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California Senate Bill 322, sponsored by state Senator Ben Hueso, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown this week. The bill will expedite the research and development of water recycling efforts, dubbed “toilet-to-tap” programs by skeptics.

“Finding ways to increase abundance of water in California is certainly challenging, but very doable,” says Hueso. Currently, the City of San Diego and the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, which serves East County communities from Santee to Alpine, have programs in place for the use of partially-treated recycled water for functions such as agriculture and landscaping.

The new law calls for investigation into whether further treatment could produce a wastewater supply clean enough to be merged with existing general-purpose water supplies, with an expert panel report available for public review and comment by September 2016.

“Thanks to Sen. Hueso, this legislation ensures thorough scientific analysis that will safeguard our water supplies as we look to expand them through recycling,” says San Diego County Water Authority resources manager Toby Roy in an October 10 release. The Water Authority estimates that recycled water will make up six percent of San Diego’s total water consumption by 2020, up from an estimated four percent today.

The addition to the local water supply could add up to as much as 100,000 acre-feet of water per year, roughly equivalent to the entire water usage of the town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has a population of just over 550,000.

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