San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are
facing different but equally daunting water challenges.
For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater
sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in
expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated
farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the
early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet
years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major
concern. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if
they jointly developed and managed some water supplies. -Written by Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the
Public Policy Institute of California
The quality of the water crossing into San Diego from Tijuana
during storms is, well, not the greatest. If it could be
successfully recycled one day, that same polluted source would
be valuable to a region like ours that’s prone to drought.But
who owns the Tijuana River and who needs its water the most are
complex questions, because the area is ruled by international
California isn’t meeting its recycled water goals, and billions
of gallons of treated wastewater are being discharged into the
ocean or other water bodies each year, according to state
regulators, who say drought conditions could cause future
A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment
District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys
try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial
attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the
agency’s new general manager.
In a bold step toward a new kind of collaboration in the
Colorado River Basin, the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority are
partnering to explore development of a drought-proof water
supply that could reduce reliance on the over-stressed river.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is planning to recommend a
$6 million grant award for the construction of the Pure Water
Oceanside project. Pure Water Oceanside will purify
recycled water to create a local source of potable drinking
water. Currently, the city imports about 85% of its water from
hundreds of miles away at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta and the Colorado River.
For 60 years, Miramar Reservoir has been an integral part of
the City of San Diego’s drinking water system … Now, the
reservoir is being called into service to play a vital part in
San Diego’s future Pure Water system to sustain a reliable
If an options agreement between the [Ridgecrest] City Council
and Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority comes to
fruition, recycled water from the city’s wastewater facility
could help balance the groundwater basin… Both the council
and the groundwater authorities at their respective meetings
last week approved the option agreement between the two parties
for recycled wastewater.
Lake Miramar, a longtime recreational oasis celebrating its
60th anniversary this year, is about to become a key part of
San Diego’s new $5 billion Pure Water system that will boost
the city’s water independence by recycling treated sewage.
As the water resource manager for Santa Clara County, Valley
Water works diligently to secure a safe, reliable water supply
for Silicon Valley in a sustainable manner that protects our
environment. That’s why water reuse is a critical strategy to
the agency’s future water supply outlook.
Bear Republic Brewing Company started by trucking three
6,000-gallon trucks of waste from the Cloverdale brewery
location to a facility in Oakland roughly 90 miles away
one-way. This solution was simply unsustainable for many
reasons, and Bear Republic eventually partnered with Cambrian
Innovation to install two anaerobic reactors on site.
The Ridgecrest City Council Nov. 18 will discuss entering into
an agreement with the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
regarding treated wastewater. … The agreement would be for
five years, during which the city would provide for sale to the
IWVGA available recycled water produced at its wastewater
treatment plant upon 30-day notice to the city.
The Metropolitan Water District board voted to begin
environmental planning work on what would be one of the largest
advanced purified wastewater treatment plants in the world.
Metropolitan officials said the approval marks a significant
milestone for the Regional Recycled Water Program…
There’s some fascinating tension around a proposed wastewater
reclamation collaboration in Southern California. The project,
if it goes forward, would provide some 150 million gallons per
day (~170,000 acre feet per year) of treated effluent. Water
now being discharged into the ocean would instead be available
for aquifer recharge within Southern California.
Years in the works, Menlo Park’s first recycled water system is
up and running, carrying wastewater from local households to
the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club, where a new treatment
facility cleans the water for irrigation use, keeping the golf
course a lush emerald green.
If all goes according to plan, recycled water from the city’s
planned $45 to $60 million wastewater treatment facility may be
used to help balance the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin
as mandated by the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management
It’s little surprise California American Water’s proposed
desalination project and the fate of a public buyout effort
aimed at acquiring the company’s local water system are at the
core of the contests for two seats on the Monterey Peninsula
Water Management District board of directors…
The $681 million project, led by the East [San Diego]
County Advanced Water Purification Project Joint Powers
Authority, will recycle daily wastewater flows from Santee, El
Cajon, Lakeside, Winter Gardens and Alpine. The recycled water
will then go through an advanced treatment process that
includes membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and advanced
oxidation to produce purified water.
After about six months of construction, Morro Bay’s new water
reclamation facility is well underway — and it remains
politically divisive this election season, with three
candidates talking about halting or undoing the project, which
is the largest-ever infrastructure project in city history.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency received $10.5 million in
grants from the California Department of Water Resources to
fund five local projects related to recycling and water-quality
It’s still dry as dirt, but promises to be a central component
of future water supplies for the 165,000 people served by the
Santa Margarita Water District. While the district currently
imports 100% of its drinking water from the Colorado River and
northern California, the new Trampas Canyon Reservoir is part
of a plan to generate 30% of potable water supplies locally and
to recycle more wastewater.
Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California
selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship…
One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa
“Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who
spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne
Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work
The Soquel Creek Water District is pleased to announce that its
low-interest loan from the US Environmental Protection Agency
has been approved, to be used toward construction of the Pure
Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion
Prevention Project. The loan, up to a maximum of $88.9 million
at an interest rate of 1.34%, is part of the Water
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding program.
A letter posed an excellent question to the Soquel Creek Water
District – a question that comes up often in the community. To
paraphrase: with the Mid-County groundwater basin in a state of
critical overdraft, why is development that adds water users to
the already over-burdened water system allowed to continue?
