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

Waste Discharge Requirements Program

The 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.
  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 2016

The 2016 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 102,000 acre-feet (ac-ft) of wastewater, of which approximately 57,000 ac-ft of recycled water was beneficially reused in 2016. By comparison, in 2015 the total volume of wastewater treated was approximately 96,000 ac-ft. The volume of recycled water that was reported as reused increased from approximately 53,000 ac-ft in 2015 to 57,000 ac-ft in 2016. The percentage of treated wastewater beneficially reused as recycled water was very similar at 56 percent in 2016 versus 57 percent in 2015.

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  (Page last updated 11/3/17)