Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-13-2017


In the face of increasing population, development pressures, and climate change, many regions around the world face freshwater shortages. Planned potable water reuse can improve sustainability and reliability of water supplies by providing drinking water from wastewater. Most potable reuse research has focused on large coastal communities with relatively high mean household incomes. However, the US Department of Interior predicts that “hot spots” of conflict over water in the arid West are “highly likely” in numerous small-to-medium-sized inland communities with low-to-moderate household income levels. Potable reuse options may be different for larger, wealthier coastal communities as compared to small-to-medium-sized inland ones, not only in terms of the technologies used, but also in the communities’ knowledge of, attitudes toward, and ability to pay for the required technologies. Significant knowledge gaps exist regarding these issues for the arid, inland context, making it difficult for inland water managers to understand the feasibility of potable reuse for their communities. This research aims to inform decision-making about planned potable reuse in small-to-medium-sized, arid inland communities by estimating the total present worth of several indirect and direct potable reuse treatment scenarios that are appropriate for the inland context. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority in Albuquerque, NM, was used as a case study. Each of the indirect and direct potable reuse scenarios was examined with two different options for advanced treatment: reverse osmosis and ozone/biological activated carbon, both of which were preceded by microfiltration and followed by ultraviolet disinfection. The results showed that the present worth for indirect potable reuse was substantially higher than that for direct potable reuse primarily because of additional pumping and piping requirements. The type of advanced treatment included in an indirect or direct potable reuse scenario had a significant impact the scenario’s overall present worth, with options including reverse osmosis being more expensive than those including ozone/biological activated carbon. Costs aside, any scenario must also be acceptable to regulators and the public and approvable from a water rights perspective.

Project Sponsors

New Mexico Water Resources Research Foundation



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Second Degree

Water Resources

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Scruggs, Caroline

Second Committee Member

Fleming, William

Third Committee Member

Russell, Mark

Fourth Committee Member

Thomson, Bruce


Water scarcity, indirect potable reuse, direct potable reuse, treatment costs, present worth, resource management, sustainable community planning