Last week on these pages, you heard the President of California
American Water explain their rationale for withdrawing their
application for a desalination plant from the California
Coastal Commission the day before their Sept. 17 hearing. What
he didn’t tell you is that there is a feasible alternative
project that has less environmental impact, is more socially
just, and would be less costly to ratepayers
On Wednesday, at the virtual 35th Annual WateReuse Symposium,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency facilitated a
“charrette” to identify challenges and map solutions to
continue advancing the National Water Reuse Action Plan…
“Water reuse must be a central theme in EPA’s efforts to meet
21st century demands for water,” said EPA Assistant
Administrator for Water David Ross.
San Diego is not well endowed with many freshwater sources to
support its growing population, so some water experts are
perplexed the city’s ignoring a self-replenishing local
groundwater source that, though small in size, is safe from the
threat of natural disasters and reliably recharged by the San
This proposal by California American Water has become one of
the most complicated and fraught issues to come before the
California Coastal Commission, whose long-awaited vote on
Thursday could determine not only the contentious future
of water on the Monterey Peninsula — but also the role of
government in undoing environmental inequity.
The plan, approved by the board of directors, will help serve
more customers who use recycled water for irrigation,
construction grading, fire department usage. Additionally, the
board approved temporarily closing the Recycled Water Fill
Station No. 1 to move it, upgrade it and add better security
for the grounds.
The Utility of the Future Today recognition program celebrates
the achievements of water utilities that transform from a
traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery
center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience
of the communities they serve.
Expansion of the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project is
the best option for the Monterey region to meet its future
water supply needs. Unfortunately, California American Water
Co., a private water supplier, is discrediting the project in
hopes of getting approval for their much more costly, oversized
and environmentally harmful groundwater desalination project…
Santa Rosa miscalculated its stored water forecast near the
beginning of the irrigation season, leading to sudden limits on
water use that farmers say will cost them dearly in an already
dry year. In mid-June, the agricultural users were put on
notice: There would not be enough irrigation water for all to
last through the growing season, according to the city.
Nine months after the Coastal Commission conducted its first
hearing on California American Water’s proposed desalination
project, commission staff has again recommended denial of the
project in favor of a Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal.
In California, Monterey Regional Waste Management District and
its neighbor, wastewater treatment plant Monterey One Water,
have entered a somewhat unusual relationship with unique
benefits to each. And the relationship has payoffs for its
shared customers too.
Using Houston as a model, researchers at Rice’s Brown School of
Engineering have developed a plan that could reduce the need
for surface water (from rivers, reservoirs or wells) by 28% by
recycling wastewater to make it drinkable once again.
The development of a groundwater sustainability plan has begun
and will help ensure we can manage the Carpinteria Groundwater
Basin sustainably, which is an important shared resource for
the Carpinteria Valley. In addition, the Carpinteria Advanced
Purification Project, now under development, will allow us to
diversify our water portfolio so that we can be resilient in
future periods of drought.
The Ironhouse Sanitary District has released a video of how
residents of the City of Oakley and Bethel Island can utilize
the Recycled Water Fill Station. The station is open on
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Recycled
water can be used for the irrigation of lawns, plants, trees,
and vegetable gardens.
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit has
been granted to the city by the San Diego Regional Water
Quality Control Board to add purified water to Miramar
Reservoir for Phase 1 of the program.
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in
favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State Water
Resources Control Board to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and
“unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater
uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used
productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water
In his Aug. 2 Herald commentary, Grant Leonard claimed that Cal
Am’s proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project would be
a win-win for both Castroville, a disadvantaged community, and
Carmel, which is on the other side of the economic spectrum.
Some things challenge that claim.
The City of Oceanside was picked from among small agencies
throughout California as Recycled Water Agency of the Year for
its significant water recycling efforts. The city was
recognized with an Award of Excellence at WateReuse
California’s virtual conference earlier this summer.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board
of Directors recently approved the East County Advanced Water
Purification Program for its Local Resources Program, providing
approximately $86 million in funding for this important water
In separate actions Tuesday, Metropolitan’s Board of Directors
voted to provide $115 million to the San Diego County Water
Authority and its project partners for water produced by the
East County Advanced Water Purification Project in Santee and
the Escondido Filtration Reverse Osmosis Facility.
The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more
than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional
water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water
recycling and reuse to water conservation.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy is providing $20 million for innovations that
“strengthen America’s water infrastructure and enable advanced
water resource recovery systems that have the potential to be
net energy positive.” Over the next 10 years, 40 states expect
water shortages in some areas, according to the DOE.
The Orange County Water District has been awarded a $3.6
million grant from the California Department of Water Resources
Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) grant program for
use toward the construction of its Groundwater Replenishment
System (GWRS) Final Expansion project. Operational since 2008,
the GWRS is undergoing its second and final expansion.
Mostly, the people didn’t know their groundwater was polluted..
And they didn’t know the contaminated portions shut down by
federal authorities in many instances were finally being
restored. Kenneth “Ken” Manning, 69, a fixture in ground-water
restoration in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, a
pioneer in water recycling and a master at public-private
partnerships, knew. And on June 30, Manning will retire from
his most recent job, as executive director of the San Gabriel
Basin Water Quality Authority.
It seems some are willing to wait forever for a new water
supply. After 25 years of failure, they still trust Cal Am to
come up with a solution. But the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District is clearly done waiting. Last Monday, the
district board withdrew its support for Cal Am’s proposed desal
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District is
constructing the $375 million South Sacramento County
Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water Program, or the
South County Ag Program. As part of the wastewater provider’s
$2 billion treatment plant upgrade, the district will construct
new distribution pipelines to deliver recycled water from its
to irrigation systems in southern Sacramento County.
