Water containing wastes – aka wastewater – from residential, commercial and industrial processes requires treatment to remove pollutants prior to discharge. After treatment, the water is suitable for nonconsumption (nonpotable) and even potable use.
In California, water recycling is a critical component of the state’s efforts to use water supplies more efficiently. The state presently recycling about 669,000 acre-feet of water per year and has the potential to reuse an additional two million acre-feet per year.
Non-potable uses include:
landscape and crop irrigation
stream and wetlands enhancement
recreational lakes, fountains and decorative ponds
toilet flushing and gray water applications
as a barrier to protect groundwater supplies from seawater intrusion
wetland habitat creation, restoration, and maintenance
For decades, California oil companies have disposed of wastewater by pumping it into aquifers that were supposed to be protected by federal law. California regulators mistakenly granted permits to do it, through a combination of poor record keeping, miscommunication and permitting errors.
Kern County has lost a key round in its decade-long battle with Southern California waste districts over the land application of treated human and industrial waste. Now the Board of Supervisors will have to decide whether to appeal the loss and continue the fight.
For more than 30 years, wastewater from oil and gas operations has been used to irrigate food crops in California. Regulators will re-examine the safety of that practice during a public hearing Friday.
A company that has trained dogs to recognize the smell of human fecal bacteria has been sniffing out sources of water pollution nationwide, discovering broken sewer pipes, leaking septic tanks and illegal sewage discharges, to the delight of environmental groups and government agencies.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls nutrient pollution the “single greatest challenge to our nation’s water quality.” Rising concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways, the agency reports, are a significant threat to human health, ecosystems, and local economies.
It is now possible to imagine a future in which highly treated wastewater will be plumbed directly into California homes as a new drinking water supply. On September 8, the State Water Resources Control Board released a long-awaited report on the feasibility of so-called “direct potable reuse.”
I [John Holland] drove out past Merced last year to see a dairy farmer testing a new idea. He irrigated 40 acres of feed corn with drip lines, which are much more common in orchards and vineyards than annual crops.
In rural areas with widely dispersed houses, reliance upon a centralized sewer system is not practical compared to individual wastewater treatment methods. These on-site management facilities – or septic systems – are more commonplace given their simpler structure, efficiency and easy maintenance.
Directly detecting harmful pathogens in water can be expensive, unreliable and incredibly complicated. Fortunately, certain organisms are known to consistently coexist with these harmful microbes which are substantially easier to detect and culture: coliform bacteria. These generally non-toxic organisms are frequently used as “indicator species,” or organisms whose presence demonstrates a particular feature of its surrounding environment.
The biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of water determines the impact of decaying matter on species in a specific ecosystem. Sampling for BOD tests how much oxygen is needed by bacteria to break down the organic matter.
The first test of ocean water following a massive California sewage spill came back clean Wednesday, suggesting stinky sludge that drained into the Los Angeles River didn’t flow 20 miles to the coast, officials said.
A damaged sewage line spilled a total of about 2.4 million gallons of untreated waste into the Los Angeles River and has forced the closure of all beaches in Long Beach and Seal Beach, officials said Tuesday.
Organizers of a petition drive to ban the practice of irrigating crops with recycled oil field wastewater will be pitching their cause on Saturday morning to customers at markets in nine cities across the state, including a Ralph’s in Los Angeles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned the disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste water at public sewage plants, formalizing a voluntary practice that removed most fracking waste from Pennsylvania plants starting in 2011. The EPA on Monday finalized a rule that prevents operators from disposing of waste from unconventional oil & gas operations at publicly owned treatment works [POTW's].
Settling a major lawsuit from environmentalists, San Jose city officials on Tuesday agreed to spend more than $100 million over the next decade and beyond to reduce tons of trash that flows into creeks and San Francisco Bay, repair miles of leaking underground sewage pipes and clean stormwater contaminated with harmful bacteria.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District hired Dragados USA to build a biological nutrient removal station, part of a larger $1.5 billion to $2 billion effort to meet stricter state standards on wastewater pollutants discharged into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing in its mandate to protect underground drinking water reserves from oilfield contamination, according to a federal review singling out lax EPA oversight in California, where the state routinely allowed oil companies to dump wastewater into some drinking water aquifers.
By a unanimous vote, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, a water wholesaler for about 353 square miles of San Bernardino County, certified the proposed Sterling Natural Resources Center project, which would capture and treat East Valley Water District’s wastewater and add the output to the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin, which is at a historic low level.
A 2005 spate of quakes in California’s Central Valley almost certainly was triggered by oilfield injection underground, a study published Thursday said in the first such link in California between oil and gas operations and earthquakes.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials were in Carlsbad on Wednesday to announce more than $182 million in federal funding that will be funneled to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements throughout California.
A U.S. Interior Department investigation glossed over the federal government’s negligence in a massive toxic wastewater spill from an inactive gold mine that fouled rivers in three states, Republicans in Congress said as they pushed for a more detailed explanation of the accident.
In an attempt to prevent its oil industry from contaminating groundwater sources that could be used for drinking water, California regulators closed 33 wells last week that were injecting oilfield waste into protected aquifers.
An Associated Press analysis of data from leading oil- and gas-producing states found more than 180 million gallons of wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014 in incidents involving ruptured pipes, overflowing storage tanks and even deliberate dumping.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board ignored its own staff recommendation and voted to let Valley Water Management Co. continue disposing of excess wastewater by spraying it on hillsides for another 21/2 years.
Although treating wastewater generally ranks alongside police and fire safety, schools, and transit as the top priorities of any sensible city hall, new ideas about cleaning up sewage almost never attract headlines or TV airtime. … It has taken a four-year drought in California to change that.
