The state is currently investigating whether it is feasible to
develop standards for direct potable reuse, which would allow
treated wastewater to be sent direct to customers for drinking
without first being stored in a reservoir or aquifer.
The latest skirmish in the water wars asks the cryptic
question: When is water not really water? The answer, it seems,
is when words in an 83-year-old law – a law conceived long
before the notion that recycled sewage was anything but
disgusting – essentially negate its existence.
California officials this month adopted streamlined permitting
for nonpotable water recycling projects. By the end of this
year, they’re expected to do the same for potable water
recycling. Jennifer West of WaterReuse California explains
Drought-stressed Capitol Park will get $1.7 million for a
reclaimed water project in the new state budget, even though
the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst concluded that the
project won’t pencil out for more than a century and a half.
With broad local support for San Diego’s envisioned water
recycling program, Mayor Kevin Faulconer touted the plan again
last week — this time as one of his top-funded efforts to fight
climate change. However, his strategy for pulling off the
so-called Pure Water program isn’t a done deal.
A still-controversial 1992 law intended to boost California’s
striped-bass population can be scaled back, the Obama
administration now believes. … Another bill, by Rep. Doris
Matsui, D-Sacramento, to revise a water-recycling grant program
established in the 1992 law likewise secured administration
One of the many new technologies discussed Tuesday at a White
House Water Summit aims to reclaim water from showers and
sinks, clean it and use it for irrigation and flushing toilets,
among other non-potable uses in the same home.
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
California’s current drought may well be remembered as the
crisis that introduced people to recycled water. All over the
state, water agencies in 2015 began offering customers free
recycled water at designated “fill stations.”
California American Water’s latest Monterey Peninsula water
supply project cost estimates show a larger desalination plant
would cost the same as previous estimates, but a smaller desal
plant would be more expensive. That would potentially squeeze
the cost of a supplemental recycled water project unless it
qualifies for grants and low-cost financing.
Should El Niño not live up to the hype and dump heavy snow on
the Sierra, skiers and sledders at one resort could be gliding
downhill this winter on snow that comes from an unusual source:
purified water from the local sewage-treatment plant.
Unfazed by the taint of “toilet-to-tap,” the Water
Replenishment District of Southern California unveiled another
in a series of water recycling projects Tuesday that will help
end its reliance on imported water and provide
drought-insurance for its customers.
As the worst drought in California history threatens to enter a
fifth straight year, officials are advocating a variety of
water reuse projects they say will reduce Southern California’s
unquenchable thirst for imported water.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an
amended water recycling agreement between the county Water
Resources Agency and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution
Control Agency, the primary backer of the groundwater
replenishment project also known as Pure Water Monterey.
A critical source water agreement for the proposed Monterey
Peninsula groundwater replenishment project, and expanded North
Monterey County agricultural irrigation, is headed to the Board
of Supervisors on Tuesday after the county Water Resources
Agency board blessed it Monday.
San Franciscans who want to conserve water by irrigating their
yards with the runoff from their showers and bathroom sinks
will no longer have to get a $250 permit or inspection from the
city, under legislation introduced Tuesday by Supervisor Scott
Former sewer water was the drink of choice Saturday at an event
in Alivso to show off the county’s new advanced water
purification plant and tout the potential for recycled water.
… The verdict? Many thought it tasted pretty good.
A groundwater replenishment project aimed at providing the
Monterey Peninsula with potable recycled water continued to
forge ahead of California American Water’s desalination project
during a state Public Utilities Commission hearing Monday.
For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Water District has
paved the way for Southern California’s epic growth by securing
water from hundreds of miles away. This week, the mammoth
agency said it wants to invest closer to home in what would be
one of the world’s largest plants to recycle sewage into
Among the many consequences of California’s severe drought is
an escalating dispute involving San Diego County’s northern and
southern communities over the price of recycled water, which is
treated sewage used primarily for irrigation.
With California in the fourth year of a drought, a state
lawmaker has introduced a last-minute bill that would require
half of treated wastewater to be used for beneficial purposes,
including landscape watering, by 2026 and 100% usage by 2036.
A study published this week in the journal Environmental
Science & Technology found that when highly purified wastewater
was stored in an Orange County aquifer, the water caused
arsenic to escape from clay sediments in a way that naturally
infiltrating water did not.
A new recycled water fill-up station opened in Sonoma Valley
this week, becoming the second facility in the county where
residents can go to get highly treated wastewater to irrigate
their gardens and ornamental landscaping.
In the 1960s, when most of Irvine was farm fields, planners
realized the value of recycling water. In a remarkable act of
foresight, they built an extra set of pipes into plans for the
master-planned city to carry treated wastewater to those
Modesto is poised to take a big step Tuesday in its project to
send highly treated wastewater to drought-stricken West Side
farmers as soon as 2018, though the Turlock Irrigation District
remains a staunch opponent over concerns of how the project
will affect its groundwater basin.