For the first time, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District has formally expressed opposition to the California
American Water desalination project, backing the proposed Pure
Water Monterey recycled water project expansion instead… At
the same time, the district took another step toward potential
acquisition of Cal Am’s Monterey water system with the release
of a draft environmental impact report on the proposed public
To a large extent, the fate of several multi-million dollar
water projects on the Monterey Peninsula is in the hands of the
California Coastal Commission. The question is whether the
commission will grant a development permit for a desalination
plant proposed by California American Water…
Water agencies in California typically include water recycling
in their water supply portfolios, but the ones that serve
smaller populations may not be able to implement full-blown
reuse programs all at once. The City of Paso Robles, home to
approximately 30,000 residents, shows it’s possible to build
water resilience without building an advanced purification
The Bureau of Reclamation is providing $16.6 million to nine
congressionally authorized Title XVI Water Reclamation and
Reuse projects in California and Hawaii. This funding, part of
the WaterSMART Program, is for the planning, design, and
construction of water recycling and reuse projects in
partnership with local government entities.
Thousands of people in Marina are being blocked from full
representation on the board of a regional water agency, a
casualty of a larger battle over the water future of the
Monterey Peninsula. The agency is Monterey One Water, and it is
responsible for treating sewage.
A Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal has narrowly survived
another attempt to shelve it indefinitely even as the main
recycled water project struggles with operational and cost
issues that have further postponed its water delivery date and
hampered its capacity.
Over email, local water activists concocted a secret plan to
derail a vote that would potentially kill one water project and
bolster the prospects of another. The idea was to stage a
“filibuster” of the Monterey One Water board meeting scheduled
for Tuesday, May 26.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously
approved a service agreement for an East County water project.
East County Advanced Water Purification is a regional project
that includes the county Sanitation District, Padre Dam
Municipal Water District, the city of El Cajon and Helix Water
District. Those entities are also part of a joint powers
authority, which was formed last November.
Despite its reputation as a conservative owner, the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is piloting
a bold new initiative to produce an additional regional water
source through its Regional Recycled Water Program, which aims
to take treated sanitation water and purify it to produce
high-quality drinking water. … The $3.4-billion plan could
produce up to 150 million gallons of purified water daily,
addressing the needs of more than 500,000 homes and industrial
The board of Monterey One Water recently voted not to certify a
supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) for an
expansion of Pure Water Monterey. While the expansion was a
technical concept that might provide additional water for the
Peninsula, the Board action injected some much-needed clear
thinking and foresight into a critical topic for the Monterey
As a result of compliance with conservation measures through
lower indoor water use, the amount of wastewater effluent was
reduced. This reduction means less water for recycling and
reuse — a source of water often thought of as drought-proof —
and less water for stream augmentation, with a consequence of
potentially impacting streamflow and downstream water
What we in Los Angeles should want from the Met is a continuing
flow of clean water from the faucet — but this time with
planning and infrastructure that reduce reliance on diminishing
imports, minimize damage to our fellow Californians in the
delta and elsewhere, and sustain iconic species like migrating
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District officials have
requested the Monterey One Water board certify the Pure Water
Monterey expansion project supplemental environmental impact
report within 30 days and is withholding more than $600,000
representing part of its share of the environmental review.
“Regulatory guidelines for virus removal in potable reuse
systems need additional review for possible more stringent
requirements in the event of a coronavirus outbreak,” says an
April 2 editorial in the journal Environmental Science and
Water Technology, co-authored by Haizhou Liu of UC
Riverside’s department of chemical and environmental
West County Wastewater and East Bay Municipal Utility District
announced a recycled water partnership that will preserve
valuable drinking water for the region and support West County
Wastewater’s ongoing mission of environmental stewardship and
protecting public health.
A proposed Pure Water Monterey expansion at the center of a
contentious debate over the future of the Monterey Peninsula’s
water supply hit a huge roadblock on Monday night, leaving its
future in serious doubt.
A dam and reservoir under construction on land acquired from
Rancho Mission Viejo has not been affected by the coronavirus
pandemic, according to Santa Margarita Water District Deputy
General Manager Don Bunts. Recent rainfall, however, has
affected the Trampas Canyon Dam and Reservoir project, which
intends to store recycled water.
Amid continuing debate over the role the proposed Pure Water
Monterey recycled water project expansion will play in the
Monterey Peninsula’s water supply, the proposal has reached a
key stage. On Monday, the Monterey One Water board is scheduled
to consider certifying a final supplemental environmental
impact report for the expansion project…
As of March, the East Valley Water District’s Sterling Natural
Resource Center construction project reached the halfway point
to scheduled completion⎯about 18 months in and 18 months left
to work. The water recycling plant will be capable of treating
up to 10 million gallons per day, depositing the clean water
into percolation ponds in order to recharge the Bunker Hill
Two bipartisan draft water infrastructure bills unveiled this
week by the Senate environment committee are a good start but
will need even more funding in the wake of the coronavirus
pandemic, water agencies and other groups said Wednesday.
Given the recent impact of PFAS on other aspects of the water
and wastewater industry, it is important to determine the
consequences potential new regulation andnew public awareness
of PFAS will have for potable reuse projects.
