A California water district lets residents tap a recycled water spigot for water needs during drought

So there’s a drought in your area and local utility policies restrict your ability to turn on the sprinkler for your garden. What can you do?

If you live in the Dublin San Ramon Services District in Pleasanton, Calif., you could truck a barrel or a bunch of milk jugs over to faucet at the wastewater treatment plant, fill up for free with recycled water, go home, and wet down what needs wetting.

The service has been doing a land office business since it became available in mid-June, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News. District officials “weren't sure there would be any takers, but about 60 eager do-it-yourselfers are now making regular runs to haul water to irrigate their yards and vegetable gardens, fill decorative fountains, wash off horses and control dust at stables,” the newspaper reported.

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The district is offering the service temporarily while the area goes through a drought. “As for any ‘yuck factor’ from using sewer water, users say they aren’t deterred,” the news story says.  Customers get instructions telling them that use of the water for irrigation (not for dinking) is state-approved.

“District employees came up with the water fill station idea during a brainstorming session on how to help Tri-Valley residents cope with some of the region's most severe water shortages,” the newspaper reported. “Local water suppliers have ordered customers to cut use 25 percent and limit watering lawns to twice a week…People can haul away up to 300 gallons per trip for free with no limit on trips. Those who want bigger loads must register as a commercial water hauler and pay $10 per trip.”

Dan Gallagher, operations manager for the district, told the paper, “This just blows me away about how popular this has been. I thought maybe it would be my wife and three or four other people and that would be doing it. No one is happy about the drought shortages, but people are happy to have an option for a little help."

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The district, which serves 77,000 people and pumps about 10 mgd of drinking water, gave away about 10,000 gallons of recycled water in the second week the service was offered. “It's a drop in the bucket in the big picture, but I think this project will go a long way in helping change public attitudes about using recycled water,” Gallagher told the paper.

The service helps fulfill the aims of The Fire Chief Project:

• Raise clean-water operators to the status of the fire chief.
• Make kids grow up wanting to be clean-water operators.

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Read more in the Mercury News article.  

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