BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 918
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          Date of Hearing:   June 29, 2010

                            Jared William Huffman, Chair
                     SB 918 (Pavley) - As Amended:  June 1, 2010

          SENATE VOTE  :   24-12
          SUBJECT  :   Water recycling

           SUMMARY  :   Requires the State Department of Public Health (DPH)  
          to establish standards for various types and uses of recycled  
          water. Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Requires the DPH to adopt uniform water recycling criteria 
                  a)        by December 31, 2013 for indirect potable use  
                    by groundwater recharge, and 

                  b)        by December 31, 2016 for indirect potable use  
                    by surface water augmentation.
                        i.             The criteria for surface water  
                         augmentation must be reviewed and approved by an  
                         expert panel of 6 members with specified  
                         expertise (a toxicologist, wastewater engineer,  
                         drinking water engineer, epidemiologist,  
                         microbiologist, and a chemist).

                        ii.            Requires that the criteria for  
                         indirect potable reuse through surface water  
                         augmentation developed by DPH shall consider 10  
                         specified sources of information on water reuse.

                        iii.           Provides that members of the expert  
                         panel may be compensated for travel expenses.

          2)Requires DPH to investigate and report to the Legislature on  
            the feasibility of developing criteria for direct potable  
            reuse of recycled water, by December 31, 2016.  The report to  
            the Legislature shall include a consideration of six specific  
            factors related to direct potable reuse of recycled water.

          3)Authorizes the DPH to convene an advisory group on the  
            development of direct potable reuse criteria, to include at  
            least 9 representatives of water agencies, local governments,  
            environmental, public health, environmental justice and  


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            business.  Members of the advisory group may be compensated  
            for travel expenses. 

          4)Authorizes expenditure from the Waste Discharge Permit Fund  
            from July 1, 2011 until June 30, 2017 for implementation of  
            the bill.  The Fund is currently allocated for use by the  
            State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

           EXISTING LAW  

          1)Requires the SWRCB and the Regional Water Quality Control  
            Boards (RWQCBs) to enforce water quality laws and regulations  
            for the state's waterways.

          2)Requires DPH to establish uniform statewide recycling criteria  
            for each type of use of recycled water where the use involves  
            the protection of public health.

          3)Requires the assessment of penalties for violations of water  
            quality laws and requires the funds generated by these  
            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.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  

           1)Purpose  : According to the bill's author, "California  
            discharges nearly 4 million acre feet (maf) of wastewater into  
            the ocean each year? ?and much of that water could be  
            recycled.  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."  
          Under the current framework, each project that proposes to use  
            recycled water must undergo its own specific permitting  
            process regarding the water quality of the recycled water.   
            The current law requires project-by-project permitting, and  
            the uncertainty associated with the permitting process, as  
            well as the extended timeline, act as a strong deterrent for  
            any local agency that is considering investing millions of  


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            dollars to begin a recycled water program. 

           2)Three parts of the bill  
                  a)        Groundwater replenishment regulations, by  
                    2013: DPH is instructed to complete the regulations  
                    pertaining to the use of recycled water for  
                    groundwater replenishment; these regulations have been  
                    in draft form since 2008.
                  b)        Surface water augmentation criteria, by 2016:  
                    DPH is instructed to develop criteria for the use of  
                    recycled water for surface water augmentation, but  
                    only if the review by an expert panel (set up for this  
                    purpose) concludes that the criteria protect public  
                  c)        A study of direct potable reuse, with a report  
                    to the Legislature, by 2016: DPH is instructed to  
                    investigate the feasibility of direct potable reuse of  
                    recycled water, and may assemble an advisory group to  
                    assist in the study.

