Reclaimed Water

Reclaimed Water (RCW) is the clean water produced from the advanced treatment of wastewater at our Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Following the record drought of 2001-2002, OWASA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill partnered to enable use of RCW instead of drinking water to meet certain non-drinking water demands (chilled water, irrigation of landscaping and athletic fields, toilet flushing in new facilities) on campus and other locations which connect to the RCW system.

The  RCW system:

  • Enables OWASA to meet non-drinking water needs in a cost-effective manner while freeing up the community's drinking water supply and treatment capacities to meet essential needs;
  • Lowers the risk of a water shortage in future droughts; and
  • Defers or eliminates the need for costly water supply and/or treatment facilities.

The RCW system began operation in April 2009. The University and UNC Hospitals now use RCW at all of their central campus chiller plant cooling towers instead of drinking water.

The University paid the entire cost to build the RCW system, excluding  a $1.6 million grant from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund to pay for engineering design and permitting costs, and a $625,500 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to help pay for construction of the system. The  value of the system is about $14 million. The RCW capital improvements were dedicated to OWASA for operation and maintenance.

Checking pumping System

The RCW water system includes a storage tank and pumping station at our Mason Farm WWTP. The RCW system also allows OWASA to further disinfect the already highly treated wastewater. RCW is pumped to the University through about five miles of RCW pipes.

The RCW system can meet  peak demand of 3 million gallons per day (MGD). The system was constructed to allow cost-effective expansion to about 5 MGD. RCW demand from July 2014 through June 2015 averaged 0.66 MGD. We anticipate that the RCW system can  meet projected RCW demand in the foreseeable future.

The cost to operate and maintain the system is paid solely by RCW customers (the University, which uses most of the RCW; and St. Thomas More School, which began using RCW to irrigate an athletic field in the spring of 2011).

Bulk Fill Program

Reclaimed water is available at no charge at the Mason Farm WWTP for people/companies who bring tanks which hold at least 50 gallons and who take training in use of reclaimed water for irrigation and other allowable non-drinking purposes. For more information, please contact us at 919-537-4350 or info@owasa.org.

Map of RCW System