Californians reuse treated wastewater as a water supply, to
irrigate crops, and to support freshwater ecosystems. To get
answers to questions about managing the new coronavirus in the
“sewershed,” we talked to two experts: Kara Nelson, an expert
in waterborne pathogens at UC Berkeley; and Adam Link,
executive director of the California Association of Sanitation
Stormwater is the rain and other water that runs off of streets
and sidewalks into nearby gutters or waterways. Communities
throughout the western U.S. are expanding efforts to collect
this valuable water resource. These projects range from
capturing water from a single rooftop or driveway to developing
large infiltration basins that recharge billions of gallons of
water each year in groundwater basins.
In a time when many people in the world are inside their houses
to stop the spread of covid-19, it is easy to forget that good
news still exists. The Environmental Protection Agency’s
National Water Reuse Action Plan is a bit of good news. The
Plan, announced on February 27, 2020, by EPA Administration
Andrew Wheeler, prioritizes the use of recycled water.
Likely just in time for the real thing, a “Mock Frost” event
was held this week to test the capacity of the city of Ukiah’s
recycled Water System, also called the Purple Pipe. … “It
went well,” Ukiah grape grower David Koball said of the test.
“There was lots of water pressure and we had no issues.”
The Water and Wastewater Pathway at Indian Springs High School
is strategically located near East Valley Water District’s new
state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. The Sterling
Natural Resource Center (SNRC) will provide a sustainable new
water supply to boost the region’s water independence.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its
National Water Reuse Action Plan to promote more water reuse in
the U.S. William M. Alley, director of science and technology
for the National Ground Water Association, says the plan
focuses on low-hanging fruit and states and associations will
likely remain the leaders and innovators in water reuse.
A new National Water Reuse Action Plan focuses on water reuse
practices aimed at strengthening water security, sustainability
and resilience for both rural and urban communities. … The
EPA and its partners hope to increase water reuse to address
the rising demands for water across the United States.
Currently, water reuse amounts to less than 1 percent of the
In a part of the country where freshwater supplies are often
scarce, the Olivenhain (California) Municipal Water District is
doing its part. The 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility
recycles some 1 million gallons of high-quality effluent each
day for irrigation and shares even more with neighboring
A multi-partner water recycling project is helping Monterey,
Calif., stabilize and replenish its dwindling groundwater
supply. The project could serve as a model for shrinking
aquifers in other regions of the country.
In partnership with the Diablo Water District, the Ironhouse
Sanitary District is examining the potential to reintroduce
treated wastewater into the drinking water supply through a
process called indirect water reuse.
Legal wrangling over San Diego’s proposed Pure Water sewage
recycling system continued Friday, when a judge gave a
temporary reprieve to a group of local contractors fighting for
the ability of non-union workers to help build the system.
Legal wrangling over San Diego’s proposed Pure Water sewage
recycling system continued Friday, when a judge gave a
temporary reprieve to a group of local contractors fighting for
the ability of non-union workers to help build the system.
San Diego’s long-awaited Pure Water project, a sewage recycling
system that would boost the city’s water independence, is
facing legal challenges that could last longer and cost more
than city officials previously anticipated.
Oceanside celebrated the start of construction Wednesday on a
project that could make it the first city in San Diego County
to be drinking recycled water by 2022. At least two other
cities or water districts are close behind on similar projects,
and several more agencies are considering plans to make potable
recycled water a significant portion of their supply.
A planned water recycling plant project took a leap forward
this week after approval of a new land purchase. The Soquel
Creek Water District board voted unanimously Tuesday night to
exercise its $3.2 million option to purchase nearly 2 acres of
Live Oak light industrial property at the corner of Chanticleer
and Soquel drives.
Marking a historic moment for the city of Oceanside and the
region, city officials and water industry leaders will break
ground on Pure Water Oceanside on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m.
at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility. Scheduled to be
completed before the end of 2021, Pure Water Oceanside will be
on the map as the first operating recycled water project in San
City staff recommends Pleasanton sign on to a potentially $1
million task order with three other Tri-Valley public water
agencies for preliminary studies and community outreach … to
explore the possibility of supplementing the local water supply
with recycled water treated for drinking purposes, better known
as potable reuse water.
The governing boards of the two water agencies, which combined
serve southern and eastern San Diego County, recently created a
joint committee to explore a potential arrangement that would
allow Sweetwater to purchase recycled water from Otay.
Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state
approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled
water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day
inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s
advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on
Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both
verbally and by email.
Vast amounts of valuable energy, agricultural nutrients, and
water could potentially be recovered from the world’s
fast-rising volume of municipal wastewater, according to a new
study by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water,
Environment and Health.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is confronting the United
States’ biggest challenge in recycling municipal wastewater:
the “gak” factor. It takes a lot for some people to understand
the idea that recycling wastewater really does eliminate the
“waste” in the water before it is ready to be reused.
For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by
invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But
the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more
aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions
of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep
Although water purified at the Silicon Valley Advanced
Purification Center is not currently part of Santa Clara
County’s supply of drinking water, the goal is to make that a
reality within the next decade or so.
The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, located just south of
LAX, purifies water and injects it into the ground to act as a
barrier between seawater and fresh groundwater. … But the
idea is to one day recycle wastewater into drinking water and
put it right back into the system. The industry is moving
cautiously, though, given what you might call a considerable
“ick” factor for the public.
