call for a closer coordination of federal efforts. Thus, the intergovernmental Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) was formed under the executive branch’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS).4 SWAQ is chartered to “facilitate communication and coordination among federal agencies and representatives from nonfederal sectors on issues of science, technology, and policy related to water availability and quality.” Additionally, SWAQ is charged to periodically assess “priorities for research and development of systems related to enhancement of water supplies,” advise the CENRS on additional research needs, and develop coordinated plans to provide the needed research (SWAQ charter provided in NRC, 2004). Thus far, SWAQ has not been used to coordinate federal efforts on reuse research, but federal leadership will be needed if the issues and obstacles to water reuse are to be addressed.
The committee identified 14 water reuse research priorities (see Box 11-1) that are not currently being addressed in a major way. These research priorities in the areas of human health, social, and environmental issues, and treatment efficiency and quality assurance hold significant potential to advance the safe, reliable, and cost-effective reuse of municipal wastewater where traditional sources are inadequate.
Improved coordination among federal and nonfederal entities is important for addressing the long-term research needs related to water reuse. Addressing the research needs identified in Box 11-1 will require the involvement of several federal agencies as well as support from nongovernmental research organizations. Several mechanisms could be used to enhance the coordination of reuse research, minimize duplication, and leverage limited resources. A past example that could be built upon is the Joint Water Reuse and Desalination Task Force. Additionally, the SWAQ, which is chartered to facilitate coordination among federal agencies, could be used to enhance coordination of federal water-reuse-related research.
If the federal government decides to develop national regulations for water reuse, a more robust research effort will be needed to support that initiative with enhanced coordination among federal and nonfederal entities. Such an effort would benefit from the leadership of a single federal agency, which could serve as the primary entity for coordination of research and for information dissemination.
4 The Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability reports to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s National Science and Technology Council.