Overwhelmed by severe drought, the Oklahoma legislature passed a law this year to help communities make the most of their water resources by treating and reusing wastewater.
As drought spread over 80 percent of the state, Oklahoma cities expressed interest in reusing water but lacked clear guidance from the Department of Environmental Quality on how to do it. A bill signed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin at the end of May directs the state agency to design a process for creating water reuse projects and to establish rules and permitting requirements.
“Oklahoma is challenged, not just today but looking down the road,” said state Sen. Rob Standridge, who sponsored the bill along with fellow Republican Rep. Scott Martin. “Water is turning into an extremely important natural resource. It’s hard to envision a plan that doesn’t require some type of reuse.”
Oklahoma is one of many states reusing wastewater to address water shortages. The practice isn’t new _ California began reusing wastewater in the early 1900s _ but it is increasingly popular as huge swaths of the U.S. struggle with drought.