According to Monterey One Water general manager Paul Sciuto,
the best-case scenario now is the much-anticipated $126 million
recycled water project would be able to start delivering water
to the basin by early February, about a month later than the
most recent previous estimate…
A project in the Salinas Valley aims to remove contaminants
like phosphate from the water at a lower cost using much less
energy. … Partnering with the city of Salinas and the
wastewater treatment facility, the project aims to remove
phosphates efficiently and recycle water for groundwater
recharge and irrigation water to farmers.
Hailing it as a “historic” agreement, Santa Clara County’s
primary water supplier, Valley Water, enthusiastically approved
on Dec. 10 a 76-year deal with Palo and Mountain View to
construct a water purification plant in the Baylands with the
intent of greatly expanding use of recycled water.
California is at a water crossroads. We can continue our
costly, 100-year-old pattern of trying to find new water
supplies, or we can choose instead to focus on smarter ways of
using – and reusing – what we already have.
The nearly $4 million project, assisted with $3.4 million in
state grants and a $1 million match from Pajaro Valley Water,
is expected to further reduce groundwater pumping in the area,
so as to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft
while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.
Legislation needs to be implemented to lessen pollution. And
all sectors — public and private — need to be educated about
the importance of saving water, as does society more broadly.
High on the list should be efforts to investigate the benefits
and risks of drinking reused water, including ways to make it
more acceptable to consumers.
UC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that
can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water.
Along with its ability to destroy organic pollutants like
bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into
stormwater, an abundant but underused water source.
Rather than physically move water hundreds of kilometers across
earthquake country between Northern California and San
Bernardino, the plan involves reallocating water virtually,
just as you would electronically transfer funds from one bank
account to another. Once the Chino Basin Program is
operational, in times of drought the southern region can draw
water from the new reserve instead of from the State Water
Project… That will mean water impounded by Oroville Dam can
be released into the Feather River, benefitting endangered
There’s a war over the future of water on the Monterey
Peninsula and it’s taking place in the board chambers of half a
dozen state and local government entities. It’s also taking
place on social media and in the press.
A bi-national conference at San Diego State University was
aimed at analyzing water resources in the Baja California and
San Diego border region where challenges include cross-border
pollution and water scarcity… Experts at the Reborder 2019
conference discussed ways to improve regional access to “a
secure and reliable water supply” through wastewater treatment
A reservoir and water dam project aiming to store recycled
water is on track, according to water management officials. The
Santa Margarita Water District gave a tour of the Trampas
Canyon Reservoir and Dam on Saturday, Nov. 16. Construction
began in January 2018 and is expected to finish by 2020.
Manisha Kothari looked every bit the bartender as she filled a
dozen shot glasses, pouring carefully from a slender pitcher.
… What Kothari, a water resource specialist, filled the
glasses with looked, smelled and tasted like what comes out of
any city faucet, but it had been harvested from the San
Francisco water agency’s toilets, sinks and shower drains.
The pricetag for recycled drinking water just got less
expensive for Mid-County customers. The State Water Resources
Control Board unanimously approved a $50 million grant for
Soquel Creek Water District’s pending Pure Water Soquel
Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention
A $32.6 million addition to a water treatment facility rising
out of the ground under giant cranes will turn waste into
electricity, and provide education, jobs and more to an
underserved community, according to the East Valley Water
District. A co-digester added to the Sterling Natural Resource
Center project will turn sewage and food waste into three
megawatts of power per year, enough to power about 1,950
If people are educated on recycled water, they may come to
agree it’s perfectly safe and tastes as good — or better –
than their drinking water. … But that doesn’t mean they’re
going to use recycled water — and it sure doesn’t mean they’ll
drink it. And the reason lies in the word “disgust.”
Although still relegated largely to populated areas in such
water-challenged states as California, Arizona, Texas, and
Florida, water reuse is gaining ground in other areas. At the
same time, the focus of water reuse increasingly is shifting to
On September 10, 2019, at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium
in San Diego, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a
draft National Water Reuse Action Plan for public
comment—containing 46 proposed actions, to be accomplished by a
mix of federal, state, private, local and private stakeholders,
in order to promote 10 strategic objectives.
Orange County’s wastewater recycling program, a pioneering idea
that’s already touted as the largest of its type in the world,
is about to get bigger. Big enough, in fact, to serve the tap
water needs of about 1 million residents, according to the
Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation
The creation of the JPA marks a key milestone in moving forward
the project that will create a new, local, sustainable and
drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art
technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.
How do we mitigate the “yuck factor” that many people have
about reclaimed water use, when it’s been proven safe and
effective elsewhere? These concerns were discussed at
GreenerBuilder 2019, USGBC’s conference in the Pacific region,
hosted in San Francisco, where industry experts from across the
state led a panel discussion on tactics to improve onsite water
The revamped and expanded plant is expected to be operational
in spring 2021 and will do so with a new name — The Rosamond
CSD Water Reclamation Plant — to better describe its ultimate
purpose. In addition to handling the community’s wastewater
disposal, the plant will recharge the underlying groundwater
basin, providing additional groundwater for the District to
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to remove pro-union
language from contracts for Pure Water, a recycling system that
would purify treated sewage into drinking water and supply
one-third of San Diego’s water supply by 2035. The pro-union
language had prompted a judge to issue an injunction halting
Now is the time to focus on Pure Water Monterey and scrap the
desal plans. If 10 years from now the recycled water project
doesn’t do the trick, and there’s still a need for a desal
plant, we can be optimistic that future advances in technology
will make any desal option more environmentally-friendly and
A team led by USC Viterbi’s Adam Smith has found that purified
water returned to Southern California aquifers often becomes
contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a realization
that could have major implications on the global water supply.
