Six years and one month ago in October 2017 the Director penned an article in SCGA’s hard copy magazine FORE entitled, “The Era of Recycled Water May be Drawing to a Close.” The kind of recycled water used for outdoor irrigation, that is – nonpotable reuse.
The reason: The effluent used to produce that traditional form of recycled water was going to soon be routinely used to create drinking water – a process known as potable reuse. In addition, more of that effluent was going to be used to recharge aquifers. Indeed, both processes had already begun by October 2017. Orange County had already pioneered a potable reuse facility in Fountain Valley, and Los Angeles Water & Power had already begun dedicating effluent to the recharging of the large aquifer sitting beneath the Northeastern San Fernando Valley.
Fast forward to Fall 2023, and the Southern California Metropolitan Water District is on track to open the largest potable reuse facility in 2032 in the heart of the LA Harbor area, and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has embarked upon the Rulemaking process necessary to amend Title 22 of the State Water Code to “adopt regulations governing the use of municipal wastewater to produce water that is used to augment a source of supply for a public water system’s drinking water treatment plant or placed into a public water system’s drinking water distribution system.” As SWRCB puts it in its “Initial Statement of Reasons” for the new Rules, the benefits include providing safe drinking water, a safe drinking water supply for Californians, a relatively reliable, drought-proof, and sustainable option for drinking water, and an additional means for increased beneficial use of recycled water.
The effluent to provide golf’s recycled water is going to be increasingly dedicated to potable reuse, making the admonition we issued in that 2017 FORE story more relevant than ever:
Now would be the time to consider the upshot of all of this — not just for those golf courses that had hoped to gain recycled access at some future time, but for those golf courses whose recycled contracts will be coming up for renewal. It behooves the former class of golf courses to begin contemplating what comes next in an environment sure to become increasingly hostile to “watering golf courses with drinking water.” It behooves the latter class to approach their water suppliers with entreaties to extend extant contracts before they come due.
And it behooves all of us to pay closer heed to those who preach the need to think in blocks of time longer than the next quarter.
Those with enormous appetites for detail can read the SWRCB’s entire “Initial Statement of Reasons” by clicking here. The only update to that October 2017 FORE story we would issue today would be to change the title ever so slightly to “The Era of Recycled Water is Fast Closing.”
There are still opportunities to secure access, but they won’t be there for long, and not just due to the expansion of direct potable reuse, but due also to the competition for limited resources posed by the myriad other ways of expanding local supplies such as stormwater capture, aquifer recharge, and desalination.
For those of you who want to see just how prescient that October 2017 FORE was, you can click here to read an archived version of it on the SCGA website
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FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.Read More →
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