The Future of Water Management

Austin Water is piloting an innovative and integrated on-site blackwater reuse facility at the City of Austin’s new Permitting and Development Center to promote and advance decentralized reuse goals contained in Austin Water’s 100-year Water Forward Plan.

aerial image of the Permitting and Development Center

The Project

The demonstration project includes a fit-for-purpose rainwater and air-conditioning condensate reuse system that supplements the building’s closed-loop blackwater recycling system. The project is anticipated to save the City of Austin almost one and half million gallons of drinking water annually, and to reduce the site’s potable water use by 75%.

Austin Water has named the reuse systems in the pilot project to help customers understand how they work:

  • OSCAR (On-Site Collection and Reuse) - OSCAR is an underground 40,000-gallon collection and reuse system that captures rainwater from the building’s roofs and condensate water from the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The collected water is relatively clean, and only requires basic filtration to remove particles and debris before it is used in the outdoor landscape. Instead of using highly-treated drinking water, OSCAR uses alternative water sources collected on-site for non-drinking water applications. This approach to water management, called “fit-for-purpose,’ saves energy because rainwater and condensate need very little treatment to be used for irrigation.
  • CLARA (Closed-Loop Advanced Reclaimed Assembly) - CLARA can treat up to 5,000 gallons of wastewater per day from the building’s sinks, toilets and drinking fountains. Instead of sending that wastewater to be treated at a far-away wastewater treatment plant, CLARA uses an innovative on-site system to turn “blackwater” into water clean enough to reuse in the building’s toilets and urinals. CLARA is a hybrid membrane system designed with six stages of biological, physical and chemical treatment. Once the treatment process is complete, the murky “blackwater” comes out remarkably clean and can be reused over and over again to flush toilets and urinals in a closed-loop recycling system.
Project Benefits

This first-of-its-kind project in Texas will provide performance data to inform future development projects and encourage efforts to capture and reuse on-site water sources for non-drinking water needs. More effective and efficient on-site water management will advance the city’s conservation and reuse goals and help to extend our core water supplies from the Colorado River and Highland Lakes.

Project Status

Both OSCAR and CLARA have been operational since May of 2022. The public is welcome to the Permitting and Development Center to learn more about the reuse systems through either a self-guided tour using the signs located in the courtyard of the building, or through a scheduled guided tour. Contact to schedule a guided tour.

More Information

Visit the Technical Center section to learn more about the regulatory guidelines and updates about on-site water reuse systems.

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