APPLICATION OF RECLAIMED WASTEWATER FOR AGRICULTURAL IRRIGATION: DEVELOPING A DECISION SUPPORT TOOL USING SPATIAL MULTI-CRITERIA DECISION ANALYSIS
MetadataShow full item record
Intensified climate variability, depleting groundwater, and escalating water demand create severe stress on high-quality freshwater sources used for agricultural irrigation. These challenges necessitate the exploration of alternative water sources such as reclaimed water to reduce the pressure on freshwater sources. To do so, it is key to investigate the spatial pattern of areas that are more suitable for water reuse to determine the potential of reclaimed wastewater use for irrigation. This study provides a systematic decision-analysis framework for the decision-makers using an integrated process-based hydrologic model for sustainable agricultural water management. The outcomes of this study provide evidence of the feasibility of reclaimed wastewater use in the agricultural sector. The two objectives of this study were to: 1) identify the locations that are most suitable for the reclaimed wastewater use in agriculture (hotspots); and 2) develop the watershed-scale models to assess the agricultural water budget and crop production using different water conservation scenarios including reclaimed wastewater use. To achieve the first objective, a decision-making framework was developed by using the Geographic Information System and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (GIS-MCDA). This framework was then tested in the Southwest (California), and the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland) regions. Based on WWTPs’ proximity, sufficient water availability, and appropriate treatment process of the treated wastewater, the “Most Suitable” and “Moderately Suitable” agricultural areas were found to be approximately 145.5 km2, and 276 km2 for California and, 26.4 km2 and 798.8 km2 for Maryland, respectively. These results were then used to develop the hydrologic models to examine water conservation and water reuse scenarios under real-world conditions, using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). In California, the combination of auto irrigation (AI) and regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) resulted in higher WP for both almond and grape (> 0.50 kg/m3). Results also suggested that the wastewater reuse in almond and grape irrigation could reduce groundwater consumption more than 74% and 90% under RDI and AI scenarios, respectively. For Maryland, model simulations suggested that the green water productivity (only rainfall) can be improved up to 0.713 kg/m3 for corn and 0.37 kg/m3 for soybean under the reclaimed wastewater use scenario.