When California Governor Jerry Brown first declared a drought emergency at the beginning of the year, the California State Water Resources Control Board started drafting a new process so more household wastewater can be recycled for irrigation.
Scott Couch is with the water quality division at the State Water Board says recycled water is a valuable resource.
“It aids in conservation of potable water supplies,” Couch says.
The idea is that the more reclaimed water is used for landscaping and agriculture, the more potable water is available for drinking.
He says the new permit is a blueprint regional water managers can use to speed up approvals for reclaimed water – what is now an involved process.
The state has made $800 million available in loans for recycled water production.
Dan Newton with the Division of Financial Assistance says that money will essentially be used to create a new water resource.
"Typically that water ends up in a salt sink or the ocean, where it’s a waste. So it’s another opportunity to reuse the water, much like we do with recycled cans,” says Newton.
But water clean water advocates say the new permitting process would be permissive.
Jennifer Clary is with Clean Water Action.
“One question is, is this sufficiently protective against degradation by salt and nutrients," Clary says. "And honestly I just don’t know at this point.”
Clary says she would like to see specific monitoring requirements for salt and nitrate – a pollution problem particular to the Central Valley.
She would also like a process so local projects have individualized plans to prevent water degradation.
The state water board says the new rules would require producers to follow regional pollution control plans.
The public has until end of May to comment on the rules before they’re implemented.
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