Wasting wastewater: new report identifies water recycling opportunities

Oct 1, 2018


In California, it is a persistent challenge making water supply and water demand match up. A report being released Wednesday outlines how much water California’s coastal wastewater treatment plants dump into the ocean, and how much of that could be saved through better water management.

James Hawkins is a water policy researcher at the Santa Barbara-based Heal the Ocean. The nonprofit is focused on reducing ocean pollution, and undertook a multi-year study of the state’s recycling potential. They did so by compiling an inventory of wastewater discharges into coastal waters, wastewater coming from urban cities along the coast.

“We found 417 billion gallons were discharged at 57 locations into the Pacific Ocean and coastal bays in California in 2015,” Hawkins said. “Any indoor water use and every time you use your sink, every time you flush the toilet—that's going to all those coastal wastewater treatment plants and being treated up to secondary standards, then disposed in the ocean.”

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