Diverse and Innovative Uses Make for a Unique and Flexible Approach
What is Recycled Water?
Recycled water is wastewater that has gone through multiple levels of disinfection and treatment to remove pollutants, solids, and eliminate pathogens. This high quality recycled water contains essential nutrients that are safe for the irrigation of crops that are eaten raw, vineyards, playgrounds, golf courses, parks, cemeteries, freeway embankments, and street medians. Read more about the nutrients found in recycled water.
Recycled water is also frequently used in industrial processes, decorative fountains, fire suppression systems and much more. This water comes from sewage which is created when we use indoor drains; showers, toilets, sinks, dishwasher and washing machines.
Recycled Water is Safe
The recycled water in Santa Rosa is treated to California State Water Board Division of Drinking Water standards and is monitored by state, local and federal agencies. The result is clean and safe water that can be used for irrigation, industry and agriculture (but not for drinking).
For more information about the Division of Drinking Water's Recycled Water Statues and Regulations, click here.
Recycled Water Safety & COVID-19
Studies in the past have shown that wastewater treatment processes deactivate viruses, so they don’t end up in recycled water. Recently, sanitation experts determined that existing treatment plant processes successfully disinfect wastewater containing the COVID-19 virus. In fact, the US EPA has determined that standard treatment and disinfection processes are particularly effective against COVID 19.
In Santa Rosa, wastewater goes through four stringent treatment and disinfection steps. This results in high quality recycled water that is safe for irrigation of landscapes, pasture, agricultural crops, vegetable crops that are eaten raw, industrial processes, and many more non-drinking purposes.
Santa Rosa is committed to maintaining high quality recycled water for our customers. To make sure that our recycled water meets or exceeds all federal and state regulations, staff regularly tests and monitors recycled water and reports to regulators, to ensure it is safe for public health and the environment.
The California State Water Resources Control Board has issued a Fact Sheet with more information about recycled water and COVID-19.
Where is it Used?
Santa Rosa has been using recycled water for over 40 years. In one of the largest recycled water systems in the world, about 98% of the City’s tertiary-treated recycled water is used to irrigate approximately 6,400 acres of agricultural lands and public and private urban landscaping, and for the Geysers Recharge Project to generate electricity.
Geysers Recharge Project
In November 2003, in a novel approach to water reuse, the Geysers Recharge Project began pumping 11 million gallons per day of recycled water from the Laguna Treatment Plant to The Geysers steamfields, high in the Mayacmas Mountains. In January 2008, the current delivery is up to 12.62 MGD and helps generate enough electricity for 100,000 households in Sonoma and other North Bay counties.
The City of Santa Rosa developed the Geysers Recharge Project, which has been recognized and lauded worldwide, as a weather-independent component of their reuse system. Other reuse components include agriculture and urban irrigation, and river discharge in winter months when irrigation opportunities are minimal and water levels are high.
The Geysers Recharge Project consists of a 40-mile pipeline, four pump stations, and a terminal tank located high in the Mayacmas Mountains.
More and more communities throughout the United States and the world are turning to the use of recycled water for non-potable (non-drinking) purposes. It is a water resource that is growing in popularity as it gains recognition as a sustainable way to preserve precious, and scarce, drinkable water for higher purposes.
In recent years, the City has used approximately 140 acre feet per year of recycled water for landscape irrigation within the service area. In Santa Rosa, recycled water is used for landscape irrigation at 26 Urban Reuse sites, including Finley Park and A Place to Play Park. Urban reuse has been a high priority for the City because of its dual benefits:
1) decreasing the demand on potable water supplies and 2) providing an environmentally friendly method of application for tertiary wastewater generated at the Subregional Laguna Treatment Plant.
For more information about our Recycled Water Users, click here.
Future of Recycled Water in Santa Rosa
Due in part to the City's success in reducing drinking water demands and the water conservation practices, the City has determined that it is not cost effective to expand the recycled water distribution system. However, the City continues to evaluate other potentially more cost-effective water supply sources for future water supply needs.