The Water (Re)cycle

Here’s a water truth that likely doesn’t swim across your mind too often: The water we use for all our daily needs and activities is the water that has always been on our planet. From rain, rivers, oceans, lakes, springs and aquifers – the water that Earth has given us is the water we will always have.  

Water resource planners, engineers and specialists have tapped into innovative strategies to keep our water supply flowing strong and steady. For decades, water agencies have been treating and recycling used water which plays a crucial role in making the most of the water we have available. For states like California that are prone to droughts and a population reflecting increasing demands on available water supply, this is an essential and sustainable approach to meet the demand for water.  

Recycling water for reuse is drought resistant, ecofriendly and sustainable. It allows Southern California water agencies to be less dependent on often more costly water sources such as imported water. It also supports local water infrastructure by helping to offset capacity issues.  

When water is used and rinsed down drains, showers, tubs and toilets it becomes wastewater. In short, wastewater is used water that contains waste. The wastewater drains through underground pipes and sewers, collected by wastewater agencies and delivered to a water recycling facility for treatment.  

By separating solid materials from the wastewater, settling of particulates, filtration and treatment processes, the wastewater is cleaned and ready for non-potable reuse. The cleaned, treated and recycled water is regularly tested to ensure it meets and exceeds state and federal standards.  

Recycled water is non-potable meaning it is not intended for human use. We do not ingest, drink or clean with recycled water. However, recycled water takes on a variety of other roles in our lives. 

Where is recycled water used? 

  • Outdoor landscape irrigation at public parks, schools, roadway landscapes, golf courses and cemeteries  
  • Agricultural use to water crops and plants  
  • Industrial uses at manufacturing plants  
  • Air conditioning units 
  • Car washes 
  • Street cleaning  
  • Decorative fountains  

Where is recycled water NOT directly used? 

  • Drinking water 
  • Showers and baths  
  • Cooking  
  • Residential toilets  
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