Hearings and Business Meetings
October 20, 2005
SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM
Mr. Edmund Archuleta
ENERGY-WATER EFFICIENCY TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND TRANSFER PROGRAM ACT OF 2005
DESALINATION WATER SUPPLY SHORTAGE PREVENTION ACT OF 2005
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
UNITED STATES SENATE
EL PASO WATER UTILITIES
EL PASO, TEXAS
ON BEHALF OF
WATEREUSE RESEARCH FOUNDATION
OCTOBER 20, 2005
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am Ed Archuleta, General Manager of the El Paso Water Utilities and a current member of the Board of Directors of the Water Reuse Foundation (WateReuse). I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today on behalf WateReuse in support of S. 1860, the Energy-Water Efficiency Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program Act of 2005.
The WateReuse Association (WateReuse) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the beneficial and efficient use of water resources through education, sound science, and technology using reclamation, recycling, reuse, and desalination for the benefit of our members, the public, and the environment. Across the United States and the world, communities are facing water supply challenges due to increasing demand, drought, and dependence on a single source of supply. WateReuse addresses these challenges by working with local agencies to implement water reuse and desalination projects that resolve water resource issues and create value for communities. The vision of WateReuse is to be the leading voice for reclamation, recycling, reuse, and desalination in the development and utilization of new sources of high quality water.
WateReuse assists its members in implementing projects that solve these water supply challenges for local communities by:
• sponsoring research that advances the science of water reuse and focuses on the Association's commitment to providing high-quality water, protecting public health, and improving the environment;
• reaching out to members, the public, and local leaders and officials with information that communicates the value and benefits of water reuse; and
• encouraging additional Federal support for water reuse, including funding for research and local projects.
WateReuse members use advanced treatment processes and monitoring to produce water of sufficient quality for the intended purpose from treated municipal and industrial effluent, storm water, agricultural drainage, and sources with high salinity such as seawater and brackish water.
The Association’s membership is growing rapidly as more communities around the nation recognize the need to reuse water and develop alternative supplies. WateReuse now has more than 310 organizational members nationwide, including more than 150 local water and wastewater agencies.
The Association has developed a successful cost-shared research program with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and other research organizations through its WateReuse Foundation. The Foundation is engaged in conducting “leading edge” applied research on important and timely issues, including: 1) evaluating methods for managing salinity, including the disposal of concentrates from membrane treatment systems; 2) working cooperatively with USBR, Sandia National Laboratories, and through the Joint Water Reuse & Desalination Task Force (JWR&DTF) to implement the Desalination and Water Purification Technologies Roadmap developed in 2003 by Sandia and USBR; 3) evaluating ways to advance public acceptance of indirect potable reuse; 4) understanding the occurrence and fate of emerging contaminants, such as endocrine disrupting compounds, in conventional and advanced water recycling systems; and 5) gaining a better understanding of water quality changes that might occur in aquifer storage and recovery (ASR). The WateReuse Foundation currently has a water reuse and desalination research portfolio consisting of more than 50 active projects with a value of more than $10 million.
My utility in El Paso must work with multiple jurisdictions including the United States and Mexico, Texas and New Mexico, and multiple counties, all of which face the challenge of providing water resources to a growing population in an arid region of our country. This experience, and my service as Chairman of the AwwaRF Board of Trustees and as a Board Member of the Water Reuse Foundation has convinced me that it is essential for our nation to identify and develop new technologies to treat new sources of water, including brackish groundwater, and to do so in the most energy efficient manner possible. Senator Domenici, the water community is deeply appreciative of your leadership and vision as exhibited in S.1860 that provides the framework for this crucial enterprise.
S. 1860 and the Importance of a Comprehensive Approach to the Nation’s
The importance of the energy-water nexus has become apparent to water and energy professionals at all levels of government. Water is critical to the production of energy and, conversely, energy is needed for water production. Water and wastewater utilities consume approximately 3% of the nation’s electrical energy to pump, treat, store, and distribute water.
In the future, the nation will depend more and more on the availability of “alternative water supplies,” primarily reclaimed and reused waters and the desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater. In order for these two sources of “new water” to be cost-effective, research is needed to drive down the costs. For example, the new Tampa Bay Water desalination facility will produce water at a currently estimated cost of $2.54/1000 gallons. By contrast, the cost of wholesale water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to its customers is approximately $1.50/1000 gallons. It is this differential of about a dollar per thousand gallons that must be addressed through research.
Similar research is needed for water reuse since many of its applications require membrane applications. For example, Orange County Water District in California currently is designing and constructing its Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) at a cost of $487 million. The technologies utilized are microfiltration, ultraviolet irradiation, and reverse osmosis – technologies that also are used in desalination.
In El Paso, we are in the process of constructing what will be the world’s largest inland desalination facility. One of the technologies featured will be reverse osmosis. One of the greatest challenges facing us will be the disposal of concentrate resulting from the removal of salts and other solids. The types of research envisioned in S. 1860 would likely benefit El Paso in two very tangible ways: 1) reduction of the energy costs of the membrane technologies employed; and 2) development of better and less expensive means of the disposal of concentrate.