Late last month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $100
million research grant to the National Alliance for Water
Innovation (NAWI) to lead an Energy-Water Desalination Hub.
Meagan Mauter explains how this very large and potentially
transformative project will work, and Stanford’s role in the
As of last month, Scottsdale’s Advanced Water Treatment Plant
at the city’s water campus in north Scottsdale got permission
to do something no other Arizona city can do: turn recycled
water into drinking water.
The Ventura City Council approved a $200 million-plus plan
Monday that will give the city more drinking water and greatly
reduce the treated wastewater its sewer plant releases into the
Santa Clara River estuary. The big-ticket item in the city’s
plan is a new plant that will take wastewater that once went
into the estuary and treat it to drinking water standards…
On Friday night the governor signed Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s
Assembly Bill 1413, which will support local referendums on
transit funding, and Assembly Bill 1290 by Gloria and Sen. Toni
Atkins that clears the way for the pioneering Pure Water
While cities on the Monterey Peninsula have been working to
address housing needs and the business community is actively
looking to create more jobs, there is one component they all
need to complete their plans – reliable, drought-proof access
In its effort to establish a new, drought-proof source of water
that could serve a half-million Southern California homes, the
Metropolitan Water District on Thursday, Oct. 10 unveiled a $17
million pilot plant that will bring wastewater to drinkable
The city of Oceanside is offering tours to experience Pure
Water Oceanside, an innovative program that will purify
recycled water to create a new local source of high-quality
drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and
environmentally sound. Pure Water Oceanside will produce enough
water to provide more than 32% of the city’s water supply, or
3-5 million gallons per day.
Whenever I visit my hometown of Orange County, California, I
get to sip some of the purest drinking water in the US. The
quality is sometimes hard to spot, since many drinking-water
contaminants are odorless, tasteless, and invisible to the
human eye. Even in cities where the water is contaminated with
lead, residents have reported that their taps are crystal
clear. But in Orange County, the water is actually as clean as
The project is the first of its kind to tap agricultural
run-off among a variety of wastewater sources for conversion
into potable, drinking water that would represent about a third
of the Monterey Peninsula’s new drinking water supply.
Over 30 years, Cal Am’s Desal would cost $1.2 billion while the
Pure Water Monterey expansion would be only $190 million. But
the cost in dollars is not the only comparison that should be
made. The environmental cost comparison is also dramatic.
California isn’t in an official drought and under mandatory
water conservation, but climate change means that saving water
is always crucial. That’s why a recent announcement should not
go unnoticed: The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation
District won state approval to deliver recycled water to
agricultural and habitat conservation land in the southern part
of the county.
The Palmdale Water District extended its contract with the Los
Angeles County Sanitation District 20 for recycled water, as
projects for this water have been delayed for circumstances
beyond their control.
On the heels of a severe drought and years of water rationing,
a longstanding plan to provide recycled water for the vast lawn
at the Santa Barbara Cemetery is finally gaining some momentum.
At a joint committee meeting this week, members of the
Montecito Water and Sanitary District boards and staffs
tentatively agreed to collaborate on recycled water for the
The project, called the Upper Salinas River Basin Conjunctive
Use Project, captures existing wastewater flows generated
within the eastside of the District and will return these flows
back to the Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. The
wastewater undergoes treatment and is then discharged into the
river alluvium that contains the Salinas River underflow
providing subsequent conveyance to district wells…
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.
In an effort to open the spigot on recycled water in the
region, Palo Alto and Santa Clara Valley Water are exploring a
deal that would send the city’s wastewater to a treatment plant
elsewhere in the county, where it would be treated, transformed
into potable water and potentially resold to the city for its
residents and businesses.
Rancho California Water District was one of only five
communities in California, Hawaii and Texas to win a
competitive grant from the United States Bureau of Reclamation.
The district will receive $1,727,960 to fund the extension of
their recycled water pipeline in parts of Temecula and
After years of scientific progress, regulatory wrangling,
political ups and downs, and searching for the money, San Diego
is getting ready to get to work on a multi-part,
multibillion-dollar project that will eventually provide a
third of the city’s drinking water.
Efforts to increase recycled water use in California got a
significant boost this week with the State Water Board’s
issuance of an order authorizing the Sacramento Regional County
Sanitation District’s program to deliver an average of 45
million gallons per day of recycled water from the Sacramento
Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant …
Residential graywater offers up a huge potential for our city
to offset potable water use. When the next drought rolls
around, and it will, we could be sitting pretty with healthy
trees and landscapes using less water from the Sierra than we
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on
Tuesday, Sept. 10, approved $5 million for a stormwater pilot
project to determine the best and most efficient way to capture
the tens of billions of gallons of rainwater that flow off
roofs and pavement each year.
When the next drought rolls around, and it will, we could be
sitting pretty with healthy trees and landscapes using less
water from the Sierra than we do now. How could we accomplish
this? The answer is graywater, defined in California as the
discharge from laundry wash water, showers, and bathroom sinks.
To end a labor dispute that’s halted work on one of the largest
and most important water projects in San Diego history,
Assemblyman Todd Gloria rolled out a bill Friday to require
union-friendly terms for work on the project.
