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Frequently Asked Querstions

Where Is Recycled Water Being Used?

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Where is recycled water used in the City of San Diego?

In San Diego, some of the largest customers are Torrey Pines Golf Course, UCSD, City Parks and Recreation and several well-known businesses. Uses include landscape irrigation and water for air conditioning cooling towers on commercial buildings.

What are the economic benefits of using recycled water?

As the costs of imported water continue to rise, producing a local supply of water by recycling wastewater is an economic benefit. Landscape damage during a drought can be costly and diminishes the aesthetic quality of the San Diego region. This can be offset by the use of recycled water, which is unrestricted during a drought. Recycled water customers benefit economically as the price of recycled water is substantially less than potable water. Currently, the recycled water rate is 46 percent of the potable rate (July 2004).

Is recycled water being used in other places in San Diego County?

There are many agencies in San Diego County currently producing and distributing recycled water to customers. Uses vary from landscape irrigation at schools, apartment complexes and parks, decorative ponds and fountains, recreational lakes, dust control, manufacturing concrete blocks and washing governmental vehicles.

Local producers and distributors of recycled water include the City of Carlsbad, City of Escondido, the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and the Vallecitos Water District. The Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, has used recycled water to fill artificial lakes and irrigate the Preserve's landscaping in Santee since the early 1960's.

For a list of all recycling projects in San Diego County, see the San Diego County Water Authority's website at www.sdcwa.org and click on Water Management/Recycling/Recycled Water Facilities.

Where else is recycled water used in California and the United States?

In southern California, the Irvine Ranch Water District has distributed recycled water for over thirty years. Recycled water is used in high-rise office buildings for toilet and urinal flushing. In Los Angeles and Orange counties, recycled water is injected into groundwater storage basins to prevent saltwater intrusion into the basins near the coastline. Additionally, in Orange County, recycled water that has undergone additional advanced treatment is added to groundwater supplies that are used as a source of drinking water.

Recycled water is used in many ways and in many states across the country. In Arizona, Texas, Virginia and Florida, recycled water is added and blended with water sources in reservoirs and underground storage basins that are used as drinking water supplies.

For more information on water recycling projects, see the WaterReuse Association in Links and Resources.

Are there any public health risks associated with blending recycled water into groundwater storage basins or surface water storage reservoirs?

Recycled water that has undergone advanced treatment is not placed directly into a drinking water supply. When recycled water is injected into a groundwater storage basin or put in a surface water reservoir, it is blended with water already in those locations. After a specified period of time, the recycled water is treated in a conventional drinking water treatment plant along with the other stored water. This process is called "indirect potable reuse" and is occurring in other parts of the United States. Indirect potable reuse has been carefully studied, and to date, no health risks have been detected.

The Water Reuse Study and the American Assembly process will address public health risks issues in an open forum. An Independent Advisory Panel of leaders in the areas of epidemiology, toxicology, medicine, education and economics will review the health, scientific and technological components of the study.

* Photo at top is landscaping at a business located in Sorrento Valley (City irrigation customer).