           3)About recycled water  : Recycled water, also commonly known as  
            reclaimed water, is water that began as wastewater (sewage)  
            then underwent treatment in a wastewater treatment plant to  
            remove pollutants and pathogens.  Depending on the level of  
            treatment, the regulatory requirements, availability of  
            infrastructure, and the acceptance in the local community,  
            recycled water can be used for many purposes, that can be  
            divided into three categories: 

                  a)        Non-potable reuse: such as lawn, crop, or  
                    ornamental plant irrigation, industrial processes  
                    (e.g. cooling).  This is currently the most common use  
                    for recycled water in California.

                  b)        Indirect potable reuse: such as groundwater  
                    basin recharge.  The recycled water is used to  
                    replenish either an underground or an above-ground  
                    body of water (i.e., either an aquifer or a stream or  
                    lake) that is later, and after additional treatment,  
                    used to supply a drinking water system.  This use has  
                    been practiced in Southern California since 1962, and  
                    has been expanding in recent years.

                  c)        Direct potable reuse: would consist of the  
                    introduction of recycled water directly into a  


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                    drinking water system (with appropriate treatment  
                    before distribution).  It is not currently practiced  
                    in California or the US, and there is only one  
                    operational direct potable use system in the world, in  
                    Windhoek, Namibia.  
                  The main difference between direct and indirect potable  
                    reuse is that the latter includes spatial or temporal  
                    separation between the introduction of recycled water  
                    and its distribution as drinking water, whereas with  
                    the direct potable reuse water flows "pipe-to-pipe"  
                    with no spatial or temporal buffer.  
                  No direct potable reuse projects have been proposed in  

           4)Comment  : From "Toilet-to-tap", to "Showers-to-flowers" and  
            "Virtual river".  
          The attitude towards recycled water in California has changed in  
            the past five decades, so that today it is seen as a resource,  
            rather than a "surplus" or "waste", and there is recognition  
            that an increased use of recycled water could contribute to  
            the security and stability of the State's water supply.  

          Interestingly, the potable reuse of recycled water in California  
            had gotten off to a rocky start.  Some of the early  
            groundwater recharge projects in the 1970s (nicknamed  
            "toilet-to-tap" by opponents) were designed without much  
            public input and with what appeared to have been a  
            "good-enough" approach to quality of the recycled water; they  
            were roundly rejected by local residents and voters.  On the  
            other hand, the non-potable reuse projects ("purple pipe"),  
            had continued to expand, gained public acceptance, and most  
            Californians today are familiar with recycled water irrigation  
            (nicknamed "showers-to-flowers" by supporters).  
          In the last decade, water managers in Southern California have  
            renewed their interest in using recycled water for potable  
            reuse, but with a dramatically different approach: the  
            emphasis now is on scientific and public input, a transparent  
            process, and water quality criteria and treatment methods that  
            ensure a high degree of safety.  Other important developments  
            include the improvements in water treatment technology, and  
            the focus on ensuring the removal of the contaminants of  
            emerging concern (endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals, etc.)  
            from the recycled water.  Thus, the quality of some of the  
            recycled water is better than the quality of the aquifer it is  
            recharging (examples in Southern California and Nevada).  


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          As a result, the recent (2000-2005) recycled water projects in  
            Southern California have been met largely with public support,  
            especially as it has become increasingly apparent that the  
            potentially large amount or recycled water - a "virtual river"  
            - represents a very stable, locally available source of water.  

           5)State agencies affected:  DPH, and State Water Resources  
            Control Board; neither has an official position on the bill.

           6)Proposed amendments  : California Coastkeeper Alliance and Heal  
            the Bay have suggested a minor wording change in Section 1 (k)  
            (2), page 5 line 6: instead of "shall be made available"  
            substitute "may be made available".  The bill's sponsor argues  
            that this change would be immaterial, because the sentence  
            includes the words "?upon appropriation by the Legislature?".   
            The Committee might wish to consider whether such a "funding"  
            amendment might be better evaluated in the bill's next  
            destination, the Appropriations Committee.


          Planning & Conservation League (Co-Sponsor)
          WateReuse (Co-Sponsor)
          California Association of Sanitation Agencies
          California Coastkeeper Alliance (if amended)
          California Municipal Utilities Association
          California Water Association
          City of San Jos?
          County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
          East Bay Municipal Utility District
          Eastern Municipal Water District
          Heal the Bay (if amended)
          Irvine Ranch Water District
          Las Virgenes Municipal Water District
          Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
          San Diego Coastkeeper
          San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments

          None on file.


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           Analysis Prepared by  :    Igor Lacan / W., P. & W. / (916)