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Los Angeles Could Soon See ‘Toilet to Tap’ Water System


July 28, 2022

By Brian Hews

Water recycling is hitting the big time; and to think Asm. Cristina Garcia wanted to shut down Central Basin, the Commerce-based recycled water agency.

Soon, the water that drained down your sink this morning might return to your tap.

It is called “direct potable reuse,” and Los Angeles and agencies across Southern California are looking into it, putting purified recycled water directly back into our drinking water systems.

With the recurring cycles of drought, coupled with advancements in science, we could have “toilet to tap” soon.

According to the officials at MWD, they have the technology to do this now that the scientific community has much greater confidence to safely reuse that water supply.

But it will take the State Water Resources Control Board to develop regulations by Dec. 31, 2023.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the city of Los Angeles is preparing once the regulations are passed.

The Headworks Reservoir just north of Griffith Park probably will be the state’s first approved direct potable reuse project, scheduled to come online soon after the regulations are in place.

There is also the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant that treats wastewater released into Santa Monica Bay. Still, it must be converted to produce water clean enough to drink and can produce enough for 2 million people.

According to the Times, the DWP plans to take the water produced by Hyperion and inject it underground in the southern part of Los Angeles County and the San Fernando Valley.

The city is also working with the Water Replenishment District, the biggest groundwater agency in the region, on a plan to find locations for injecting recycled water into aquifers.

Detecting chemicals in real-time is not yet possible, so water treatment operators measure how many contaminants are removed from the water during the “log removal” process, not how many contaminants remain in the water.

According to the state, three log removals take out 99.9% of the contaminant; the state requires up to 20 log removals for certain viruses.

Experts say that once SWB regulations are in place and the bigger agencies have projects going, the “smaller” agencies will follow suit, with full use in 2040.