Principles for scaling of distributed direct potable water reuse systems: A modeling study

Tianjiao Guo, James D. Englehardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Scaling of direct potable water reuse (DPR) systems involves tradeoffs of treatment facility economy-of-scale, versus cost and energy of conveyance including energy for upgradient distribution of treated water, and retention of wastewater thermal energy. In this study, a generalized model of the cost of DPR as a function of treatment plant scale, assuming futuristic, optimized conveyance networks, was constructed for purposes of developing design principles. Fractal landscapes representing flat, hilly, and mountainous topographies were simulated, with urban, suburban, and rural housing distributions placed by modified preferential growth algorithm. Treatment plants were allocated by agglomerative hierarchical clustering, networked to buildings by minimum spanning tree. Simulations assume advanced oxidation-based DPR system design, with 20-year design life and capability to mineralize chemical oxygen demand below normal detection limits, allowing implementation in regions where disposal of concentrate containing hormones and antiscalants is not practical. Results indicate that total DPR capital and O&M costs in rural areas, where systems that return nutrients to the land may be more appropriate, are high. However, costs in urban/suburban areas are competitive with current water/wastewater service costs at scales of ca. one plant per 10,000 residences. This size is relatively small, and costs do not increase significantly until plant service areas fall below 100 to 1000 homes. Based on these results, distributed DPR systems are recommended for consideration for urban/suburban water and wastewater system capacity expansion projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-163
Number of pages18
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - May 5 2015


  • Direct potable water reuse
  • Hierarchical clustering
  • Minimum spanning tree
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Principles for scaling of distributed direct potable water reuse systems: A modeling study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this