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Collecting a recycled water sample for testing.Regulation of Water Recycling
With the adoption of the Porter-Cologne Act in 1969, the Legislature declared its intent to “undertake all possible steps to encourage development of water recycling facilities.” Although water recycling and reuse projects operated successfully before that time, laws enacted in 1969 set forward a basic structure for water reuse projects that have been in place for over 40 years. The California Water Code articulates a clearly defined strategy favoring the beneficial reuse of water to the maximum extent practical. Under this structure of laws and administrative regulations, the State Water Resources Control Board - Division of Drinking Water (SWRCB - Division of Drinking Water) is responsible for the adoption of regulations for the use of recycled water.

Highest Treatment for the Highest Use
SWRCB - Division of Drinking Water establishes water quality standards and treatment reliability criteria for water recycling under Title 22, Division 4, Chapter 3, of the California Code of Regulations. Requirements for use of recycled water not addressed by the uniform statewide criteria are established by SWRCB - Division of Drinking Water on a case-by-case basis. The Water Uses page illustrates the wide variety of successful reuse applications and the level of treatment required.

Title 22 sets bacteriological water quality standards on the basis of the expected degree of public contact with recycled water. For water reuse applications with a high potential for public contact, Title 22 requires disinfected tertiary treatment. For applications with a lower potential for public contact, Title 22 requires three levels of secondary treatment, basically differing by the amount of disinfectant required.

Other Health and Safety Protections
In addition to establishing recycled water quality standards, Title 22 specifies the reliability and redundancy for each recycled water treatment and use operation. The treatment plant design must allow for efficiency and convenience in operation and maintenance and provide the highest possible degree of treatment under varying circumstances. For recycled water piping, SWRCB - Division of Drinking Water has requirements for preventing backflow of recycled water into the public water system and for avoiding a cross-connection between the recycled and potable water systems.

Other regulations include the Uniform Plumbing Code, which contains requirements for the installation, construction, alteration, and repair of reclaimed water systems intended to supply toilets, urinals, and trap primers for floor drains and floor sinks. The California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association has issued guidelines for planning, designing, constructing, and operating recycled water systems. These guidelines provide essential design criteria and specifications for the construction of transmission, storage, pumping, and other facilities. The Association has also included a description of system operation and maintenance requirements pursuant to applicable state regulations.