Modeling the energy consumption of potable water reuse schemes

Emily W. Tow, Anna Letcher Hartman, Aleksander Jaworowski, Ines Zucker, Soyoon Kum, Mojtaba AzadiAghdam, Ernest R. Blatchley, Andrea Achilli, Han Gu, Gulsum Melike Urper, David M. Warsinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Potable reuse of municipal wastewater is often the lowest-energy option for increasing the availability of fresh water. However, limited data are available on the energy consumption of potable reuse facilities and schemes, and the many variables affecting energy consumption obscure the process of estimating energy requirements. By synthesizing available data and developing a simple model for the energy consumption of centralized potable reuse schemes, this study provides a framework for understanding when potable reuse is the lowest-energy option for augmenting water supply. The model is evaluated to determine a representative range for the specific electrical energy consumption of direct and indirect potable reuse schemes and compare potable reuse to other water supply augmentation options, such as seawater desalination. Finally, the model is used to identify the most promising avenues for further reducing the energy consumption of potable reuse, including encouraging direct potable reuse without additional drinking water treatment, avoiding reverse osmosis in indirect potable reuse when effluent quality allows it, updating pipe networks, or using more permeable membranes. Potable reuse already requires far less energy than seawater desalination and, with a few investments in energy efficiency, entire potable reuse schemes could operate with a specific electrical energy consumption of less than 1 kWh/m3, showing the promise of potable reuse as a low-energy option for augmenting water supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100126
JournalWater Research X
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Advanced water treatment
  • Desalination
  • Energy consumption
  • Energy modeling
  • Potable reuse
  • Reclaimed water
  • Water recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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