Nov 29, 2007

Californians Consider Using Recycled Water

State officials report there’s potential to nearly quadruple the amount of recycled water by the year 2030

Officials across California are searching for ways to reuse wastewater so that the cleanest water will be left for the tap.

According to, based in Stockton, Calif., “About 500,000 acre-ft of wastewater is recycled each year in California, enough to flood more than half of San Joaquin County one foot deep.”

But there’s potential to nearly quadruple the amount of recycled water by the year 2030, state officials report. That could ease water shortages and relieve pressure on the Delta, from which 25 million Californians get at least some of their water.

The recycled wastewater is treated before being used—primarily for watering purposes—and is nearly at the level of drinking water, according to Cary Keaton, Lathrop, Calif.’s director of public works.

Even so, California officials are hoping to increase standards on the recycled water to ensure that it is safe to use. The concern from conservation groups, such as the California Coastkeeper Alliance, is that harmful chemicals in the water such as salt, metals, pesticides and pharmaceuticals will harm their users.

A number of towns across the state feel that the official implementation of recycled water rules will not affect them too much because they already use, or are planning to use, the water to irrigate cattle crops, parks, school grounds and golf courses, as well as to release into the San Joaquin River.

Stockton, Calif., is also requiring all new developments to include in their plans pipes that can carry and use non-drinking water for landscaping purposes.

“Recycling water is a great thing,” Mark Madison, Stockton’s director of municipal utilities told Recordnet. “There will for a long time still be customer perceptions (about using treated wastewater) that will have to be overcome.”