When you wash the dishes or flush the toilet, you may think you’ll never see that water again.
In more Inland communities, the chances are good that you will.
Water officials across the region are building or expanding systems to recycle waste water, spurred by California’s four-year drought and using money from a state water bond that voters approved in November.
Riverside, Beaumont and Jurupa Valley are among those planning systems to carry treated waste water from sewer plants to special pipelines that take it to farms, schools and parks. In some cases, the recycled water would go to storage facilities or ponds where it filters back into underground aquifers.
Other agencies already deliver recycled water. Some, such as the Eastern Municipal Water District, are expanding pipelines to use even more.
The treated waste water is never used for, or mixed with, drinking water.
“There’s really been an explosion in interest in recycled water,” said Jennifer West, managing director of WateReuse California, the state arm of a national recycled water advocacy group.
Agencies can easily make use of it and doing so is “good for the environment,” she said.
Some of the new Inland projects were talked about long before 2015, and even before the drought. Bureaucratic red tape, lack of money and changes in plans set back projects now moving forward.
Recycled water can pose challenges – for instance, it can be too salty – but those who use it say it’s been a great success.
Bruce Scott, of Scott Brothers Dairy near San Jacinto, switched seven years ago to recycled water for crops that feed his cows.
“We’re thankful as all get out,” Scott said. “We now have what we call a drought-proof source of water, because people basically still flush during a drought.”
GETTING IN THE GAME
Riverside Public Utilities officials’ plans include a pump station and pipelines to move recycled water from its waste water plant to customers. Someday, Riverside hopes to funnel it to new basins where it would filter into the ground.
Likely customers are city parks, elementary schools and California Baptist University, which have large properties and grass used for sports and recreation, Riverside Public Utilities Deputy General Manager Kevin Milligan said. Newer parks such as Arlington Heights Sports Park are equipped to use recycled water as soon as there are pipes to get it there.