Topic: Wastewater

Overview

Wastewater

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
  • industrial processes
  • 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
  • groundwater recharge
Aquafornia news Associated Press

First research links California quakes to oil operations

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.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Agencies find new water source from the sewer

In the wake of drought and environmental concerns, more water agencies in California and across the West are finding a new water source for human consumption in an unexpected place: the sewer.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: EPA announces $182 million for California water projects

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.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Soda Springs first California ski resort to make snow with recycled wastewater

Like all ski areas in the Tahoe-Truckee region, Soda Springs Mountain Resort’s efforts to stretch out its operations during California’s four-year drought has been an uphill climb.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Congressional committee: Mine probe glossed over negligence

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.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: California closes 33 injection wells used to dump oilfield waste into aquifers

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. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Questions and answers about damaging oilfield wastewater

An Associated Press analysis of 11 states found more than 180 million gallons of wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Drilling boom brings rising number of harmful waste spills

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Central Valley board allows wastewater disposal to continue despite contamination

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.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Oakland’s water treatment plant generates its own energy and then some

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.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Pleasanton limits free reclaimed water amid surging popularity

Reclaimed water from California’s first sewer plant to give it away free has become so popular in the drought that operators are limiting who can use it. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto-area dairy farmer learns from San Francisco guitar-maker

The three-part series, “Acres & Avenues,” will feature three pairs of farmers and urban business people from around the nation who share ideas on sustainability, entrepreneurship and wellness.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Amid California drought, oil industry wastewater attracts new scrutiny

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Turning sewage into drinking water gains appeal as drought lingers

It’s a technology with the potential to ease California’s colossal thirst and insulate millions from the parched whims of Mother Nature, experts say. But there’s just one problem — the “yuck factor.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Central Valley’s growing concern: the mix of oil, water and crops

Here in California’s thirsty farm belt, where pumpjacks nod amid neat rows of crops, it’s a proposition that seems to make sense: using treated oil field wastewater to irrigate crops.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Worms help with waste at dairy farm near Hilmar

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.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

San Diego Mayor Faulconer lobbying Brown on drought

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

San Jose, Santa Clara mayors drink recycled sewage to push expanding reclaimed 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.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Work nears for $2 billion wastewater treatment upgrade in Elk Grove

What’s thought to be the largest public works project in Sacramento County history will get underway soon — but at a bit less of a cost to the users.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Utility officials say wipes pose sewer threat (with audio)

Sacramento utility officials say a common household item has the potential to create havoc on local sewer lines.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Anti-fracking protesters rally outside Long Beach workshop

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.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Manteca considers selling treated wastewater for farm irrigation (with audio)

A Manteca group called Neighbors United is urging the city council to sell treated wastewater to local farmers as water sources dry up in the drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

While promoting climate policies in Washington, Jerry Brown weathers fire at home

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Agencies admit failing to protect water sources from fuel pollution

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California orders 12 oil-field wells shut to protect groundwater

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.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma Clean Power inks deal for floating solar panel project

Sonoma County’s new public electricity supplier is turning to the sun and water — the airspace over treated sewage ponds, specifically — to generate power for local homes and businesses.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Hundreds of illicit oil wastewater pits found in Kern County

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Dixon sets vote on sewage rate increase, then sues to block it

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Recycled water project adds to Fresno water-rate debate

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California oil regulator cites ‘serious concerns’ on data collection

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.

Aquafornia news Municipal Sewer & Water Magazine

Historic wooden pipe display coming to WWETT 2015

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.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Dealing with sea level rise becomes real in Marin

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 …

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Environmental study predicts minor impact from recycled water project

A project to build a system for conveying recycled wastewater from Modesto and Turlock to farmland in western Stanislaus County won’t have a significant impact on the environment, a study says.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Historically expensive building project set to begin in Sacramento (with video)

With a price tag of $2 billion, Sacramento’s new sewer project is set to begin.

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Kern oil producer partners on field wastewater treatment project

A local demonstration project announced Tuesday would treat up to 136,500 gallons per day of oil field wastewater for reuse in agriculture and steam-based well stimulation.

Aquafornia news Detroit Free Press

Study: Diabetes drug affecting fish in Lake Michigan

Researchers have found that pharmaceuticals and personal-care byproducts persist at low levels miles from sewage discharge pipes in Lake Michigan.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Malibu approves sewage treatment plant

Taking a long-anticipated step to reduce coastal pollution, the Malibu City Council has voted to approve construction of a wastewater treatment plant in the Civic Center area.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: A boring subject

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.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Stormwater floods wastewater system in Sonoma Valley and Penngrove

Thursday’s deluge caused sewage spills in four areas of Sonoma Valley as well as one location in Penngrove, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News Release: Organizations pledge support, align resources with Urban Waters Federal Partnership

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.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Herald

Recycled wastewater could be key to Ferrini Ranch approval

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.

Aquafornia news Center for American Progress

Infographic: Flush floods

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.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenversations

Blog: Make purple your favorite color!

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.

Aquafornia news Center for American Progress

News Release: On Superstorm Sandy anniversary, CAP report calls for investment in better wastewater infrastructure

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Proposition 1 could lessen future water shortages, but at what cost?

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. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Another Ebola challenge: Disposing of medical waste

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.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News Release: EPA provides technical assistance to five communities for integrated planning of stormwater and wastewater projects

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing $335,000 in technical assistance to five communities to help them develop components of integrated plans for wastewater and stormwater management.

Video

Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

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.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

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. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater
Published 2013

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.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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 issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater

Wastewater Treatment Process in California

Wastewater management in California centers on the collection, conveyance, treatment, reuse and disposal of wastewater. This process is conducted largely by public agencies, though there are also private systems in places where a publicly owned treatment plant is not feasible.

In California, wastewater treatment takes place through 100,000 miles of sanitary sewer lines and at more than 900 wastewater treatment plants that manage the roughly 4 billion gallons of wastewater generated in the state each day.

Western Water Magazine

A Drought-Proof Supply: The Promise of Recycled Water
July/August 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines recycled water – its use, the ongoing issues and the prospects it holds for extending water supplies.