For many communities, recycled water solves many problems simultaneously. For example, it may solve a difficult pollution control problem or help restore a wetland or marsh. It may forestall a severe water shortage or provide drought protection. And, it may offset the need to purchase more water from an external supplier. In every case, a community needs to invest in water resources, whether from a local source or from imports. Water recycling allows the community's investment in water resources to go to work locally, creating jobs, benefiting the environment and stimulating the economy.
Are recycled water systems kept separate from drinking water system?
Yes. Standard practice requires separate pipes for drinking water and recycled water. Guidelines set by the Department of Health Services ensure that recycled water facilities are clearly distinguishable from other water facilities to avoid mixing of supplies. Pipes are made of purple material, and labeled with the words "Recycled Water - Do Not Drink."
How do I get more information about recycled water in Livermore?
Call the Water Resources Division at 960-8100.
How is recycled water treated?
Wastewater goes through primary, secondary and advanced tertiary treatment at the Livermore Water Reclamation Plant. During a primary treatment, large solids are removed. Secondary treatment uses bacteria to remove approximately 95-98 percent of the remaining solids and organic material. Tertiary treatment employs filtration to remove any remaining solids and uses a disinfectant (ultraviolet disinfection), to destroy bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. These processes duplicate nature's own purifying actions.
How is recycled water used?
California is a pioneer in the field of water recycling. Successful projects exist for practically any type of reuse imaginable. Landscape irrigation has been practiced for more than 50 years, and recreational uses and industrial recycling are also common. Agricultural irrigation, always an important reuse for forage crops, has expanded in recent years as a result of major studies demonstrating that tertiary treated water is safe for raw-eaten (uncooked) crops. There are many examples of recycled water being used to support and enhance aquatic habitat, fish, and wildlife.
Is recycled water use regulated by law?
Generally, state, environmental management and public health agencies regulate the production, conveyance and use of recycled water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local health agencies may also have a role in regulating recycled water use.
What is recycled water?
The California Water Code defines recycled water as "water which, as a result of treatment of waste, is suitable for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that would not otherwise occur." Water recycling allows water managers to match water quality to specific reuse applications. This reduces the amount of fresh water required for non-potable uses, ensuring that the best and purest sources of water will be reserved for the highest use - public drinking water.
What is the cost of recycled water?
Costs vary depending on the type of project being developed, the degree of treatment required, and the proximity of the water treatment plant to the location where the recycled water will be used. Many agencies have been resourceful in obtaining federal, state, and local grants and/or low-interest loans that help defray the cost of the recycled water and make it more competitive with other sources. However, the cost of producing recycled water is frequently a deterrent to developing a successful project. This is likely to change in the future because recycled water is becoming more competitive with the cost of other new water supplies.
What is the quality of recycled water?
The final use of the water dictates how much additional treatment is required over and above the baseline treatment required for discharge into a waterway. Recycled water that has the greatest potential for human contact must have the highest level of treatment and reliability. Treatment requirements are less intense for non-potable uses where human contact is less likely to occur.
Why is water recycling important?
Huge dams and intricate water delivery systems play an important role in sustaining the growing thirst for water around the world. However, many regions have been forced to reassess the long-term reliability of their major water supply systems. Between now and the year 2020, the world's population is expected to increase dramatically. Additionally, there is a growing recognition of the need to restore and preserve our aquatic ecosystems by allowing larger volumes of water to remain within the banks of streams flowing down from the mountains and all the way out to sea.