QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY
From time to time we get questions from the community. This page will be used to showcase some of the ones we think you will find of interest. Do you have a question you'd like to ask? Email us here.
We live in a fairly new development (Waterton). Much of the public landscaping uses reclaimed water so there is a nearby source of reclaimed water. Is it feasible to change the private landscape watering over to reclaimed?
There are several reasons why individual homeowners are not connected to the recycled water system for use in their yards.
First, the State’s rules for using reclaimed water are very complex and antiquated – many were written years ago before the current drought and they both directly and indirectly discourage using recycled water at private residences. The State of California requires the City and each recycled water customer to track usage and file reports about how much recycled water they use and for what purpose, with strict guidelines about what the water is used for (no running into the gutters, for example). In addition, each location where recycled water is used is required to have a “site supervisor” to certify that all of the rules are being followed. In the case of City parks that use reclaimed water, specially trained City staff complete the required reports for the State. In the case of commercial and industrial customers, they typically have staff available that can be trained as site supervisors and certify the necessary reports. In apartment buildings, the property manager is trained and can complete the necessary reports. However, in the case of recycled water for residential landscaping, each homeowner would also have to designate a site supervisor, obtain training, complete the reports, submit them to the City, and the City would compile them and report to the State, certifying that all state requirements were met. It is an extremely cumbersome process that is not practical for typical homeowners. As more practical alternative, the City distributes reclaimed water (for free) at the Corporation Yard (205 Wetlands Edge Rd.) Here, City officials provide a short training and act as the Site Supervisor. The City also files all of the paperwork.
Second, the underground distribution system is installed in most major streets in town, but it does not extend into our neighborhood streets. The majority of our neighborhoods were constructed before the recycled water distribution system was completed and there are no underground pipes to bring this water to homes. For example, a recycled water main line runs along Wetlands Edge Road and a portion of Eucalyptus, but it does not extend into any of the neighborhood streets in the Preserve, etc. Recycled water distribution lines also run along Silver Oak Trail and Via Bellagio. We have constructed minor extensions as necessary to connect the parks, but the distribution lines do not extend into the neighborhood streets of Vintage Ranch or Via Bellagio. Recycled water distributions lines are also installed along Green Island Road.
Finally, if you happen to live on Wetlands Edge or Via Bellagio (or other streets) and have recycled water available in your street, connection could be expensive. Currently, you have one water meter that measures one type of water: potable. The plumbing system in your house and yard all receive water through that single meter. Each resident that connects to the recycled water system would need to separate their irrigation system entirely from their potable water system, install a water service line from the main line to your property line, and install a separate meter for the recycled water. You could use the water for watering your lawn, but not for filling your little plastic pool or the dog water bowl! All of this work so that you can irrigate your yard and save 15-20 units a month, saving just a few dollars. It is not very cost effective.
We completely agree that it would be great if residents could connect to the recycled water system. However, until State regulations are modernized to reflect new technology that allows us to produce recycled water that is very high quality and safe, and reflect societies’ acceptance of reclaimed water for many non-potable uses, there is little incentive for the City or the homeowner to invest in the considerable cost necessary to construct the infrastructure. Instead, the City is focusing on completing the park conversions and connecting industrial users to recycled water. Converting these uses is much more cost effective, as these property owners have staff available to abide by State mandates and they consume large volumes of water, resulting in a significant savings in potable water when the conversion is complete.
Someday, State policies will change making it easier for homeowners to use recycled water. In the meantime, reduce your demand for potable water by getting rid of that thirsty lawn (go HERE for more info) and head to the Corporation Yard on Wetlands Edge and get your free recycled water! (hyperlink to website page with info).
Jason Holley, P.E., Public Works Director