The city of Ukiah made its first delivery of recycled water
through its extensive Purple Pipe system this week, putting
about 2 million gallons of water reclaimed from local sinks,
showers and toilets into an irrigation pond just south of the
Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Increasingly, California’s water will come from transforming
the water we flush down our toilets, sinks, and washing
machines into sparkling, pure water. Indeed, potable water
reuse seems like a no-brainer. So why don’t we do it? In some
places, we already do, and those places have lessons for the
rest of the state and beyond.
Escondido is moving forward on a reverse osmosis treatment
facility that will reduce the city’s wastewater and also
provide more recycled water for agricultural use. The project
will divert millions of gallons of water from the discharge
pipeline, and turn it into highly treated irrigation water.
It’s expected to begin construction in early 2020…
Under the plan, Seaside’s Bayonet & Black Horse golf course
would stop pumping the 450 acre-feet of drinking water it draws
every year from the area’s underground basin. Instead, the
greens would get irrigated using recycled water produced by
Pure Water Monterey, the advanced sewage treatment facility in
Marina that is slated to open this fall. The water that stays
in the basin would be made available to developers who want to
build in Seaside.
Oxnard Assistant Public Works Director Tien Ng presented the
item and said the city wants to integrate the water, wastewater
recycled water and stormwater while looking for opportunities
to align projects on the same street. They want to do them at
the same time. Doing this enhances the schedule and cost for
Arguing that Monterey County officials improperly ignored new
groundwater impact information and a viable, even preferable
recycled water alternative, Marina Coast Water District has
sued the county and California American Water over the county’s
narrow approval of Cal Am’s desalination plant permit.
Rural Coombsville is getting a filling station — not for
gasoline, but recycled water. This station will dispense
cleaned-up water from the Napa Sanitation District sewage
treatment plant. People will be able to sign up, pull up and
One year from its initiation of the design-build process for
the Sterling Natural Resource Center water recycling plant,
East Valley Water District (EVWD) Board of Directors reviewed
the project’s considerable progress and adopted a few
modifications during a July 24 meeting. … The project will
construct a wastewater recycling plant capable of treating up
to 10 million gallons per day.
A major barrier to using urban stormwater is that it’s dirty.
Rain starts picking up contaminants the moment it hits
rooftops, streets, and other hard surfaces, as well as
landscapes laden with fertilizer and herbicides. … New
research shows that a cost-effective, low-tech approach can go
a long way toward cleaning up urban stormwater.
Like many communities throughout California, Carpinteria faces
sustained and historic drought conditions. … In response to
the shortfall, CVWD proposes a $25 million project to take
wastewater that has been cleaned, purify it and then inject it
into the groundwater basin to be used for various needs,
including potable drinking water.
A team of scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Colorado
School of Mines (Mines) is developing a microbe-based system
that could remove toxic compounds from oilfield produced water
so it can be reused in other water-intensive sectors such as
agriculture and energy production.
By 2030, the Carpinteria Valley Water District estimates that
on a dry year, the deficit could be as high as 1,550 acre
feet—enough to fill 775 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or serve
the average yearly use of 6,200 local households. In response
to the shortfall, CVWD proposes a $25 million project to take
wastewater that has been cleaned, purify it and then inject it
into the groundwater basin…
Just how much Manteca’s treated wastewater is worth to
agricultural users served by the Delta Mendota Canal that are
often at the mercy of fish flows diversions and drought that
reduces their Central Valley Project allocations may be
determined in the coming year.
The Soquel Creek Water District board met … voted unanimously
to approve an agreement with the city of Santa Cruz to build a
tertiary treatment plant for its Pure Water Soquel project
onsite at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Facility, which also
will supply the water supply for the project.
Fifty feet below the platform of the Powell Street BART Station
sits the starting point for one of the largest water recycling
projects in San Francisco — one that’s transforming dirty
groundwater into clean steam heat for hundreds of downtown
buildings. In the process, it’s saving tens of millions of
gallons of drinking water annually.
For around 20 years, Los Angeles has shipped a large portion of
“biosolids” from its toilets to fertilize a farm it owns just
west of Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in return, has been providing
an annual load of 18,000 acre-feet of free water to the farm.
However, after passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, the value of treated wastewater increased.
A coalition of 55 environmental, fishing, and water policy
groups has written Gov. Gavin Newsom, backing his Water
Portfolio planning process, and announcing that they plan to
take an active part with their own proposals for the plan.
Colorado was the last Western state to legalize greywater usage
in 2013. Officials say that by 2050, our water supply could
fall short for over one million people. … Colorado’s Water
Plan wants to close the gap and recognizes greywater as one
tool to help make that happen. However, not a single
state-approved greywater system has been built since it was
A bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Martha McSally and Kyrsten
Sinema would put aside hundreds of millions of dollars for
water storage projects, water recycling, and desalination
plants. … The bill is also sponsored by California Democratic
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Colorado Republican Senator Cory
Summer is a good time to take a
break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and
watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting
a chance to do plenty of that this July.
But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss
some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re
taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned
for later this year, we want to help you catch up on
Western Water stories from the first half of this year
that you might have missed.
The $650 million project involves a joint financial partnership
between Padre Dam, Helix, San Diego County and the city of El
Cajon. The Helix board voted 4-1 last week to continue funding
the Advanced Water Purification project, which is expected to
have reclaimed water flowing into faucets by 2025.
