Water reuse can provide western states with a reliable supply of water to help address growing water demands. The practice is also becoming more practical and cost-effective given the scarcity of fresh water supplies, the abundance of wastewater created by growing populations, and increasingly stringent wastewater discharge requirements. However, while many states have expressed an interest in reusing water, a number of legal, institutional, and societal constraints can potentially hinder reuse.
In 2008, the Western Governors’ Association adopted “Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future: Next Steps,” which identified a number of policy objectives related to water management in the West, including a recommendation that the states investigate institutional mechanisms for furthering water reuse. This report is a direct response to this recommendation and builds upon previous Council efforts that have broadly discussed barriers to reuse in the West. In particular, this report describes current reuse programs and efforts in each of the Council’s 18 member states, as well as the institutional issues and other factors that encourage or discourage reuse in those states. This information is intended to help western states learn from each other as they work to carry out the Next Steps’ report’s recommendations.