BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                SB 918

                        Senator S. Joseph Simitian, Chairman
                              2009-2010 Regular Session
           BILL NO:    SB 918
           AUTHOR:     Pavley
           AMENDED:    April 12, 2010
           FISCAL:     Yes                                  HEARING  
           DATE:April 19, 2010
           URGENCY:    No                                  CONSULTANT:     
               Rachel Machi                                Wagoner

            SUMMARY  :    
            Existing federal law  :  
           1)Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), sets public health  
             regulatory standards for drinking water.

           2)Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), regulates discharge of  
             pollutants into the waters of the United States and sets  
             quality standards for surface waters.

            Existing California law  :  
           1)Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to enforce  
             laws and regulations related to drinking water safety.

           2)Requires the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and  
             the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCBs) to  
             enforce water quality laws and regulations for the state's  

           3)Requires the assessment of penalties for violations of water  
             quality laws and requires the funds generated by these civil  
             penalties to be deposited into the Waste Discharge Permit  
             Fund, to be expended by SWRCB upon appropriation by the  
             Legislature for the purpose of pollution abatement in the  
             state's waters.

           4)Establishes the Water Recycling Act of 1991, creating a  


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             statewide goal to recycle a total of 700,000 acre-feet of  
             water per year by 2000 and 1,000,000 acre-feet of water per  
             year by 2010.  Requires each urban water supplier to  
             prepare, and update every five years, an urban water  
             management plan with specified components, including  
             information on recycled water and its potential for use as a  
             water source in the service area of the urban water  

           5)Requires DPH to establish uniform statewide recycling  
             criteria for each type of use of recycled water use.

            This bill  :

           1) Makes various findings a declarations regarding the use and  
              benefits of recycled water.

           2) Defines "direct potable reuse," "indirect potable reuse for  
              groundwater recharge" and "indirect potable reuse through  
              reservoir augmentation".

           3) Requires DPH to adopt uniform water recycling criteria for  
              indirect potable reuse for groundwater recharge on or  
              before December 31, 2013.

           4) Requires DPH to develop and adopt uniform water recycling  
              criteria for indirect potable reuse through reservoir  
              augmentation on or before December 31, 2016.

           5) Requires DPH to investigate and report to the Legislature  
              on the feasibility of developing uniform water recycling  
              criteria for direct potable reuse, and requires a public  
              review draft report to the Legislature and public by June  
              30, 2016, and a final report by December 31, 2016.

           6) Requires DPH to consider specified factors in developing  
              both the uniform criteria and the feasibility study. 

           7) Requires DPH to convene an expert panel to advise on  
              scientific and technical matters related to the development  
              of the aforementioned criteria, comprised of specified  
              experts.  Allows DPH to also appoint an advisory group,  
              task force, or other group comprised of representatives of  


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              water and wastewater agencies, local public health  
              officers, and related public health and environmental  

           8) Provides that funds generated by civil penalties deposited  
              in the Waste Discharge Permit Fund between July 1, 2011 and  
              June 30, 2017 must be made available to DPH upon  
              appropriation by the Legislature in an amount of up to  
              $500,000 each fiscal year ($3 million dollars total), for  
              the purpose of completing these uniform water recycling  
              criteria requirements, and not to exceed specified amounts.

            COMMENTS  :

            1) Purpose of Bill  .  According to the author, each year,  
              California discharges nearly 4 million acre feet of  
              wastewater into the ocean - more than the State Water  
              Project delivers to the Bay Area, the Central Valley and  
              Southern Caliornia.  Much of that water could be recylced.   
              However, because the state has not adopted uniform safety  
              standards, the permitting and design processes for building  
              and operating water recycling facilities are unpredictable,  
              discouraging local communities from tapping into this major  
              water source.

            2) State regulation  .  DPH regulates projects under the State  
              Water Recycling Criteria (Title 22) and draft groundwater  
              recharge regulations. The draft recharge regulations, which  
              are used as guidance in evaluating projects, specifically  
              address protection of public health. 

