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What is recycled water?

Recycled water is wastewater that is cleaned through multiple levels of treatment.

Recycled water is clean and safe. Recycled water is treated to strict standards set by the Division of Drinking Water and is rigorously monitored by local, state, and federal agencies to ensure it continuously meets those standards.

All recycled water in Santa Clara County meets or exceeds standards set by the state for the various uses of recycled water.

Various uses of non-potable recycled water include irrigation, industrial, and agricultural uses.

Water has naturally been recycled through the earth’s water cycle for millions of years. During the past 200 or so years, what has been termed “unplanned recycling” has occurred. This consists of upstream cities discharging their treated wastewater to a river or other waterway from which downstream cities obtain water for treatment to drinking water standards. For example, the Sacramento River receives treated wastewater and also serves as a water source for many towns and cities.

Benefits of recycled water:

  • Conserves drinking water supplies.
  • Provides a dependable, drought-proof, all-weather, and locally-controlled water supply.
  • Helps restore and preserve our saltwater and tidal habitats by reducing freshwater discharge to the Bay.
  • Is more economical and environmentally sustainable because it is less energy-intensive and has a lower carbon footprint than many other water supply sources 

Read more in "Watts to Water" (PDF)