Introduction: Recycled Water Documents
Over the years, policies that allowed massive wastewater discharges into our drinking water supplies were adopted while the public was sold the myth that the wastewater was so highly treated, it was almost drinkable. A few hardy souls even gave demonstrations to that effect. They now call this water, “recycled water” to give the impression that it is just as good as potable. That is not the case. Meanwhile, the vast majority of 84,000 plus chemicals estimated to be on the market now are not even monitored, let alone regulated. Significant health and birth effects to both humans and wildlife are known to occur at extremely low exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Yet current risk assessment considers low doses safe.
After years of discussion, and pressured by the need to greatly augment the State’s water supply, the State Water Board authorized The Recycled Water Policy in 2009. That policy was seen as provisional until a Scientific Panel addressed the issues of CEC’s (Contaminants of Emerging Concern). A major report was released about a year later containing the Committee’s findings. In 2012, amendments were recommended to the Recycled Water Policy that incorporated those findings, including a controversial determination that monitoring of specific endocrine disrupting chemicals in irrigated wastewater used for landscape irrigation is not necessary. The Policy set an ambitious goal of recycling 2.5 million acre feet of wastewater (approximately 325,000 gallons per acre foot) by 2030.
Yet a new scientific study was released in March, 2012, by 12 highly respected scientists in the field, that considered about 850 studies on endocrine disruption all pointing to the fact that in some circumstances, minute exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals can cause birth defects, autism, obesity, diabetes, heart problems, cancer (especially of reproductive system), Parkinson’s disease, etc. Hormones and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Low-Dose Effects and Nonmonotonic Dose Responses.
In order to facilitate this new policy, the Regional Board developed a Basin Plan Amendment that allows ‘incidental runoff’ in areas where recycled water irrigation occurs. The circumstances under which this would be allowed has been extremely controversial, due to the proclivity of runoff where spray irrigation occurs. RRWPC has demonstrated photographically that extensive runoff has occurred in Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa and in other areas as well. This runoff is particularly egregious in the summer, when flows are very low, (and may become lower if the Fish Flow Project is authorized), human use is high, and assimilation of toxins in waterways very poor.