The need for water conservation is more important than ever due to depletion and impairment of water resources and drought in Southern California. However, conservation alone is not enough to meet future water demands. To help increase the amount of available water, Suburban Water Systems began distributing recycled water for outdoor irrigation needs in 2013 for certain customers.
Replacing some of the high-use irrigation demand for potable water in places like parks and golf courses with recycled water will help meet California’s water conservation goals. Recycled water comes from Upper San Gabriel Valley MWD, Los Angeles County Sanitation District and the City of Industry and is treated at the San Jose Creek Water Reclamation Plant.
Frequently Asked Questions About Recycled Water
1. Does recycled water come through the same pipes as drinking water?
No. The pipes distributing recycled water are completely separate from those pipes that distribute potable drinking water. This means that water from a drinking faucet is served by a completely different system than recycled water.
2. Can you tell a recycled water pipe from a potable drinking water pipe?
Yes. Plumbers rely on color to distinguish pipes that serve different purposes. For example, the color purple is used to distinguish recycled water, so plumbers know the difference between recycled and potable drinking water pipes.
3. Why does Suburban Water Systems distribute recycled water?
Recycled water is an effective and sustainable aspect of our overall water supply system. It reduces the amount of potable drinking water used for irrigation and helps with water conservation.
4. Does recycled water harm landscaping?
No. Recycled water is permitted to be used for a wide range of applications, including landscape irrigation. As a responsible supplier of recycled water, we will provide only highly treated, filtered and disinfected water that meets all federal, state and local regulations.
5. What are the rules and regulations for recycled water use?
There are a variety of Federal, State and local laws and regulations governing the production and use of recycled water. All of the laws are designed to ensure that recycled water continues to be a cost effective aspect of the overall water supply. The laws set standards for the treatment of the recycled water. The rules also define how recycled water can be distributed, used and the required signage. The rules and regulation cover the protection of the potable drinking water system from the recycled water system, also known as Cross-Connection Control.
6. Do you post signage to notify the public that recycled water is being used?
Yes. Signage is posted at all points where recycled water is used. Recycled water is not approved to drink, so the signs inform the public that they should not drink this water.
7. Is recycled water permitted for use?
Yes. Recycled water is a sustainable source of water that is designed to protect public health and safety. As a responsible supplier of recycled water, we will provide only highly treated, filtered and disinfected water that meets all federal, state and local regulations.
Many studies have been conducted on recycled water. To date, no health-related problems have been traced to any of the water recycling projects currently operating in California.
8. Can people drink recycled water?
No. We design our recycled water systems in a way that reduces public access to the recycled water supply. Rest assured that no sinks, faucets or drinking fountains are attached to our recycled water system.
9. Does recycled water help water conservation?
Yes. The use of recycled water for non-potable needs such as irrigation lessens demand for potable water which reduces the amount of water being drawn from aquifers, the California aqueduct and other supply sources. Lessening the effects of drought and ensuring an adequate water supply are extremely important.
While conservation helps protect our water supply, it isn’t enough to offset future water demands. It will take a combination of alternatives – including both conservation and the use of recycled water – to meet future water supply needs.
10. Is recycled water available during a drought?
Yes. Recycled water is a reliable water supply source even during a drought. Generally speaking, there is no outdoor quantity use restrictions placed on recycled water use during a drought. Water utilities and municipalities typically place restrictions on using potable drinking water for outdoor irrigation during drought.
11. Where does the recycled water come from?
The Sanitation District of Los Angeles County collects wastewater from communities in the San Gabriel Valley and treats it at the San Jose Creek Water Reclamation Plant to strict state and federal water quality standards.
12. How do you recycle water?
Recycled water starts at a water reclamation plant. A recycled water plant uses processes similar to those found in nature. Recycling water occurs in three treatment stages called primary, secondary, and tertiary.
- In Primary Treatment, the water is held still so materials can settle to the bottom. Once the materials settle to the bottom they are removed.
- During Secondary Treatment, microbes eat organic material, settle to the bottom, and are removed.
- In the third stage, Tertiary Treatment, the water passes through a sand and coal filter to remove the leftover particles similar to the action of sand in the bottom of a river. In a final step, chlorine is added to the water for an additional level of disinfection.
13. What is recycled water used for in Suburban Water Systems’ service area?
Irrigation is the single largest use for recycled water within our service area. Some users include landfills, parks and recreational areas and greenbelts along roadways.
14. Does recycled water smell or look different than tap water?
Recycled water is colorless, and may have a slight chlorine smell. It is impossible to tell recycled water apart from tap water with a human eye. Recycled water does not contain any constituents that exceed federal and state drinking water standards and is safe for all permitted uses.
To ensure public safety, recycled water goes through a three-stage treatment process in which wastewater is processed, clarified, chemically treated, filtered and disinfected.
15. How will recycled water get to the ultimate users?
Suburban Water Systems operates a recycled water distribution system that is independent from the potable drinking water and sewer systems. Separate connections are made to users who wish to use recycled water. These connections use pipes that are the color purple to distinguish recycled water and are not used for potable drinking water delivery.
16. Where will Suburban Water Systems use recycled water?
- BKK Landfill, City of West Covina Sportsplex, and Big League Dreams
- South Hills Golf Course
- School landscaping
17. Can I have recycled water delivered to my house?
Not today. Recycled water operates on a separate system from potable drinking water. As a result, additional pipes need to be installed to deliver the recycled water. At this time, we can only provide recycled water to new developments and users with high irrigation needs, such as parks, golf courses and greenbelts. We are always analyzing the costs and benefits of supplying new customers with recycled water and will look to connect individual homeowners when it makes the most sense from a water supply perspective and can be done cost effectively and safely.