Municipal water reuse can contribute to a circular water economy in different contexts and with various treatment trains. This study synthesized information regarding the current technological and regulatory statuses of municipal reuse. It provides process-level information on cost and energy metrics for three potable reuse and one nonpotable reuse case studies using the new Water Techno-economic Assessment Pipe-Parity Platform (WaterTAP3). WaterTAP3 enabled comparisons of cost and energy metrics for different treatment trains and for different alternative water sources consistently with a common platform. A carbon-based treatment train has both a lower calculated levelized cost of water (LCOW) ($0.40/m3) and electricity intensity (0.30 kWh/m3) than a reverse osmosis (RO)-based treatment train ($0.54/m3 and 0.84 kWh/m3). In comparing LCOW and energy intensity for water production from municipal reuse, brackish water, and seawater based on the largest facilities of each type in the United States, municipal reuse had a lower LCOW and electricity than seawater but higher values than for production from brackish water. For a small (2.0 million gallon per day) inland RO-based municipal reuse facility, WaterTAP3 evaluated different deep well injection and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) scenarios for management of RO concentrate. Adding ZLD to a facility that currently allows surface discharge of concentrate would approximately double the LCOW. For all four case studies, LCOW is most sensitive to changes in weighted average cost of capital, on-stream capacity, and plant life. Baseline assessments, pipe parity metrics, and scenario analyses can inform greater observability and understanding of reuse adoption and the potential for cost-effective and energy-efficient reuse.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)489-507
Number of pages19
JournalACS ES and T Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-80383


  • levelized cost of water
  • NAWI baseline
  • technoeconomic analysis
  • water reuse
  • zero liquid discharge


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