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Water Characteristics
Water coming from sprinkler system waters flowersHow Recycled Water is Produced
Recycled water (which is also referred to as “reclaimed water”) is created from wastewater. In our region, wastewater is processed and treated at the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant, one of the largest such treatment plants in California.

After entering the plant, wastewater from homes and businesses undergoes a carefully regulated purification and disinfection process. Throughout the process, samples are taken and tested in a state-of-the art laboratory to ensure high-quality water.

Recycled water is analyzed frequently to assure its horticultural suitability. It is of such exceptional quality that it meets or exceeds most drinking water standards. Water quality standards are listed on the following chart. More detailed information comparing well water, treated water, and Hetch Hetchy with South Bay recycled water is also available.

Chemical Characteristics of Recycled Water
The following information provides some specifics about the chemistry of recycled water. With a few exceptions, recycled water is very similar to drinking or potable water.

Recycled water is well within the range of drinking water standards for alkalinity. With all landscaping, pH should be regularly monitored.

Individual plant species vary greatly in their sensitivity to sodium. The symptoms of sodium injury include a marginal scorch on the edges of older leaves. This occurs when the plant takes up excess sodium from the water in the soil. As water transpires from the leaf surface, sodium accumulates in the plant tissue. With overhead irrigation, sodium can be directly absorbed and can accumulate in wet leaves, thereby causing leaf burn. Soil surface irrigation lessens this problem.

Woody plants are especially sensitive to chloride. Evidence of chloride toxicity is first seen as leaf burn that starts at the tips of older leaves and progresses back into the leaf blade. Using a soil-applied watering system will significantly lessen this problem.

A constituent of almost all natural water, boron is essential to plant growth. The boron level of recycled water meets drinking water standards for safety. High levels of boron can be identified by yellowing, marginal burning, or internal spotting on the plant.

Because recycled water provides nitrogen in quantities that significantly benefit landscaping and turf, use of this water can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer, while cutting fertilizer costs.

Bicarbonate levels in recycled water are minimal. Higher levels could cause white deposits on plant leaves. To avoid this problem, use soil-applied watering.