Wastewater could soon be recycled for drinking water in California

California could go down the path of Colorado and begin recycling wastewater for the purposes of drinking.

California regulators are set to vote on new rules that would allow water agencies to recycle wastewater and use it as drinking water.

The move comes as California aims to address its ongoing struggle to have a reliable source of drinking water for its nearly 40 million residents. 


Driving the news: While California has been using recycled wastewater for various purposes such as irrigation, making ice, and snow, it has not been used directly for drinking water.

  • Orange County operates a large water purification system that recycles wastewater and uses it to refill underground aquifers.
  • California’s new rules, if approved, would make it the second state after Colorado to allow treated wastewater to be directly used for drinking water.
  • The treated wastewater would undergo stringent treatment processes to remove pathogens and viruses.
  • Building the necessary treatment facilities would be expensive and time-consuming, making it initially accessible to bigger, well-funded cities. 
  • Public support will be crucial for the success of these projects, and water agencies will be required to inform customers about the use of recycled water for drinking purposes.
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