Water reuse (the process of recycling wastewater) is taking off in states facing drought and scarcity. In fact, municipal wastewater reuse capacity is expected to increase 58% from 2016 through 2026, according to new market forecasts from Bluefield Research, Boston. The study, "US Municipal Wastewater Reuse Update: Project Pipeline and Market Forecast, 2016-2026," is based on a database of 607 currently planned reuse projects. CAPEX investment in reuse is expected to total $11 billion between 2016 and 2026.

"Water scarcity continues to be the primary driver for water reuse implementation—the scaling roster of projects demonstrated in our semi-annual review highlights wider adoption by utilities going forward," says Erin Bonney Casey, senior analyst.

California and Florida account for 36% and 26% of currently planned reuse capacity additions, respectively. Florida has the most installed reuse capacity to date, with 6.3 million m3/d due to its long commitment to reuse to improve water quality and guarantee adequate supply for a growing population.

"California is proving to be the greatest opportunity for reuse market growth, backed by $4.3 billion of planned activity, an improving regulatory environment and its well-documented drought," says Bonney Casey. "So far, projects have taken years to develop, but given the recent supply concerns, we anticipate a more streamlined process going forward, particularly for potable applications."

Four states—Florida, California, Colorado and Texas—make up 581, or 95%, of planned reuse projects in the United States. Colorado released its first state-wide water plan in November 2015, outlining 51 planned reuse projects. Potable reuse projects—direct and indirect—are also gaining momentum with 2.6 million m3/d in capacity additions, accounting for $2.9 billion investment in advanced treatment technology solutions.

"We expect the reuse pipeline to continue to grow as states continue to face drought conditions.  Longer-term water planning cycles and regulation standardizing projects demonstrate greater support for the expansion of reuse systems, and contribute to the growing pipeline of planned projects," adds Bonney Casey.