Recycled Water Policy

The State Water Board supports and encourages the sustainable use of recycled water to promote conservation of water resources. The Policy for Water Quality Control for Recycled Water (Recycled Water Policy) is an important element of the overall effort to encourage the safe use of recycled water in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment. The purpose of the Recycled Water Policy is to increase the use of recycled water from municipal wastewater sources that meets the definition in Water Code section 13050(n), in a manner that implements state and federal water quality laws. For the purpose of this Policy, recycled water refers to the reuse of treated wastewater derived from municipal sources, i.e., water that is covered under California Code of Regulations Title 22, Water Recycling Criteria. Other types of water reuse include greywater, agricultural return water, industrial wastewater, and water produced from oil field operations. These types of water reuse are regulated through other programs.

The Recycled Water Policy provides goals for recycled water use in California, guidance for use of recycled water that considers protection of water quality, criteria for streamlined permitting of recycled water projects, and requirements for monitoring recycled water for constituents of emerging concern (CECs).

The Recycled Water Policy was first adopted in 2009, amended in 2013 and amended in 2018. The 2018 amendment (1) removes statewide recycled water mandates; (2) sets narrative goals for the production and use of recycled water; (3) establishes treated wastewater and recycled water reporting requirements statewide; (4) clarifies the process for recycled water project proponents to comply with Water Code section 1211 for wastewater change petitions; (5) updates requirements for salt and nutrient management planning; (6) improves consistency in permitting of recycled water projects by encouraging the use of statewide water reclamation requirements for non-potable recycled water use, removing streamlined permitting criteria for landscape irrigation recycled water projects, and adding permitting guidance for reservoir augmentation projects; (7) updates monitoring requirements for CECs in recycled water used for groundwater recharge and reservoir water augmentation, and (8) incorporates other substantive and non-substantive changes.  The Amendment also includes a provision to reconvene a Science Advisory Panel every five years to update its recommendations for CEC monitoring in recycled water.

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Definition of Recycled Water


“water which, as a result of treatment of waste, is suitable for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that would not otherwise occur and is therefore considered a valuable resource”

(Wat. Code § 13050(n))

Legislation Supports the Use of Recycled Water

The California state legislature has declared that

“…It is the intention of the Legislature that the state undertake all possible steps to encourage development of water recycling facilities so that recycled water may be made available to help meet the growing water requirements of the state”.

(Wat. Code § 13512)

Amendment to the Recycled Water Policy

In December 2016, the State Water Board adopted Resolution No. 2016-0061, which directed staff to reconvene the Science Advisory Panel to update its recommendations for monitoring CECs in recycled water and update the Recycled Water Policy considering changes that have taken place since 2013.

Notice of Decision

Office of Administrative Law Approval of Amendment to Water Quality Control Policy for Recycled Water (April 25, 2019)

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has approved State Water Resources Control Board Resolution No. 2018-0057 pursuant to section 11353 of the Government Code.

Adopted Resolution to Amend the Water Quality Control Policy for Recycled Water (April 25, 2019)

On December 11, 2018, the State Water Board adopted Resolution No. 2018-0057, amending the Recycled Water Policy. The Amendment was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and is effective as of April 8, 2019.

Proposed Final Amendment to the Policy for Water Quality Control for Recycled Water (November 15, 2018)

The Proposed Final Amendment and Staff Report with Substitute Environmental Documentation includes changes made in response to public comments received during the May 9, 2018 to June 26, 2018 comment period; the August 27 to September 10, 2018 comment period; and scientific peer review:

PFOS and PFOA Revised Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment (August 27, 2018)

Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment (May 9, 2018)

Stakeholder Workshops

Project Scoping

Science Advisory Panel on CECs in Recycled Water

More Information

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