Recycled water, also called reclaimed water, is wastewater that has been treated so that it can be used beneficially again for a variety of purposes, including agriculture and landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, certain industrial processes, and groundwater recharge. As compared to some other alternative water supplies, recycled water has the major benefit of being a drought-proof supply since wastewater as a supply source is not subject to the weather-based fluctuations impacting local and imported water supplies. Even though Southern California is recognized as a leader in water recycling, there is significantly more wastewater produced that could potentially be recycled.
Recycled Water is treated to varying levels depending on its intended use:
Most of the recycled water used in this region is treated to a disinfected tertiary level, also known as Title 22 standards, which refer to Title 22, Chapter 3 (Water Recycling Criteria), Division 4 of the California Code of regulations.
Tertiary treated recycled water can be used for irrigating parks and playgrounds and for other non-potable uses such as toilet flushing. Based on customer needs, recycled water can be tailored to fit specific commercial and industrial non-potable applications. Both of these require a distribution system (pipelines, pump stations, etc.) and storage facilities for the recycled water completely separated from the potable water system.
Advanced treated recycled water is treated to an even higher level, removing salt and other undesirable constituents and is currently used for industrial applications, seawater intrusion barriers, and groundwater recharge.
Advanced treated recycled water can be percolated into groundwater aquifers or surface reservoirs and blended with potable water. This blended water can later be pumped out and used as potable water or to maintain seawater barriers. This blending is often referred to as "indirect potable reuse". Enhancements in treatment processes can now purify recycled water to drinking water quality levels for "direct potable reuse". While not yet permitted for drinking water, water agencies are working with regulatory boards to develop regulatory standards and promote greater acceptance of advanced treated supplies.
Metropolitan provides financial assistance to produce recycled water through its Local Resources Program, which began in 1982.
Learn about the new Regional Recycled Water Program.