News Feature | February 16, 2016

DPR Becoming Palatable For California Public

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The prospect of introducing direct potable reuse in California is gaining momentum, fueled by the relentlessness of the state’s record drought.

“The idea of turning wastewater into drinking water is gaining momentum among government bodies in Southern California and across the nation, but regulators question how and when the concept will become palatable to the widespread public,” the Long Beach Press-Telegram recently reported.

Several counties are in the planning stage for direct potable reuse projects. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a massive water importer that serves Los Angeles, is talking to county sanitation districts about the possibility, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Michael Adelman, an environmental engineer with MWH Global in Pasadena, “said that planning is underway for a large plant in San Diego County to use recycled water either as a nearly direct feed or in a diffused form,” The San Bernardino Sun reported last month.

One trend benefiting these efforts: Recycled water in all forms is gaining greater acceptance. Water industry professionals have sung the praise of recycled water for years. And now the public may be catching on.

“Looking back decades from now, we may remember 2015 as the year recycled water became cool,” Matt Weiser of Water Deeply recently wrote in The Huffington Post. “Dozens of California water agencies in 2015 opened recycled water ‘fill stations,’ allowing customers to collect treated wastewater in jugs and tanks for free. It helped drought-weary residents maintain parched landscaping, and it also eased recycled water's ill-deserved ‘yuck factor.’”

He said the major legacy of the California drought may be that it introduced the public to the benefits of recycled water.

Dublin San Ramon Services District is one region offering fill stations to its customers. Residents can use the water to irrigate their yards. Educational efforts helped officials combat hesitations about recycled water.

“As for any ‘yuck factor’ from using sewer water, users say they aren't deterred because recycled water customers are all given brief instructions informing them that the state OKs the use of effluent for landscaping — but not for drinking,” the San Jose Mercury News reported.

For similar stories, visit Water Online’s Water Reuse Solutions Center.