A preliminary assessment of incidental potable water reuse (IPR) in the Llobregat River basin has been conducted by estimating the dilution factor of treated effluent discharges upstream of six river flow measurement sections. IPR in the Llobregat River basin is an everyday occurrence, because of the systematic discharge of treated effluents upstream of river sections used as drinking water sources. Average river flows at the Sant Joan Despí measurement section increased from 400,000 m3/d (2007) to 864,000 m3/d (2008) and to 931,000 m3/d (2013), while treated effluent discharges upstream of that section ranged from 109,000 m3/d to 114,000 m3/d in those years. The highest degree of IPR occurs downstream of the Abrera and Sant Joan Despí flow measurement sections, from where about half of the drinking water supplied to the Barcelona Metropolitan Area is abstracted. Based on average annual flows, the likelihood that drinking water produced from that river stretch contained treated effluent varied from 25% (2007) to 13% (2008) and to 12% (2013). Water agencies and drinking water production utilities have strived for decades to ensure that drinking water production satisfies applicable quality requirements and provides the required public health protection.
- incidental water reuse
- indirect potable water reuse
- living downstream
- unplanned reuse
- First received 26 October 2015.
- Accepted in revised form 6 May 2016.
- © 2017 The Authors
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