Brownwood City Council members got their first look Tuesday at the technology - and some of the potential costs - if the city builds a facility to treat effluent wastewater from the city's wastewater treatment plant.

City Manager Bobby Rountree and council members have been discussing the project as a water conservation measure given the drought and reduced levels of Lake Brownwood. The wastewater treatment plant releases 2 million to 2.5 million gallons of effluent water per day, into the South Willis Creek, depending on weather conditions. The City of Brownwood uses 2.5 million to 3 million gallons of potable water per day during the winter, so the reuse of the water would go a long way in helping provide potable water, Rountree said earlier.

The city will need the blessing of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which wants the city to conduct a pilot study. That would involve building a "mini-plant" and operating it for 10 months so the results could be studied, officials said. The city wants the TCEQ to let the city avoid the pilot study.

Engineer Doug Hearn, of Georgetown-based Hearn Engineering, described a facility that would be built at the location of a pumping station and ground storage water tank on Roanoke, behind East Elementary School.

The effluent water from the wastewater treatment plant would be transported to the facility, where it would be be subject to a variety of treatments - specifically, ultrafiltration (involving filters), ultraviolet disinfection (involving ultraviolet light), reverse osmosis (involving more filters, which treats water down to the molecular level), and possibly, a process called carbon absorption. That process, which may not prove necessary, involves drawing impurities out of the water, city utilities director David Harris said.

The water, which is already very clean after being treated at the wastewater treatment plant, would be very safe to mix with drinking water, Hearn said. He said the water would be placed in the ground storage tank become part of the water distribution system.

The technology isn't new, but the process is, Hearn and city officials said. No other system in which effluent wastewater is reclaimed involves putting the water into the water system, Harris said earlier. In other systems, the water is placed into a pond or lake and pumped back out, Harris said.