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California becomes the first US state to embrace direct potable wastewater recycling!

California water officials plan to begin regulating direct potable wastewater recycling, becoming the first state to embrace it as a new drinking water supply.

IT IS NOW possible to imagine a future in which highly treated wastewater will be plumbed directly into California homes as a new drinking water supply.

On September 8, the State Water Resources Control Board released a long-awaited report on the feasibility of so-called “direct potable reuse.” This means recycling urban sewage flows in a process akin to seawater desalination, then plumbing it directly into a city’s freshwater distribution lines without first storing it in a groundwater aquifer or reservoir (known as indirect potable reuse).

The water board relied, in part, on a 12-member panel of experts from around the world that studied the science and challenges of direct potable reuse for two years. And it concurred with the panel that it is possible to regulate direct potable reuse in a manner that produces safe and reliable drinking water from recycled sewage.

Next comes the process to actually develop those regulations, which the board intends to begin soon. Officials can’t estimate when those regulations will be complete. But there are a number of California water agencies waiting for that to happen so they can begin offering water produced in this way.

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