The persistent drought has put a new emphasis on using more
recycled water for irrigation, a practice that has long been
allowed for some lawns, vineyards, golf courses and parks in
Sonoma County, but isn’t spreading fast enough for officials in
“Less watering — less growth,” Public Utilities Director Thomas
Esqueda says. The result could be a blow to City Hall’s efforts
to meet state guidelines for solid-waste recycling and landfill
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.
Battles have also commenced over solutions, with proposals for
desalination plants, tunnels and new storage projects competing
for priority. Each merits exploration, but none can be
implemented quickly enough to address our crisis. We can do
better by focusing on strategies within our grasp, starting
Business, however, is booming at the household recycled water
station in Pleasanton where water down the drain is converted
to drought relief for parched lawns and shrubs. Sewer plants in
Martinez and Livermore also have begun giving away reclaimed
water to drive-in customers, and plants in several other
California cities are considering it.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District board Tuesday night
approved a $17.5 million project that will deepen the use of
recycled water in the parched South Bay and make Apple’s
futuristic new campus a little bit greener.
Three thin streams of water fall into a row of steel sinks at
Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System
facility in Fountain Valley: one crystal clear, one slightly
yellowed, one a brackish brown-black.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the City of San Bernardino
Municipal Water District (SBMWD) will prepare a combined
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Environmental Impact
Report (EIR) for the Clean Water Factory in San Bernardino
County, California, to comply with both Federal and California
The Bureau of Reclamation is providing a funding opportunity
for communities in the West which may be seeking new sources of
water supplies using water recycling and reuse technologies.
… This funding opportunity is part of the Department of the
Interior’s WaterSMART initiative, which focuses on improving
water conservation, sustainability and helping water resource
managers make sound decisions about water use.
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.
For those who believe technological leaps will rescue society
from a collapsing ecological house, the cluster of monochrome
industrial buildings next to the Orange County Water District
headquarters holds wonders.
Dismissed only a few years ago by residents of California’s
second-largest city, San Diego is joining other California
cities that are taking a closer look at recycling wastewater
for drinking as the state suffers from severe drought.
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
The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking applications from
congressionally authorized sponsors of Title XVI Water
Reclamation and Reuse projects for cost-shared funding to plan,
design or construct their projects.
A demonstration house unveiled in El Dorado Hills last week by
national builder KB Home recycles drain water for toilets and
landscaping and can power itself entirely with solar panels.
… Water recycling has been gaining momentum in
California’s historic drought.
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.
California’s drought has created mandated water conservation
efforts, but some communities in Southern California, from
Huntington Beach to Los Angeles, are doing something extra:
trying to become water independent.
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
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.
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater,
and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and
turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource
through various activities.
This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12
about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to
clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and
prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The
video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference
between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is
not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The
teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that
homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.
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 Nevada Water provides an
overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada.
It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history
of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las
Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and
today’s water supply challenges.
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.
Wastewater management in California centers on the collection,
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.
Gray water, also spelled as grey water, is water that already has
been used domestically, commercially and industrially. This
includes the leftover, untreated water generated from clothes
washers, bathtubs and bathroom sinks.
This water source is a common way to recycle water and stretch
urban water supplies. As part of this, gray water ‘harvesting’
(the collecting of gray water from sinks, showers, etc.) is
increasingly popular, especially as a way to flush toilets.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy
requirements associated with water use and the means by which
state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge
and improve the management of both resources.
When a drought occurs as it has this year, the response is
couched in the three Rs of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse and
The reduction part is well-known. State and local officials are
urging people to use less water in everything they do, from
landscape irrigation to shorter showers. Spurred by California’s
difficulties, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on June 4 declared a
statewide drought. On July 10, the governor and Sen. Dianne
Feinstein announced their support of the Safe, Clean, Reliable
Drinking Water Supply Act of 2008 – a $9.3 billion bond proposal
that would allocate $250 million for water recycling projects.
This issue of Western Water examines the continuing practice of
smart water use in the urban sector and its many facets, from
improved consumer appliances to improved agency planning to the
improvements in water recycling and desalination. Many in the
water community say conserving water is not merely a response to
drought conditions, but a permanent ethic in an era in which
every drop of water is a valuable commodity not to be wasted.
Water is the true wealth in a dry land – Wallace Stegner
One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt signed
legislation that changed the course of American history and
permanently altered the landscape of the western United States.
The West of today retains some of the vestiges of the land that
brought the explorers, entrepreneurs and dreamers hundreds of
years ago. Despite the surge in population, vast tracts of
wilderness remain – forests thick with evergreen trees and
seemingly unending open spaces where human inhabitants are few
and far between.
Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999
in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we
are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional
water development of the past has given way to a more
collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment
while stretching available water supplies.