San Diego Region – Recycled Water and Subsurface Disposal (Septic Systems) Programs

Waste Discharge Requirements Program

The Site Restoration and Groundwater Protection Branch is an integral part of the Programs regulating discharges of treated wastewater (recycled water) and wastewater subsurface disposal (septic) systems overseen by the San Diego Water Board. The Groundwater Protection Units are responsible for a large portion of the following programs:

  1. Subsurface Disposal or Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) - Regulation of point source waste discharges from septic systems and sewage treatment / disposal systems discharging to land, which could impact ground waters (WDR program).

    Relevant Policies/Documents for Regulation of OWTS:
  2. Recycled Water - Production, purveyance, and use of recycled water within the Region pursuant to California Water Code [section 13520 et seq.], the San Diego Regional Board Basin Plan, and California Code of Regulations Title 22, Division 4 [Title 22]. The San Diego Water Board has endorsed guidelines to assist regional water purveyors and stakeholders with the preparation of Salt and Nutrient Management Plans in the San Diego Region.

    Relevant Policies/Documents for Regulation of Recycled Water:
  3. Statewide General Waste Discharge Requirements (General Orders) - The State Water Board has developed a General Order for discharges to land from small domestic wastewater treatment systems and a General Order for non-potable uses of recycled water.

In addition to working cooperatively with the regulated community, staff in the Groundwater Protection Branch work closely with other regulatory agencies including the USEPA, local Health Departments, and the State Water Board Division of Drinking Water.

The San Diego Water Board issues Orders (Permits and Enforcement) to facilities that are regulated by the Recycled Water and Subsurface Disposal Programs. Orders are available from the San Diego Water Board web page [Adopted Orders]. Technical and Program documents for Core Regulatory Programs are available on-line [Core Regulatory Documents].

Current information regarding facilities regulated by the Core Regulatory Units is maintained in the on-line California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS) database.

Recycled Water Annual Summary Report 2017

The 2017 Recycled Water Annual Summary Report contains detailed information regarding the quantity and quality of recycled water produced in the San Diego Region. In general, 31 regional recycled water facilities reported that they treated approximately 91,000 acre-feet (ac-ft) of wastewater, of which approximately 51,000 ac-ft of recycled water was beneficially reused in 2016. By comparison, in 2016 the total volume of wastewater treated was approximately 96,000 ac-ft. The volume of recycled water that was reported as reused decreased from approximately 51,000 ac-ft in 2017 to 57,000 ac-ft in 2016. The percentage of treated wastewater beneficially reused as recycled water was very similar at 56 percent in 2017 and 2016.

Report of Waste Discharge

California Water Code (CWC) Section 13260 requires that a Report of Waste Discharge (ROWD) be submitted by any person discharging or proposing to discharge waste that could affect the quality of the waters of the state. The ROWD is used to develop waste discharge requirements for adoption by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region (San Diego Water Board) in accordance with CWC Sections 13263. The ROWD must therefore provide enough technical information for the San Diego Water Board staff to develop tentative Order that includes draft Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) for the proposed discharge.

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