Alexandria, Va. — Prolonged and severe droughts and other factors have made water supplies increasingly scarce in California, Texas, and many other regions of the United States, as well as elsewhere around the globe. A viable and affordable solution for many communities is to turn their wastewater into purified drinking water, according to a new WateReuse Research Foundation White Paper.

In “The Opportunities and Economics of Direct Potable Reuse” (WRRF-14-08), Robert S. Raucher, Ph.D., of Stratus Consulting and George Tchobanoglous, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis find that potable water reuse is generally less expensive than — or comparable in cost to — the potential alternative sources of new water supply available to communities in places such as California. Potable reuse also compares favorably with other new water supply alternatives in terms of energy requirements, environmental considerations, and reliability.

Potable Reuse refers to reused water you can drink. It’s purified sufficiently to meet or exceed federal and state drinking water standards and is safe for human consumption. The cost of potable reuse depends on many site-specific factors but is expected to be on the order of $820 to $2,000 per acre foot (about $2.52 per 1,000 gallons at the low end and up to $6.14 per 1,000 gallons), according to the whitepaper.

In California, the whitepaper finds that purified wastewater can provide enough potable water to supply all municipal needs (including commercial and industrial uses) for more than 8 million people, or roughly one-fifth of the state’s projected population for 2020.

To learn more about the economics of potable reuse, download the free whitepaper at