California to promote reuse and streamline permitting

In the future, most new water in California will come from a combination of improved conservation and water use efficiency, conjunctive use (coordinated management of local surface and groundwater), recycled water, drinking water treatment, groundwater remediation, and desalination.

This conclusion has just been published in the Final Water Action Plan just published by three state agencies: the Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Food & Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The original aim of the state’s water planning, says the report, was to be able to withstand a seven-year dry period without severe damage to the economy and the environment. But declining surface water flows, depletion and degradation of groundwater, and other effects of climate change have made this impossible.

“Today some regions and many communities struggle to maintain adequate water supplies after only a year or two of dry conditions,” the report states.

Recycling is the key to satisfying the state’s need for more high-quality water, says the report. The state will adopt uniform water recycling criteria for indirect potable reuse of recycled water for groundwater recharge, and develop criteria for direct potable reuse (surface water augmentation).

It will also streamline permitting for local water projects that make better use of local water supplies such as recycling, stormwater capture, and desalination of brackish and seawater.