Recycled water is distributed via its own dedicated pipeline system to end users. The recycled water distribution system uses purple pipes to distinguish that system from the drinking water system.
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Recycled water is regulated by the California Department of Public Health and the State Water Resources Control Board, California Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These regulatory agencies have approved the use of recycled water for:
Recycled water is appropriate for all human contact, except for drinking.
All water on earth is, in some way, recycled. However, the current meaning of recycled water is wastewater that has been treated and purified through a high level of treatment that is approved by regulatory agencies for non-potable (non-drinking uses), such as for landscape irrigation, some industrial uses and other approved uses.
Water treatment technology has been developed to mimic nature's cleansing process. Prior to its use, recycled water undergoes four levels of purification to produce a high quality water that meets or exceeds water quality standards.
The wastewater is collected in large tanks where settled and floatable materials are removed for further treatment and disposal. The wastewater, which still contains dissolved and suspended organic material, continues to the next stage of processing.
The wastewater is further treated in aeration tanks which contain naturally occurring microbes and enzymes that consume the remaining dissolved and suspended organic material. Air is bubbled through the tanks to supply the microbes with oxygen. Settling is then used to separate these microbes from the treated water.
Filtration and disinfection processes, using specialized granular material or membrane filters, are used to remove any remaining suspended solids.