A “One Water” Solution to Brine Management

Goodyear, AZ View Description

The City of Goodyear draws 100% of its municipal drinking water from groundwater aquifers that are naturally high in salinity. To provide their customers with clean, safe drinking water, Goodyear owns and operates a reverse osmosis (RO) treatment system that is the largest in the state. In addition to clean drinking water, the treatment facility produces 1-million gallons per day of salty wastewater, or brine concentrate, that is currently sent to Goodyear’s reclamation facility for disposal. However, this practice hampers operations at the reclamation facility and takes up space that could otherwise be used for new development. Of the many alternative options for brine disposal, Goodyear, in a collaborative partnership with the US Bureau of Reclamation, decided on a constructed wetland to treat the brine concentrate. A pilot project was constructed and successfully demonstrated that plants that normally thrive in salty conditions were able to absorb salts and metals. When the full-scale project is complete, brine concentrate will be mixed with groundwater in the constructed wetland and the final effluent will be discharged to the Gila River. This “One Water” solution provides additional benefits to Goodyear, its residents, and the Maricopa County Estrella Mountain regional park, where the full-scale wetland will ultimately be constructed.

These benefits include:
1) enhanced recreation and animal habitats in the regional county park
2) riparian restoration to the dry Gila River, making this a point of destination for recreation, hiking, biking, and bird watching
3) mitigate a major flood zone by preventing the invasive dry loving tamarisk (Salt Cedar) from proliferating within the riparian area and keep the river channelized for efficient conveyance of flood water.

What started out as a brine disposal problem for Goodyear has transformed into several collaborative solutions that will benefit many stakeholders.

WaterNow Alliance Member Spotlight: Councilmember Wally Campbell is a leader in innovation, regional solutions, partnerships, and collaboration.  Councilmember Campbell was instrumental in this project by her leadership in encouraging staff to look for science, academic, and granting opportunities.  This resulted in a long and successful partnership with the US Bureau of Reclamation.  Councilmember Campbell encouraged staff to not only look at this project as a brine disposal research project but to explore the possibilities of educational, recreational, and environmental opportunities for the public, which also fit well into the City’s strategic goals.  With her leadership, encouragement, and motivation, Goodyear was able to find a way to incorporate this project into a multifaceted project that not only solves the City’s brine disposal issue but benefits education, recreation, environmental enhancements, river restoration, and flood mitigation. Councilmember Campbell continues to provide support and leadership for this project moving forward.