Press Release

Hertzberg, Wiener Introduce Legislation to Encourage Water Recycling

SB 332, the Local Water Reliability Act, would reduce amount of treated wastewater dumped into ocean each year and set bold goals for recycling and reuse

February 20, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) today introduced legislation that calls for a dramatic decrease in the amount of treated wastewater that is dumped into the ocean each year.

California’s wastewater has historically been treated solely as waste: used once, treated, and then disposed of through offshore dumping. As a result, approximately 400 billion gallons of treated water are discarded into the ocean or California estuaries annually. That figure equates to 1.1 billion a day – the equivalent of over 12 Rose Bowls.

Just today, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 80% of Southern California’s rainfall ends up in the Pacific.

“I introduced a bill on this exact subject nearly four years ago, and it pains me that nothing has improved. It is backwards for Southern California to continue importing water by sticking a straw in the Colorado River, or in the North, while we’re also dumping billions of gallons of water into the ocean,” said Senator Hertzberg. “The reality of climate change has led our society to shift toward sustainable and renewable electricity; we must rethink our water policy with the same view toward sustainability.”

Today’s water recycling technology allows facilities to treat and reuse water safely, helping reduce energy consumption, increase water security, and improve coastal water quality. Further, there are a number of beneficial uses for recycled water, such as for groundwater recharge, landscape and agricultural irrigation, and surface water augmentation.

“California is embarrassingly behind when it comes to water recycling,” said Senator Wiener. “We dump an enormous amount of water in the ocean that could be recycled. SB 332 helps address this problem by setting aggressive and attainable goals to reduce the amount of water we are wasting. Our droughts are only going to become more frequent and more severe. We must take aggressive steps now to prepare for this future.”

SB 332, also known as the Local Water Reliability Act, promotes the development of local water supplies by requiring wastewater treatment facilities to reduce the volume of treated wastewater discharged into the ocean annually by 50% in 2030 and 95% by 2040.

The measure has already drawn support from leading environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who is a sponsor of the bill. “The Local Water Reliability Act takes a bold step in solving California’s water crisis. It is an opportunity for our state to revolutionize how it secures its water, while meeting the demands of a growing population and a thriving economy. The Act gives new life to treated water that is traditionally wasted, and looks at innovative ways to reduce reliance on increasingly unreliable imported water supplies,” said Drevet Hunt, Senior Attorney at NRDC.

“At a time when California is facing so many tough choices on water, scaling up water recycling is an easy ‘yes,’” said Sean Bothwell, Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance. “It not only provides a cost-effective local water source for communities, it also improves ocean health by reducing the amount of treated wastewater flowing into coastal waters. I thank Senators Hertzberg and Wiener for their leadership on SB 332.”

SB 332 will receive its first committee hearing in the coming months.

Media Contact: Katie Hanzlik
Katie.Hanzlik@sen.ca.gov
Press Secretary
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 313
(916) 651-4018