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San Francisco, An Early Leader in the Use of Recycled Water

In 1932, the Recreation and Parks Department constructed the McQueen Treatment Plant in the Park. It was one of the first facilities in the nation to recycle wastewater for park irrigation. The effluent from this plant was used to supplement the wells, providing water for irrigation, as well as water features in the western end of the Park. It is estimated that the plant provided an average of 0.5 million gallons per day of water to the Park.

This unique water infrastructure allowed the park to exist in the form we know today, completing park designer Hall's vision. Because of changes in state regulations, the City decommissioned the plant in 1981 and discontinued the use of recycled water in Golden Gate Park.

Recycled Water Treatment Plant and Process

A new Recycled Water Treatment Plant would be constructed in Golden Gate Park to treat secondary effluent from the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant. The recycled water treatment facility would include membrane filtration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light disinfection, and treated water storage and pumping, all within a single building. The project would produce and deliver up to 2 million gallons per day, with peak deliveries of up to 4 mgd during the summertime of advanced treated water that is suitable for all recycled water uses approved by the State of California.

Recycled Water Is Used Throughout California

More and more communities throughout the United States and the world are using recycled water for nondrinking purposes. More than 1,600 sites in 11 states are using recycled water, including 160 cities in California. It is a water resource that is growing in popularity as it gains recognition as a sustainable way to preserve precious and scarce drinking water. Here are several examples of the ways communities are tapping into this valuable commodity and making it work for them.

Landscaping With Recycled Water

Irrigating with recycled water does not generally require significant changes to landscaping. The vast majority of plants thrive with recycled water or periods when water is in short supply. Recycled water can play a major role in the successful management of turf grasses. Because recycled water is produced from municipal wastewater, the large volumes of water needed to maintain adequate turf growth are readily available even during water shortages. The higher nutrient content of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in recycled water is beneficial to turf grasses. In many cases, turf and other types of landscape materials will receive all the phosphorous and potassium they require, plus a large part of their nitrogen requirement, from recycled water.

Santa Clara County

In Santa Clara County, a network of more than 100 miles of pipeline delivers recycled water for irrigation of landscaping, playing fields, golf courses, dual-plumbing, agriculture and other non-drinking water purposes. Notable Santa Clara businesses using recycled water include the San Francisco 49ers, Sun Microsystems, California's Great America, and many more.

East Bay Municipal Utility District

Since 1971, EBMUD has been using recycled water for various industrial and irrigation applications, including landscape irrigation at the District's Main Wastewater Treatment Plant in Oakland. The treatment facility's landscaping includes turf and a variety of trees, plants, and flowers, which are flourishing.

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