Directly drinking treated wastewater could be in Californians’ future


california-deltaFor the first time, California regulators have warmed to the idea of directly serving up treated sewer water to residents, underscoring the difficulty officials have had in uniting around alternative means of setting the state’s water policy on stable foundations.

Direct use

“A new report released by the State Water Resources Control Board last week outlines what needs to happen before drinking treated wastewater, also known as ‘direct potable reuse,’ becomes a reality,” Southern California Public Radio reported. In sum, a battery of new regulations, focused on ensuring that filtration processes meet a number of rigorous criteria, would be required — a goal the board opted not to suggest a timeline for.

“But in Southern California, many of us already are drinking treated wastewater — at least, indirectly,” the station added. “Places like Orange County, the Chino Basin and coastal Los Angeles have been blending treated wastewater with groundwater for years. But the difference is, the treated sewer water has been sitting in a reservoir or underground aquifer before it gets delivered to our tap. That means the water is diluted, and it also gives water managers time to wait for lab results from the wastewater treatment plant, and make last minute changes if something goes awry.” 

Fish or foul

At the same time as it has warmed up to sewer water, however, the board has unsettled the water debate still further by pushing for more aquatic protections for fish. According to its new plans, “the amount of water in the San Joaquin River and its major tributaries that would remain available for fish during certain times of the year would more than double to a suggested starting point of 40 percent of the river water from nearly 20 percent,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Right now, around 80 percent of the river water is diverted for use by farms and cities,” the paper noted. “The diversions have helped sustain some communities through the state’s five-year drought, but have left fish vulnerable. Officials of the regulatory agency said the increases were needed to help restore endangered salmon and steelhead, populations of which have plummeted. Some tributaries fall to as low as a trickle in places.”

The eyebrow-raising news deepened rifts with farmers and others desperate to return as close to pre-drought levels of use as possible. Merced County supervisor Deidre Kelsey, describing herself as “kind of aghast,” told BuzzFeed News the plan was “so preposterous” that it “can’t work. Unless everybody picks and moves out of the valley.”

Tunnel trouble

The fish issue has not created the only impasse in California’s long-term plans for protecting and managing its water resources. In a disappointment for supporters of an ambitious plan to send Delta water underground toward Southern California consumers, a financially discouraging report requested by Sacramento recently came to light. “Giant tunnels that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to build to haul water across California are economically feasible only if the federal government bears a third of the nearly $16 billion cost because local water districts may not benefit as expected,” the Associated Press reported, citing the unreleased analysis, which was commissioned last year.

“Further, no local water districts have agreed to pay their slated share for the tunnels because of uncertainty over regulatory approval and whether it would be worth the expense for them. Spending on the project has become the subject of an ongoing state audit and federal financial review. With districts balking, the state for the first time is dipping into public funds — fees paid by users of existing state water projects — to get the project through the planning phase, state spokeswoman Nancy Vogel told The Associated Press last month.”


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  1. Dude
    Dude 19 September, 2016, 14:51

    Get rid of all foreigners that are here illegally and there will be more than enough clean water for American Californians. After all, our government is supposed to be working for American citizens, right?

    Reply this comment
  2. michael
    michael 19 September, 2016, 15:19

    I have a better idea. Stop growing almonds and let the idiots in Sacramento drink sewage.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 19 September, 2016, 15:58


    Live on the top of the hill and ya water is fresh!

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 19 September, 2016, 16:50

    We need to look into desalinization of the ocean and screw those idiots from GREENPEACE

    Reply this comment
  5. Mike
    Mike 19 September, 2016, 19:21

    Michael, Lara brags that he swallows large amounts of effluent and he eats nuts too.

    Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 19 September, 2016, 23:13

    Mike. Consitering that most liberals are nuts its just they have fallen from the tree yet

    Reply this comment
  7. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 20 September, 2016, 12:51

    I agree about the insanity of allowing people to come here illegally, especially when we are in a drought of unknown duration.

    Also, have you all noticed how local officials are just chomping at the bit to promote more residential development in places where the drought has hit the hardest? All they are thinking about is the new tax revenue that will be generated by development and new taxpayers spending money in the jurisdiction.

    Regarding the water issue, I don’t think there is a technology in the world good enough to treat sewer water in a way that makes it safe enough for me to drink.

    Treated sewer water can be used for other things, but even for washing, you can’t get anything cleaner than the water you rinse it with. And, if it smells like a sewer when it comes out of your tap, well, then there you are.

    Also, fracking is not a sensible way to get clean water. The destruction it causes the land we live on cannot be repaired in our lifetime and the undesirable consequences are already being felt where it is being done. The inventors of this process have apparently not thought through what happens when they run out of terra firma to tear up.

    God didn’t give us a beautiful world so we could make a mess of it.

    I suggest if people live where they have to drink sewer water, get a filter and boil the filtered water before using it for drinking and cooking and brushing your teeth.

    Reply this comment
  8. losbanos1
    losbanos1 20 September, 2016, 18:22

    LOOK UP !!!!!! Want to really know why we are in a drought ? Want to know who it is doing it ? Go to and read read read and watch the videos . People need to wake .

    Reply this comment
  9. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 21 September, 2016, 07:43

    History says you can’t have what you don’t keep. Reservoirs. Holding tanks per say. 30 across the North and East part of the state. Tie it into the Aqueduct. This is the easiest and cheapest way to collect water.

    Next. Does anyone know how long it takes to build a pipe line? Figure we would need to tap Oregon sources and make this a long term answer to any population growth issues that have already gone unattended since 1980.

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 22 September, 2016, 14:17

      Hey Bill-California will NEVER ‘tap into Oregon sources’ ok? Beautiful Oregon is already overrun with Californians fleeing your hellish state, we graciously agree to be a pressure-relief valve for your zombie-liberal mismanagement and hypocritical greed. But HANDS OFF OREGON’S WATER!! I’m starting to think Oregon NEEDS A WALL…..

      Reply this comment
  10. Dude
    Dude 22 September, 2016, 20:17

    Enforcing existing federal and state immigration law is moronic? Only in the twisted minds of libtards.

    Reply this comment
  11. New World Odor Stooge
    New World Odor Stooge 23 September, 2016, 07:12

    How dare you!

    Don’t you know KIllary Clinton loves you and everything she does is for da childern???

    And besides, it’s her turn! You get eight years of her then 8 years of Jebbie! Then 8 years of Chelsea.

    So shut yer yap, vote for Hill and pay yer taxes!

    And remember, yer rulers love you, especially George Sorrows who wants to send a bunch of new friends for you to your country!

    Reply this comment
  12. New World Odor Stooge
    New World Odor Stooge 23 September, 2016, 07:14

    “Directly drinking treated wastewater could be in Californians’ future.”

    Now the peeons will get to drink Jerry’s pee!

    Reply this comment

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