One of the vineyard owners hooked up to the city’s Purple Pipe
is anxiously waiting for the recycled water to begin flowing,
asking this week if he would need to begin tapping the Russian
River near his property to irrigate instead.
A legal case brought by the Associated General Contractors has
delayed the Pure Water project, one of the city’s most
ambitious undertakings ever. Hundreds of jobs are on the line,
but the stakes may be even higher regionally.
The 2018-19 Solano County grand jury concluded that if treated
wastewater could be used to irrigate crops that saved water
would help meet the water needs of a growing population. …
The grand jury also had recommendations on plant efficiency and
taking advantage of other renewable energies and plant output,
such as using wind and solar power for plant operations…
Californians have been doing an
reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive
the most recent drought when water districts were required to
meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable,
Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water
in the future.
A congressional bill includes almost $14 million in funding for
water projects in the Central Valley and Northern California.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, said he was successful in working
the funding into an Energy and Water Development appropriations
bill that includes spending for infrastructure across the
Wastewater agencies produce highly treated water that is
increasingly being reused as a water supply. While it’s still
only a small portion of overall water use, the use of recycled
water has nearly tripled since the 1980s―and is continuing to
rise as water agencies seek to meet the demands of a growing
population and improve the resilience of their water supplies.
Billions of gallons of treated wastewater is dumped into our
California coast each day, and with it, billions of resident
dollars are quite literally going to waste. Why aren’t we
utilizing available solutions to stop this sewage discharge and
capitalize on our people’s investment in clean drinking water?
The idea was to count the reductions in water consumption
thanks to new irrigation sources, and count that water toward
the city’s water yearly water allowance. After that, the city
would make those excess water credits available for sale to the
residents and businesses that had languished on the city’s
water waiting list, sometimes for years.
Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water
District board will enter an initial five-month “option to
purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak.
The purchase option period … is designed to give district
officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land,
assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure
Water Soquel plant.
In California, treated wastewater also is a critical source of
water for the environment, and, increasingly, a source for
recycled water. Climate change is worsening water scarcity and
flood risks. Advancements in engineering and technology can
help prepare wastewater agencies for a changing climate. But
significant shifts in policy and planning are needed to address
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Cucamonga Valley Water
District and the City of Fontana held a groundbreaking ceremony
for the Village of Heritage Recycled Water Project in the
northwestern area of the city. About 8,200 linear feet of
pipeline will be installed in an effort to decrease the use of
imported water in Fontana, officials said. The pipeline will be
an extension of the existing Baseline recycled water
Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday unveiled a Green New Deal for Los
Angeles, setting aggressive new environmental goals in a range
of areas, including electric autos, air quality, trees and
public transit. … The plan includes a reiteration of some
previous commitments, but also sets some new benchmarks,
including sourcing 70% of L.A.’s water locally and
recycling 100% of all wastewater for beneficial reuse by 2035.
Despite cost increases and weather-related delays, construction
of the 1.6 billion-gallon Trampas Canyon Reservoir in south
Orange County is well underway and officials continue pointing
to long-term savings to be gleaned by reducing the need for
imported water. … Construction costs have soared from the
2016 estimate of $56 million to $83 million today…
The current five members of the Montecito Water Board ran as
slate candidates in 2016 and 2108, and they won election
largely on the promise of recycling treated wastewater for
irrigation. A group of wealthy donors poured $200,000 into
their campaigns. Yet the new board seems in no hurry to get the
Cal Am is seeking California Public Utilities Commission
approval to start raising local customers’ rates by May 11 to
pay for the 7-mile pipeline from Seaside to Pacific Grove,
which is in operation and is designed to allow pumping of new
desalinated and recycled water sources from the Seaside basin
to local customers.
In an effort to end Thousand Oaks’ near total reliance on
imported water, public works staff is asking the City Council
to commit $16.6 million over the next two years to build a
groundwater treatment plant at the city’s publicly owned golf
course. The Los Robles Greens Golf Course Groundwater
Utilization Project—which will be offset with an estimated $6
million in State Water Project (Prop. 1) grants—is the single
most expensive item on the city’s proposed $97-million 2019-21
capital improvement program budget…
The dominant water issue facing our community and every
community in California today is the insecurity of the water
supply. The California Legislature is facing up to the serious
need to take less water from the surface and groundwater for
human use to preserve wildlife habitats and industries such as
fishing. Both depend upon water filling the streams and
waterways that ultimately find their way to the ocean.
Currently, the city has two significant environmental impact
reports, which CEQA requires, making their way through the
development process. One is for a plan to build a 7-mile
pipeline to tap into Ventura’s long-held investment in state
water. … The other project would capture effluent from
Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, treat it and turn it into
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget
for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the
highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history. …
The budget includes an infrastructure investment of $715.8
million, an increase of nearly 300% over the $179.4 million
infrastructure allocation in the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget
… More than half of that is earmarked for the city’s Pure
Water program, which aims to recycle sewage into drinking
On 177 acres situated between San Clemente’s Talega community
and Ortega Highway, mountainous earthworks are taking shape.
Santa Margarita Water District … is building a
1.6-billion-gallon reservoir. When completed in 2020, Trampas
Canyon Reservoir, less than a half-mile north of Talega, will
be able to store recycled wastewater collected from as many as
five South Orange County treatment plants.