A realistic application of the One Water approach

Posted in: Infrastructure, Water


Backwash ponds at a rural California water district being considered for recycling project due to drought conditions – a One Water approach
Backwash ponds at a rural California water district being considered for recycling project due to drought conditions – a One Water approach

“One Water” is a holistic approach to integrate planning for water supply, wastewater and stormwater systems. It is a collaborative effort that considers multiple water projects all with the same goals of protecting human health, improving water quality and managing stormwater as a resource. A “One Water” approach considers the connections between various water systems, and by thinking of them as a whole creates an outcome that is a more sustainable and resilient system. “One Water” moves from the start of the watershed through to the various points of use.

Water treatment backwash recycling is one method where this collaboration provides improved management of overall water demand. Water treatment processes generate inherent waste streams. Volumes can be anywhere from 10-40 percent depending on water quality and treatment technologies used. Introducing recycling of backwash water into an optimized plant design will aid in reducing the overall water demand. Optimized water treatment plant design brings local and possible global benefits such as:

  • Reduces the demand for potable water, which preserves our precious surface and groundwater reserves.
  • Improves the operational flexibility by reducing demand on the facility.
  • Minimizes the quantity of backwash water and associated pollutants discharged to the river, receiving water or wastewater plant.
  • Demonstrates efficient and responsible water use to the community.

Rethinking our traditional methods of water treatment can turn challenges into opportunities. It gives you opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle while creating connections between the three traditionally siloed water, wastewater and stormwater systems.

Several Mead & Hunt professionals and I will be attending conferences this month where we will be talking about water related issues and other innovative solutions to further advance the One Water approach. Catch up with me and my colleagues at…


Shannon Saramaa

About the Author

Shannon Saramaa, P.E., is a member of Mead & Hunt’s water and wastewater team. A true entrepreneur with innovation in her heart, Shannon founded a municipal water and wastewater consulting firm that continues to serve numerous Colorado utility districts, cities, institutions and other water and wastewater providers. Shannon now goes forward in the same spirit as a member of Mead & Hunt.

Read more posts by Shannon Saramaa

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