Explore many of the different aspects of water and its role in our lives.
Additional events are listed on the Explore More calendar page here.
- Reusing Water in Space
October 19, 2019
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
- On Earth, we rely on the water cycle to renew our water supply. In simplest terms, precipitation falls, the runoff flows to the sea or replenishes groundwater, water evaporates, and the cycle begins again. However, as climate change, localized drought and other factors reduce our confidence that we will always have potable water where and when we want it, water reuse is becoming part of the water cycle. Water reuse is the reclamation of wastewater by advanced treatment methods that permit its use for a variety of purposes. The Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) provides potable water to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community and process our waster water at the Mason Farm Water Reclamation facility. For the last 15 years OWASA has provided reclaimed water for use on the UNC campus for a cooling water for their air conditioning and for irrigation purposes.
While it began as a watering source for basic crops or landscape irrigation, and for such industrial uses as cooling water, very recently we have begun to apply very sophisticated wastewater treatment processes on a wide scale. Through a process called direct potable reuse (DPR) we can use the recycled water as a water supply resource.
Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) can teach us a lot about water reuse. On ISS, astronauts like my astronaut friend Ricky Arnold eat and drink many of the same foods we do, but their urine, humidity condensate and other system waters is then recycled in a specially built recycling unit. This treatment unit has many similarities to the “earthly” units that produce DPR. We will learn about the similarities that OWASA and ISS share in the story of water reuse in this talk.
Water reuse has obviously played an important part in making space exploration possible. Here in the United States it will play an increasingly key role in the water portfolio adopted by utilities and the agricultural community in the decades ahead. Educating the public about the importance of reclaimed waters will be a significant challenge.
BIO: Dr. Alan Rimer has had a varied career in environmental engineering. In the course of over 50 years of professional experience, he has been involved with the planning and design for a variety of water reuse, water resources, wastewater treatment, and other projects. This work has been conducted for local, state and federal governments, as well as a wide variety of industries. He has been served as a Chapel Hill Town Council member, member and Chair of the OWASA Board of Directors, member and Chair of the Orange County Board of Health, and member and Chair of the Chapel Hill Landfill Owners Group, and the Chapel Hill Planning, Information Technologies and Historic District Commissions.
Meeting Room A