

Over two years, the commission will undertake the following activities to achieve its project goals:

  • Serve as a forum for collaboration and knowledge exchange. As the field of onsite non-potable water systems is evolving, the commission is committed to staying abreast of new science and new approaches. We are inclusive of input from interested stakeholders as we learn together and share policy approaches, best management practices, and standards for onsite non-potable systems.
  • Identify new business models for water utilities. The adoption of onsite non-potable water systems presents new business opportunities for water utilities and the private sector. We will explore and summarize emerging business models for water utilities in the design, development, integration, and operation of onsite non-potable water systems.
  • Craft model state guidance and policy framework for distributed non-potable water programs. To foster a policy and regulatory environment that supports local implementation of onsite non-potable water programs, the commission will develop model state guidance and policies (e.g., water quality criteria, monitoring and reporting requirements, and operational and permitting strategies) based on risk-based science and research that protects public health and honors local context.
  • Develop federal guidelines to support distributed non-potable water programs. The commission will develop and disseminate actionable federal guidance for best management practices to support adoption of onsite non-potable water systems for consideration by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Identify additional research needs in the field. Additional research needs, will be prepared by the commission along with national research partners.