California’s Assembly Recognizes Importance of Recycled and Reuse Water and Passes AB 869

On Tuesday, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 869, introduced by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio, with bipartisan support. The bill protects recycled water from water use restrictions proposed by the state and exempts recycled water from future drought response regulations.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is proud to co-sponsor AB 869 with Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District. Every drop of recycled water replaces a drop of potable water, increasing supply reliability and reducing energy demands associated with transporting water from the Delta or the Colorado River.

“OMWD appreciates Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio’s recognition of the importance in developing local, drought-resilient supplies that reduce day-to-day demand on imported water and reduce wastewater discharges to the Pacific Ocean,” said Larry Watt, President of OMWD’s Board of Directors. “The exemption provided by AB 869 protects past investments by ratepayers in recycled water projects and ensures the future development of new recycled and reuse water projects, even after the implementation of long-term water use restrictions.”

The first use of recycled water is when it is potable water, subject to all water use efficiency regulations. Once the treated wastewater is part of an entirely separate recycled water system, not only is it subject to the most stringent regulations for use of any water source in the state, but recycled water sites must also have a certified recycled water supervisor and are subject to annual inspections to verify efficiency and public safety.

“Reducing recycled water use does not increase potable water supply since the systems are not connected, and exempting recycled water does not prohibit establishing efficiency standards on potable water in any way,” said Greg Thomas, General Manager of Rincon del Diablo MWD. “Excluding recycled water from conservation goals and water use targets makes sense because we need a combination of water use efficiency, new supply development, and recycled water to manage California’s water challenges.”

AB 869 is the first bill approved by the California State Assembly this year to address long-term water use efficiency. The bill had been approved by the Assembly’s Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee on April 25 and its Appropriations Committee on May 24. Both committees passed AB 869 with unanimous support.

Additional sponsors of AB 869 include OMWD’s and Rincon’s partners in the North San Diego Water Reuse Coalition, including Carlsbad Municipal Water District, City of Escondido, Leucadia Wastewater District, City of Oceanside, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, Santa Fe Irrigation District, and Vallecitos Water District. Other local agencies in support of AB 869 include the City of Poway, City of San Diego, San Diego County Water Authority, and Valley Center Municipal Water District.


Updated May 31, 2017 3:45 p.m. – The original floor vote tally was 51-0 and the story was updated to reflect the final vote tally of 69-1.