Bahman sheikh water reuse consulting

Bahman Sheikh Water Reuse Consulting

Client: Denver water


The primary concern and duty of water professionals engaged in water recycling is the protection of public health.  First, by provision of water, a resource essential to maintaining life itself, and secondly by ensuring that the water’s past history as sewage does not carry over in any way that would compromise the public’s health and safety.  To this end, studies of food safety under recycled water irrigation regimes are relevant.  The Monterey Wastewater Reclamation Study for Agriculture (MWRSA) (Sheikh et al., 1998), a research pilot project conducted in California, is the most comprehensive study to provide solid, long-term data in this field.

The Extent and Relevance of Microconstituents in Recycled Water

Microconstituents (also called constituents of emerging concern, CECs) are defined as chemicals of various origins remaining in water (including recycled water) at extremely low concentrations.  While these chemicals have been present for many decades, their presence at parts per million or lower was not detectable until very recently.  Advances in laboratory analytical methods have enabled detection of microconstituents and raised concern over their potential impact on public health.  Fortunately, the possibility of microconstituents being absorbed into plant tissues is extremely low:  The soil environment is capable of decomposing these compounds rapidly, and the root systems of plants include an osmotic barrier that excludes uptake of the larger organic molecules that make up the majority (entirety in many cases) of CECs.  Several recent research studies have borne out this phenomenon, as summarized in a recent publication on risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in nonpotable recycled water (Kennedy et al., 2012—Click on link below).

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All Water Is Recycled