Water that once coursed through city sewers may soon find new life coming out of your home faucet.
New regulations approved Tuesday by the California State Water Resources Control Board allow treated recycled water to be added to reservoirs, the source of California municipal drinking water.
The regulations specify the percentage of recycled water that can be added and how long it must reside there before being treated again at a surface water treatment facility and provided as drinking water, according to the Water Board.
“This is a type of indirect potable use — it’s not treated recycle water that goes directly to someone’s house,” said Miryam Barajas at the Water Board. “It’s highly treated.”
Barajas said San Diego is leading the state in infrastructure to begin carrying out a sewer-to-reservoir operation but the rest of the state will likely follow.
California has 36 main reservoirs and Barajas said the decision could potentially affect all of them but it is unclear how long that could take.
“The regulations are now there but the infrastructure is not,” she said.
The decision was the culmination of a two-year public review process, which included an independent scientific review and guidance by an expert panel that determined the regulations adequately protect public health. It was also the latest effort to develop uniform rules allowing for more use of recycled water to supplement existing drinking water supplies.
The State Water Board is also working on regulations for “direct potable reuse,” in which treated recycled water is added directly into a drinking water system or into a raw water supply immediately upstream of a water treatment plant. These rules are expected by 2023.
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