Bottles of purified recycled water hit the streets of Los Angeles

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Agencies such as OCWD are now allowed to bottle highly purified recycled water to be handed out for free as an educational tool

Around 2,000 bottles of purified wastewater have been handed out along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, by Orange County utilities to demonstrate the safety and technological advancements to provide new sources of drinking water.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) have collaborated in a water purification facility to further convince the public that purifying what was once wastewater can become a trusted new water resource.

“California, and the world, are increasingly becoming aware that we can reuse our local water supplies in a safe and cost-efficient manner,” said Denis Bilodeau, President, OCWD. “We have perfected the treatment technology at our Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) facility. We are taking our water and our message to the public to alleviate any ‘yuck’ factor.”

Regulations limit the use of advanced purified water to replenish groundwater basins even though the GWRS facility creates water that exceeds state and federal drinking water standards. Under California law, adopted last year to expand the public’s awareness of water treatment advancements as the state moves toward direct potable reuse of this water, agencies such as OCWD are now allowed to bottle highly purified recycled water to be handed out for free as an educational tool. Bilodeau says water is so pure, it is near distilled in quality.

“We are launching a year-long effort to reach as many people as we can in California to share our success and promote a very sustainable process that will increase our water reliability in the state,” said Greg Sebourn OCSD and GWRS Steering Committee Chair. “We’re able to produce safe and great-tasting drinking water, so let’s do all we can to preserve local water supplies by reusing them.”

Although state health officials are drafting rules that could eventually permit recycled water to be sent directly to drinking water supplies (direct potable reuse), OCWD’s authority is confined to using purified recycled water indirectly, to replenish Orange County’s vital groundwater basin.