Recharge and Recovery

Recharge and recovery is the storage of water by recharging aquifers up-gradient of water production wells for later recovery and distribution. De facto reuse through recharge and recovery has occurred since Flagstaff first began managing sewage in the early 1900's. 

Advanced treatment of the recharge water is an option if the Flagstaff community funds the technology to further clean the Class A+ water. Advanced treatment has not been recommended by steering groups associated with Arizona's adoption of regulations for Direct Potable Reuse since the environmental barrier is so effective at further cleaning the Class A+ water. Additionally, the City's Panel on Compounds of Emerging Concern will provide final recommendations on what additional treatment is recommended, if any, after reviewing Flagstaff's water quality tests.

Recharge and recovery is currently administered through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Aquifer Recharge CycleSource: Modified from AWWA Potable Reuse 101

Flagstaff's Urban Water Cycle

  1. Reclaimed and potable water is Six Steps of Recharge and Recovery of the Coconino Aquiferused outdoors. 
  2. Reclaimed water is discharged to the Rio de Flag.
  3. Water travels through the vadose zone where it is naturally filtered.
  4. Water reaches the aquifer and co-mingles with existing water in storage.
  5. Water from the aquifer is pumped from production wells located down-gradient of the flow direction in the aquifer.
  6. An estimated 4% of all water that falls on the ground recharges the aquifer, including snow, rain, stormwater, and any reclaimed and potable water used outdoors.

Relative Costs for Recharge and Recovery

Doller SignBlank SpacerIncrementally discontinue flows* from the Wildcat Hill Wastewater Reclamation Plant  (WRP) and increase flows from the Rio de Flag WRP into the Rio de Flag Wash

Doller SignDoller SignBlank SpacerDiscontinue flows from the Wildcat Hill WRP and recharge groundwater through the injection wells near the Rio de Flag WRP

Doller SignDoller SignDoller SignBlank SpacerFund advanced treatment of Class A+ reclaimed water and increase flows from the Rio def Flag WRP into the Rio de Flag wash

Doller SignDoller SignDoller SignDoller SignBlank SpacerFund advanced treatment of Class A+ reclaimed water and recharge groundwater through injection wells near the Rio de Flag WRP

* Minimum environmental flows would be maintained at Picture Canyon, I-40 wetlands, and Frances Short Pond

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