Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has unveiled legislation to stop the dumping of treated water into the ocean. He also called for an examination of ways to reuse the water as part of efforts to better manage resources during California’s historic drought.
SB 163 requires agencies that dump treated water to create plans to beneficially reuse the water. It also sets a goal of reusing half of the discharged water within a decade of the agencies submitting their plans.
“California’s drought has forced us to rethink everything we do with water and consider how to be more intelligent in how we manage it,” Hertzberg said. “This legislation is a no-brainer. Let’s find a way to reuse treated water instead of dumping it into the ocean. We have to stop thinking of treated water as a waste product, it’s a valuable resource to be utilized.”
California discharges an estimated 1.5 billion gallons of treated water into the ocean every day. In Los Angeles County alone, 650 million gallons of treated water are dumped into the Pacific Ocean daily.
Waste water is water that has been used once. It flows from homes and businesses to water treatment centers, where it is purified to meet federal standards. Instead of wasting the water, it could be used for irrigation, recharging groundwater or other important purposes, Hertzberg said.
The bill is supported by the California Coastal Protection Network, California League of Conservation Voters, Heal the Bay, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club.
“Each day, wastewater treatment plants send hundreds of millions of gallons of highly treated water into the ocean. This inefficient practice is not good for ocean health, and it’s certainly not helping us combat drought,” said Sarah Sikich, vice president for Heal the Bay. “SB 163 will greatly increase the amount of water recycled throughout the state, and greatly benefit the Los Angeles region where we rely heavily on imported water.”
The bill requires wastewater permit holders to submit plans by 2023 to reuse treated wastewater to the maximum extent possible. At least 50 percent of waste water at all facilities would be required to be reused by 2033.
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