Department of Water Resources Home

About Recycling

INTRODUCTION

Also known as reclamation or reuse, water recycling is an umbrella term encompassing the process of treating wastewater and storing, distributing, and using recycled water. According to (Water Code § 13050), “’Recycled water’ means water which, as a result of treatment of waste, is suitable for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that would not otherwise occur and is therefore considered a valuable resource.” Water can be recycled or reused on farms, within industrial complexes, and at home. However, municipal recycled water is what most people refer to as recycled water.

Municipal recycled water originates at a municipal wastewater treatment plant and is sewer water that has been collected, treated, and reused so that it can be beneficially reused again. Figure 1 shows some of the ways we can reuse municipal recycled water.

Figure 1
Municipal Recycled Water Cycle showing the collection, treatment, and use of municipal recycled water.

MUNICIPAL WATER RECYCLING IN CALIFORNIA

Municipal recycled water has been safely and beneficially reused in California for more than 100 years. Since 1970, California has periodically quantified how much beneficial reuse is occurring in the state. Figure 2 shows how statewide use has increased since 1970, by the nine regions governed by the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

Figure 2
Municipal recycled water use in California since 1970, by Regional Water Quality Control Board

The two most recent surveys - for the 2009 and 2015 calendar years – were conducted jointly by the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

Additional information on the 2015 survey will be released on this website as it becomes available.

Water Recycling and Desalination Staff Contact Information: Follow this link to contact appropriate staff...http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/Contacts/