Modeling the economic feasibility of large-scale net-zero water management: A case study

Tianjiao Guo, James Douglas Englehardt, Howard J. Fallon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


While municipal direct potable water reuse (DPR) has been recommended for consideration by the U.S. National Research Council, it is unclear how to size new closed-loop DPR plants, termed "net-zero water (NZW) plants", to minimize cost and energy demand assuming upgradient water distribution. Based on a recent model optimizing the economics of plant scale for generalized conditions, the authors evaluated the feasibility and optimal scale of NZW plants for treatment capacity expansion in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Local data on population distribution and topography were input to compare projected costs for NZW vs the current plan. Total cost was minimized at a scale of 49 NZW plants for the service population of 671,823. Total unit cost for NZW systems, which mineralize chemical oxygen demand to below normal detection limits, is projected at ∼$10.83 / 1000 gal, approximately 13% above the current plan and less than rates reported for several significant U.S. cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-823
Number of pages13
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Case study
  • Direct potable water reuse
  • Distributed
  • Net-zero water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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