WateReuse is strongly supportive of S. 1860 for two basic reasons. First, we believe that research will benefit the entire water community by driving down costs and facilitating the development of new technologies that will allow water utilities to resolve difficult challenges such as concentrate disposal. Second, in the arid West and Southwest, the annual rainfall ranges from about seven inches to 12 inches per year. To accommodate the rapid population growth that is occurring in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and southern California, we need to be able to reclaim and reuse our wastewater and we need to be able to desalinate water in a cost-effective manner. Only research will allow us to do that.
According to the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap, “by 2020, desalination and water purification technologies will contribute significantly to ensuring a safe, sustainable, affordable, and adequate water supply for the United States.” For this to happen, however, a substantial research investment will be needed to find a way to reduce the capital and operating costs. Although desalination has several advantages, it will always have two huge technical challenges: 1) removal of as much as 35,000 milligrams per liter (i.e., 3.5% by volume) of salt and other impurities; and 2) disposal of the brine concentrate that is a by-product of the treatment process. The WateReuse Foundation, working in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation through the JWR&DTF, is heavily engaged in conducting research on innovative, cost-effective methods of concentrate disposal and sponsoring research on membrane technologies and alternative technologies.
The scientific expertise of our national laboratories is something that we all recognize and we are excited over the prospect of having some of these capabilities focused upon developing new, energy efficient water treatment technologies. The purpose of my testimony today to better acquaint the Committee with what we consider the other crucial aspect of this enterprise which is to ensure that these new technologies are applicable to, and implementable by, water agencies. Based upon my experience in running a water agency and also in working with my fellow Board Members at WateReuse and Trustees at AwwaRF, there is often a wide gap between what seems to work in a laboratory and what does indeed work at a water treatment facility and also what will be approved for use by state regulatory agencies.
S.1860 challenges three of our national laboratories to identify groundbreaking new approaches to water treatment. I believe they will be successful in this endeavor. But it is also essential that the research expertise of the water community, as embodied by organizations such as WateReuse, should also be made a part of the research agenda. I am not referring here to technology transfer activities, but rather how S.1860 can create the framework for a true working research partnership between the national labs and the water community. For example, within the past three months, a partnership of El Paso Water Utilities, New Mexico State University, Texas A&M, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the City of Alamogordo (CHIWAWA) have initiated three desal research projects with Sandia Labs. We will be meeting in Albuquerque in early December at the time of the Multi-State Salinity Conference to discuss the parameters of the research program and agree on our research schedule. This partnership could use the support of S.1860 could provide.
CHIWAWA’s (Consortium for High Tech Investigations of Water and Wastewater) work with Sandia is aimed at ensuring that cutting edge next generation technologies developed by the national laboratories also have the benefit of the practical research expertise offered by our research organizations. WateReuse has a proven track record of cooperation in developing and executing research that is of direct practical use by the very utilities that provide their financial support. For example, it has enabled water utilities to comply with an ever expanding regulatory scheme at a cost less than the expected compliance cost without such research. Direct involvement by utilities assures that research is driven by practical need rather than academic interest and increases dramatically the likelihood of adoption and implementation by the water community.
In addition to WateReuse and research management capabilities, the financial support from our more than 1000 subscribing water and wastewater agencies allow us to provide local funding to leverage those of the federal government. The WateReuse Foundation, through contributions from its Subscribers, local water and wastewater agencies, and state agencies, has leveraged funds received from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation by a factor of more than 3:1. We believe that in these times of federal deficits the best way to address the national priorities outlined in S. 1860 is to create a federal-local research partnership which includes investment from all levels of government. WateReuse stands ready with both its research expertise and a portion of its utility generated income to support the goals of your legislation.
WateReuse notes that today’s hearing is also examining innovative ways to finance desalination technologies. Specifically, S. 1016 would, if enacted, provide operating subsidies for facilities to subsidize energy costs. WateReuse has supported strong federal partnerships for water supply facilities and during these times of fiscal austerity, we believe that creative financing mechanisms hold the promise of maintaining a federal partnership. At the same time, the ability to drive down the overall costs of producing alternative water supplies ranging from technology to disposal of byproducts is equally important. Research and technology demonstration holds the promise of delivering on this priority. We hope that as the committee considers tools like operating subsidies that it also target research needs.
Again, WateReuse thanks you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Bingaman, for convening this hearing. We would be pleased to work with you in addressing critical issues related to energy-water efficiency and water technology research. We strongly support the Committee’s leadership efforts to ensure adequate and safe water supplies for the entire country in the 21st century. Also, I want to thank you both for agreeing to be speakers at the Multi-State Salinity Conference in Albuquerque on December 8 and 9.
At this time, Mr. Chairman, I would be pleased to respond to any questions you or the other members may have.