              In January 2007, DPH posted a revised draft of the  
              Groundwater Recharge Regulations on its website and formed  
              an expanded Groundwater Recharge Regulations Working Group  
              (advisory group) to discuss and revise the draft  
              regulations. In August 2008, DPH posted a revised draft of  
              the regulations on its website and asked for public  
              comments to be submitted in October 2008.

              In 2009, DPH submitted the draft to DPH's legal services  
              group for review. Once a final draft has been prepared  
              based on the legal services input, the complete regulatory  
              package must be prepared and the formal regulatory process  


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              can begin. 

            3) Surface Water Augmentation criteria verses regulations  .   
              Surface water augmentation, by the bill's definition, is  
              the placement of recycled water into a reservoir used as a  
              source of drinking water.  This is a step closer to direct  
              potable reuse of recycled water.

              While there have been successful surface water augmentation  
              projects conducted in other states and countries,  
              California has yet to embark on any surface water  
              augmentation projects.  San Diego is working towards  
              initiating the first pilot project in the state, but it has  
              not commenced yet. 

              It is unclear why there is a need to rush into the  
              development of uniform regulations by December 31, 2016,  
              that would apply to any surface water augmentation project  
              in the state prior to having any public health data from a  
              first pilot project.

              This may be a case of putting the cart before the horse.   
              It may make sense to conduct an analysis of the public  
              health impacts of at least one pilot project in the state  
              and have DPH develop the criteria prior to moving ahead  
              with uniform regulations for any project in the state to  
              ensure full caution and protection of public health.

            4)Waste Discharge Permit Fund  .  The bill makes available, upon  
             appropriation of the Legislature, up to $ 3 million from the  
             Waste Discharge Permit Fund for 6 years.  The Waste  
             Discharge Permit Fund is designated for abatement projects.   
             Is this the appropriate source of funding for regulatory  
             development activities, what projects will this money be  
             diverted from over the six years, and is $3 million dollars  
             an appropriate amount for these activities?

            5)Related Legislation  .  AB 1100 (Duvall) of 2009, would have  
             defined potable reuse demonstration water and allowed it to  
             be bottled for consumption, subject to distribution limits  
             and labeling requirements, for educational purposes only.   
             (Failed passage in Senate Environmental Quality Committee.)


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              AB 410 (De la Torre) of 2009 would have set a statewide  
              water recycling target to a total of 1,300,000 acre-feet of  
              water per year by the year 2020, and 2,000,000 acre-feet of  
              water per year by the year 2030, and would require the  
              Department of Water Resources to assess progress toward  
              meeting that target every five years, based on information  
              provided in urban water management plans.  (Pending in the  
              Senate Appropriations Committee.)

              AB 2270 (Laird) of 2008 would have required additional  
              reporting on recycled water and allow local limitations on  
              salinity inputs.  (Vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.)

              AB 921 (Wayne) Chapter 295, Statutes of 1998, prohibited  
              DPH from issuing a permit to a public water system or from  
              amending a valid existing permit for the use of a reservoir  
              as a source of supply that is directly augmented with  
              recycled water, unless certain requirements imposed on DPH  
              are satisfied.

            6)Suggested Amendments  .  

               a)   The findings and declarations in the March 17, 2010  
                version of the bill better reflect the intent of the  
                Legislature's public policy direction on recycled water.   
                It may be more appropriate to revert back to those  
                findings and declarations.  

               b)   The March 17, 2010 version of the bill defines  
                "surface water augmentation."  In the April 12, 2010  
                version of the bill, the term is changed to "indirect  
                potable reuse through reservoir augmentation."  Given  
                that there is a definition for "indirect potable reuse  
                for groundwater recharge" also in the bill, it may  
                generate confusion between the two very different  
                technologies.  It is recommended that the bill be amended  
                to go back to the March 17, 2010 term of "surface water  
            SOURCE  :        Watereuse, Planning and Conservation League
           SUPPORT  :       County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles
                          East Bay Municipal Utility District


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           OPPOSITION  :    None on file