Water Recycling

undefinedUsing Recycled Water to Protect Water Quality and Ensure a Reliable Water Supply

Conservation is the most effective way to ensure greater water sustainability, and there is much more we can do to “reduce our water footprint.”  Water recycling, however, will also be an increasingly important part of California's sustainable water future. The key to making recycled water part of a sustainable water supply is to use it in a way that protects both public health and waterway health. CCKA takes action to ensure that California meets that challenge. 

Recycled water can contain pollutants that pass through the recycling treatment process. The California Department of Public Health (DPH) has set standards to protect human health from some of these pollutants. Unfortunately, these standards may not be sufficient to fully protect ecosystem health. For example, copper in recycled water can be far more toxic to aquatic life than to humans.  Questions also remain with respect to new contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals in drinking water. The Associated Press released an investigation revealing that the drinking water supplies of 41 million Americans are polluted by such "emerging contaminants." The same Associated Press investigation revealed that fish and wildlife also may be affected by emerging contaminants. The Recycled Water Policy calls for a Blue Ribbon Panel to review the science on emerging contaminants and report back to the State Water Board within a year. The expert panel's report was released in June 2010 and was to be considered in 2011 by the State Water Board.  Unfortunately, other priorities have delayed the State Water Board's review of the report until 2012.

CCKA Is Taking Action

Credit: CDEGlobalFor several years, the State Water Board worked to develop a statewide recycled water policy designed to advance the use of recycled water consistent with public health and water quality laws. The State Water Board declined to take action on its proposed Recycled Water Policy at their spring 2008 meeting, instead granting the request of the regulated and environmental communities to initiate a stakeholder process to develop a strategy for achieving the state's recycled water goals. CCKA was instrumental in ensuring this outcome, and was named to the stakeholder working group charged with developing a draft Recycled Water Policy.  CCKA worked extensively to help write the Recycled Water Working Group’s consensus draft Recycled Water Policy. In 2009, the State Water Board adopted a Policy closely tracking this consensus document, and then applied the Policy to the development of its Recycled Water Landscape Irrigation Permit. CCKA worked to help ensure that this Permit, which the Board adopted in July 2009, is protective of water quality.  CCKA will continue to track the Permit's implementation.

CCKA since has weighed in with comments to the State Water Board on the expert panel's draft and final reports on emerging contaminants.  CCKA is working to ensure that the final state policy protects both human and waterway health from these pollutants, while advancing recycled water as a safe alternative water source for the state.  In 2012, CCKA submitted comments to the California Department of Public Health regarding its draft regulations on Groundwater Replenishment with Recycled Water.  CCKA is also working to ensure that legislation, like SB 2398, will promote water recycling as a sustainable water supply strategy while protecting water quality.
Please watch the short video below for more information on water recycling in California.