Heal the Ocean Releases Publications on Increasing California’s Water Supply

(July 9, 2015)

Heal the Ocean Releases Publications on Increasing California’s Water Supply

SANTA BARBARA - Potable Reuse: A New Water Resource for California is a new research paper by Heal the Ocean that characterizes the safety and value of advanced treatment technologies for converting wastewater into purified water. It is being released today together with the Infographic, Waste(d)water: The Potential for Recycled Water in the Santa Barbara Region.

James Hawkins, Heal the Ocean Policy Analyst and author of both documents, conducted an extensive review of the literature on potable reuse and worked with wastewater and water managers to collect data from permits and annual reports to give an accurate characterization of wastewater flows and water demand in the Santa Barbara region.

With such a pressing need for additional water in California,” Hawkins says, “there is no reason for waiting to invest in indirect potable reuse. All Californians should be encouraging their city, water and/or wastewater districts to work together to get these projects off the ground.”

Recycled water through non-potable reuse, or “purple pipe,” projects has been used in California for decades; however, the significant cost of installing separate purple pipe distribution systems to deliver tertiary-treated recycled water limits its expanded use.

Potable reuse projects, specifically “indirect potable reuse,” involve the injection of highly treated, purified water into groundwater, where it is retained for a minimum of two months before being pumped to and treated at a municipal drinking water treatment plant.

This type of project is being considered in all areas of the state, with Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System leading the way in demonstrating how these projects can safely meet water supply needs at an affordable cost.

The Infographic presents wastewater/water data from 2014 for the Santa Barbara region and illustrates the significant potential for recycled water to meet water demand along the Santa Barbara coastline, from Carpinteria to Goleta.

Expanding indirect potable reuse projects in the Santa Barbara region and across the state would produce significant supplies of water that could help combat future droughts in a way that is more environmentally sustainable and less costly than other water supply options, Hawkins states. The City of Santa Barbara alone discharges more than 6.5 million gallons a day of wastewater into the ocean, when much of this supply could be reclaimed to provide 60% of the City’s total water needs.

HTO Executive Director Hillary Hauser has been working with water and wastewater districts from Goleta to Solvang, to line up Facilities Planning Grants for treatment plant upgrade, to position the districts in line with 2014 “Proposition 1” funding for building recycled water plants. Hauser says that with $625 million available for recycled water projects, “there has never been a better time to initiate indirect potable reuse projects.”

Heal the Ocean is a Santa Barbara based citizens’ action group that focuses on improvement to wastewater systems (including septic systems) as a means of improving ocean water quality. The organization’s Waste(d)water Campaign is aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating marine discharges of wastewater to the environment.

For more information, please contact James Hawkins at (805) 965-7570 or

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