What are the benefits of the recycled water that will be constructed?

Among the many benefits of a coordinated, well-planned approach to the use of recycled water are:

    • Reliable irrigation water for parks, golf courses, school grounds, other public landscaping, vineyards and other agricultural uses, as well as industrial applications.
    • Increased water for wetland habitat restoration and improved stream flows for riparian habitat and fisheries recovery, and groundwater supplies.
    • Less discharge of treated water into San Pablo Bay/San Francisco Bay and its tributaries.

Is recycled water safe for children playing in parks?

Recycled water is strictly regulated and approved for irrigation purposes by the state. In over 80 years of recycled water use in California, there have been no documented cases of any ill effects from proper use. Incidental contact with recycled water, such as walking on grass after it has been watered, is safe for adults, children and pets. 

Will recycled water from this project pollute rivers, creeks, streams, and local groundwater?

Regulatory requirements are designed to ensure that discharges from recycled water treatment facilities are safe for the environment and for a variety of uses.

Water recycling, is long past the experimental stage, is widely and safely used throughout the nation and around the world to irrigate crops as well as golf courses, parks, and school grounds.. Around the Bay Area, it is used for irrigation in Calistoga, St Helena, Yountville, Napa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor, San Rafael, Novato, San Francisco, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Daly City and other communities. These uses have been shown to be safe and to not cause adverse impacts to rivers, creeks, streams or groundwater.

Is the use of recycled water for crop irrigation safe?

In a study of recycled water use by the Napa Sanitation District for vineyard irrigation, carried out by the University of California, it was concluded that the water “is suitable for vineyard irrigation” and that “there were no salinity or toxicity issues that would limit the use of this water.” Another study by Monterey One Water concluded that “the use of filtered secondary municipal water for irrigation of food crops consumed unprocessed is safe.” Additionally, the study showed that marketability, quality and yield of recycled water-irrigated crops were comparable to crops grown with other sources of water. The recycled water produced by NBWRA members is cleaned to a tertiary level. Title 22 of California’s Water Recycling Criteria refers to California state guidelines for how treated and recycled water is discharged and used.

Will increasing the water supply with the use of recycled water in the region facilitate growth?

The purpose of the NBWRA recycled water program is to offset current water use with recycled water and provide a sustainable supply of water for urban and agricultural irrigation and the environment, even in times of drought. The NBWRA does not have any jurisdiction over land use decisions. The level of growth within the region is decided by land use planning processes by individual Cities and Counties. The recycled water program is proposed to offset the use of current supplies for urban and agricultural irrigation, assist in managing peak summer-time demands on potable supplies, and provide a sustainable “drought-proof” supply for the region.

How will a coordinated, regional development of recycled water projects save money?

Instead of pursuing individual recycled water projects, this coordinated, regional approach provides economies of scale for the planning, engineering and environmental studies therefore saving all member agencies money. It also maximizes the ability of the Authority partners to obtain local, state and federal funding assistance for their projects. The NBWRP has been developed specifically to meet the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI funding requirements, as well as requirements for State funding. By matching proposed water recycling projects to the requirements for government funding, the Authority is getting the biggest bang for its buck, thus making the development of vital recycled water projects affordable to local users.

What is the difference between drinking water and recycled water?

Recycled water is not used for drinking in these projects. Drinking water is distributed in a completely different set of pipes. Household use of water for drinking, personal hygiene and other uses are the smallest use of regional water supplies. More than half of all water in the region is used for outdoor irrigation, which is an ideal and safe use for recycled water.

Will the recycled water go to every home and business in those areas?

Generally, the recycled water will only be sent to specific locations where it is cost-effective to install special piping required for recycled water delivery, and where the irrigation customer wants it. Generally, recycled water is sent to large users like parks, golf courses and agriculture interests. In the Napa MST area, there is a program to provide it to individual homeowners in an area where the groundwater levels are falling.

What happens with treated water now?

Currently, most water undergoes extensive treatment and is sent unused into rivers and the Bay. It must meet strict governmental regulations on the treatment, timing and quality of the treated water that is released. By increasing treatment to recycled water quality, this high quality resource can be reused productively to the benefit of the regions diverse water users.

What are the long-term water supply challenges facing the North Bay region, particularly Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties?

Surface and groundwater sources are limited, and some local groundwater basins are already stressed, which has deteriorated water levels and quality. In addition, a clean, reliable water supply is needed to continue restoration of tidal wetlands around San Pablo Bay. The effects of our changing climate will further stress local water supplies. Development of recycled water would augment local water supplies and thus help the region to overcome these challenges.