Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater Now Available

The Water Education Foundation (Foundation) has just announced the release of the Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater, funded by CWEA, Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, and CWEA’s Clean Water Summit Partners (CASA, SCAP, CVCWA, and BACWA).  The 28-page guide is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the history of wastewater treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and disposed of today. CWEA contributed to the development of the guide to help meet the need to have a credible, readable resource on wastewater. Though members of the Clean Water Summit Partners provided input, the Foundation exercised editorial control, as with all their layperson’s guides, and is responsible for the final content.

The 28-page guide is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the history of wastewater treatment and how wastewater is collected, conveyed, treated and disposed of today.

From the introduction:

With sanitation as vital today as in the past, the California wastewater community is at a crossroads.

Infrastructure designed and built a generation ago with funding from the federal government must be expanded, upgraded or rebuilt to provide the most reliable and efficient services possible. The large federal and state grants of past decades are generally not available today, so new sources of financing mechanisms must be found to pay for these large capital improvement projects with as little impact to ratepayers as possible.

Increasing population demands on current system capacities and maintaining and upgrading facilities to comply with current and future regulatory requirements, including emerging contaminants, are among the other issues facing the wastewater community. Climate change and extreme weather events are also concerns that may lead to the need for future projects.

This guide, part of an ongoing series by the Water Education Foundation, provides an overview of basic background information on California laws and regulations, wastewater collection and treatment processes, history, current challenges, and case studies. Related issues are discussed in the Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling.

Read the abridged edition

Copies of the full report can be purchased for $10 through the Water Education Foundation website under the Products link at or click The complete version includes additional sections:

  • Legal and Regulatory Primer
  • Collection and Conveyance
  • Treatment and Disposal
  • Current Challenges
  • Case Studies
  • The Future

The California Association of Sanitation Agencies, one of the Clean Water Summit Partners, will be distributing copies to state legislators, members of Congress and key regulatory agency leaders.  Please encourage your colleagues to get and use this new publication.  Possibilities include giving copies to members of the public who tour your plant, to your Board of Directors or City Council, and to new staff or those unfamiliar with the field.  We’d love to hear how you plan to use the publication; please let us know by posting a comment below.

Funding provided by:
Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District
Clean Water Summit Partners
– California Water Environment Association
– Bay Area Clean Water Agencies
– California Association of Sanitation Agencies
– Central Valley Clean Water Association
– Southern California Alliance of Publicly Owned Treatment Works

About the Author

CWEA Staff

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6 comments on “Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater Now Available

  1. Prior to getting into the Wastewater Industry, I wrote a book on the legal process of the Endangered Species Act. It was over 150 pages long (this pamphlet is 28 pages); I did not have any funding provided by any other organizations (you had seven funders covering the cost of producing this); I was an individual publishing and distributing this book (you are a well funded Foundation); and I was able to sell copies for $12 and make money. To supply this pamphlet to Board members, interested community members and local school officials is prohibative at $10 per copy. If you want to get this out to the public, you should be charging agencies $10 per 100 copies or provide them for free to small agencies.

    Karl Drexel, SDA
    Tomales Village Community Services District
    PO Box 303
    Tomales CA 94971

    1. Lola Dvorak says:

      You might want to contact the Water Education Foundation, who developed and published The Layperson’s Guide to California Wastewater, to let them know your concern about their pricing. We understand they do offer discounts for bulk purchases of 10 or more copies. You can reach the Water Education Foundation at 916-444-6240.

  2. Will web links be available so this can be posted on agency websites?

    1. Lola Dvorak says:

      The abridged version can be accessed here:

      The unabridged version is not available online, but can be purchased here:

  3. Abe P says:

    I would love to read about this subject but can not afford it. Will it be made aviable to Napa County Library? I agree with Karl advice above.

    1. Lola Dvorak says:

      Contact information for the Napa County Library can be found at

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