In the fourth year of an unrelenting drought emergency, every use of water in California is being put under the microscope. Watering a lawn, filling a pool, washing a car, growing food — all are familiar practices now viewed with a more critical eye. The same is true of California’s oil industry, the nation’s third largest.
The farm is taking part in a research project using worms to consume nitrogen in manure-tainted water that irrigates its feed crops. The goal, in part, is to reduce the risk of pollution. But the process also has a byproduct – an especially rich fertilizer that can be sold to home gardeners and other users.
Seeking to accelerate San Diego’s efforts toward greater water independence, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will lobby Gov. Jerry Brown today for financial and regulatory help with the city’s $3.5 billion plan to recycle sewage into drinking water.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews and other Silicon Valley leaders on Monday took big gulps of recycled water — filtered, cleaned and disinfected sewage — to show that it is safe and should be a growing part of Silicon Valley’s drinking water future.
The question of how the state’s petroleum companies should dispose of wastewater that comes from the ground mixed with newly pumped crude oil attracted a gathering of anti-fracking protesters in Long Beach on Tuesday.
In hearings at the Capitol last week, lawmakers excoriated Brown’s staff for letting oil drillers inject wastewater into wells in protected aquifers and for allowing a battery recycler in Southern California to operate under a temporary permit for decades while emitting hazardous waste.
The agencies charged with overseeing oil production and protecting California’s ever-dwindling water sources from the industry’s pollution all fell down on the job, one state official told a panel of peeved lawmakers Tuesday.
A hearing by state lawmakers Tuesday on problems in California’s protection of drinking-water aquifers from the state oil and gas industry also is slated to focus attention on the way oil companies in the state use high-pressure steam to force up petroleum.
California officials, responding to concerns about groundwater contamination, are closing 12 wells in the Central Valley used to dispose of chemical-laden water from oil and gas production, regulators announced Tuesday.
Water officials in Kern County discovered that oil producers have been dumping chemical-laden wastewater into hundreds of unlined pits that are operating without proper permits. … The pits — long, shallow troughs gouged out of dirt — hold water that is produced from fracking and other oil drilling operations.
The city of Dixon is suing a taxpayers’ group, trying to block an electoral challenge to a sewage rate increase in a growing rift over how to pay for $23 million or more in state-mandated improvements to the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Fresno is turning its sewer farm into a drought-buster. City Hall has started building the first phase of an advanced treatment plant that will deliver millions of gallons of water every day for non-drinking uses, such as irrigation of green space.
The recent revelation that oil companies were allowed to inject wastewater into federally protected aquifers has spurred alarm from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and put state regulators on the defensive.
The show floor at WWETT 2015 will be filled with the latest and greatest products the water and wastewater industry has to offer. But it’s also important to remember where the industry came from. A historical display, sponsored by NASSCO, and coming to the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment and Transport (WWETT) Show in February, will do just that.
By next year work should be underway on National Park Service property at Stinson Beach to gird against rising seas that are predicted to swallow part of Marin’s coast sometime this century. The threat of sea-level rise is the primary reason why the park service is planning a $2.3 million revamp of a wastewater treatment system …
DC Water dedicated its second Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) on December 12, 2014. It has been named “Nannie”, in honor of Nannie Helen Burroughs, a prominent 20th century African-American educator, civil rights activist, and Washington resident. This TBM will join another – called “Lady Bird” – as part of Washington’s strategy to reduce combined sewage overflows into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers when it rains.
A broad coalition of 27 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund has pledged to support the Urban Waters Federal Partnership as it works to restore waterways and revitalize communities across the country. … Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets, and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities.
A proposal to deliver wastewater from a Toro-area community services district to the regional treatment plant for recycling could be a key part of any Monterey County Board of Supervisors approval of the Ferrini Ranch development.
As climate change exacerbates the most severe weather and speeds sea-level rise, deficiencies in wastewater infrastructure will become harder to ignore—and increasingly costly to clean up after failures.
What comes to mind when you think of purple? Likely you conjure images of grapes, flowers, or your favorite socks. How about a purple pipe? Most states require pipes to be colored purple if they carry reclaimed water. … Reclaimed, or recycled, water is highly treated wastewater that’s used again for a variety of purposes such as irrigation, industrial processes, and cooling towers.
In a new report, the Center for American Progress takes a look at the danger climate change poses to wastewater systems from stronger storms, higher seas, and heavier downpours and offers realistic and cost-effective recommendations to shore up this aging infrastructure before the next massive storm. Chief among those recommendations are that all new investments in wastewater infrastructure take into account the projected impacts of climate change and that affordable, green infrastructure solutions be considered.
Step by step, sewage flows through the city’s Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in the San Fernando Valley. Ultimately, the cleaned effluent flows into lakes and rivers. … Mayor Eric Garcetti, who prefers the term “showers to flowers” instead of “toilet to tap,” also lobbied for groundwater cleanup funds.
Because of restrictions on burning, California hospital representatives say their only option appears to be trucking the waste over public highways and incinerating it in another state — a prospect that makes some environmental advocates uneasy. … Dr. David Perrott, chief medical officer for the California Hospital Assn., said there was also confusion about whether infected human waste could be flushed down the toilet.
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick.
A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.
In the West, it is not a matter of if a drought will occur, but when. In an effort to develop a drought-proof water supply, many communities are turning to water recycling. Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for irrigating golf courses, other urban landscapes, some crops, wetlands enhancement, industrial processes and even groundwater recharge. But many people do not understand how water is treated, recycled and reused, causing some to oppose new projects.
This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and DVD.
This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability. The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.
As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the history of wastewater treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and disposed of today. The guide also offers case studies of different treatment plants and their treatment processes.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex and competing issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, and water distribution.