| AWWA thought leader champions water reuse for sustainability
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AWWA thought leader champions water reuse for sustainability

New practices and technologies for water reuse are highlighted by Tracy Mehan (pictured below), the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) executive director of government affairs, in a recently released collection of essays about solutions for a sustainable future.

A Better Planet: Forty Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future, published by Yale University Press, includes 40 essays from environmental thought leaders on such subjects as Tracy Mehan, AWWA executive director of government affairs.ecology, environmental justice, public health and climate change.

“A set of new practices and technologies, collectively referred to as water reuse, provides new opportunities to discover ‘found water’ in a community’s own wastewater stream and convert it into a valuable resource,” Mehan stated in his essay, Found Water.

“These new approaches deconstruct the very idea of ‘wastewater,’” he added. “No longer is there such a thing. There is only water that is wasted.”

Mehan credits AWWA staff Steve Via, Barb Martin and Alex Gerling for their assistance with his essay, which outlines the evolution of water reuse in the United States. The views expressed in the essay belong solely to Mehan.

Mentioned in Mehan's piece is the 2015 publication, Framework for Direct Potable Reuse: A Path Forward. That report and other resources are listed on AWWA’s online Reuse resource page.

A Better Planet“Water reuse is local, sustainable, and cost-effective because wastewater is available even during drought conditions and causes less damage to the environment than other water-supply solutions like dams, reservoirs, and canals,” stated Mehan, who previously served as an assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The United States is already the largest reuse market by volume with further future growth projected,” he said. “The development of water reuse is a sustained, organic process of measured growth and evolution and should be allowed to proceed at its own pace and continue to prove its effectiveness over time.”

A Better Planet was edited by Daniel Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale Law School. Having held several leadership roles at the EPA, Esty was familiar with Mehan’s thought leadership in the water sector.

“We know that water is a hugely important issue and we were pleased by Tracy’s freshness of perspective and his ability to introduce a ‘beyond political’ conversation about how we can achieve a better environmental future in the years ahead,” Esty said.

“We wanted this book to demonstrate a range of collaborative pathways and ideas that might achieve bipartisan support,” Esty added. “A Better Planet is getting a lot of initial attention because of its focus on the substantive issues that go beyond political battles to find a common ground.”