Water Reuse in California Agriculture
Agricultural reuse refers to recycled water used in an agricultural setting. Water is treated and used again, employing effective and efficient processes to meet specific quality standards for the intended end use.
Water that is treated and cleaned for agricultural reuse includes municipal wastewater, wastewater from plants that process agricultural products, and runoff from fields after irrigation (also known as tailwater).
Mission of the Agricultural Reuse Committee
- Providing a forum for review and provide input on agricultural reuse related regulations and legislation
- Facilitating WRCA access to agricultural reuse case studies and technical information
- Conducting outreach to agricultural groups on reuse as a potential for water supply reliability
- Reviewing the Water Board annual volumetric survey to inform and understand agricultural reuse trends
Benefits of Agricultural Reuse
- Resilient: Water recycling provides a constant, reliable supply of fresh water that does not rely on environmental factors or pumping restrictions.
- Locally Controlled: Agricultural reuse creates a local water supply for arid regions that depend on imported water.
- Environmentally Friendly: Agricultural reuse saves resources, reduces pollution to sensitive water bodies, and reduces energy use associated with pumping long distances.
- Safe: State and federal regulations establish stringent standards for water quality that protect public health.
Agricultural Reuse Growth in California
California is a leader in agricultural reuse. The 2020 State Water Resources Control Board annual volumetric survey showed a 52,000 acre-ft increase in agricultural reuse from 2019.
Agricultural Reuse Stories
- CoCo San Sustainable Farms Showcases Ag Reuse and Community Giving (Martinez, CA)
- Is farming with reclaimed water the solution to a drier future? In California, several farms are demonstrating the benefits of growing food with post-treatment water supplies (Salon)
- Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project (Monterey, California)
- Harvest Water: Recycled Water for Crop Irrigation, Groundwater Restoration, Habitat Protection, and Regional Sustainability (Sacramento, California)
- Local Agriculture is Critical to Eastern Municipal Water District’s Nationally Recognized Recycled Water Program (Perris, California)
- California Farm Water Success Stories (Pacific Institute)
Fresno Recycled Water
Tapped Out: The EGAP Story
Regulations and Resources
- Letter of Support for USEPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program – December 1, 2023
- Letter to Department of Drinking Water on Agricultural Reuse Engineering Reports – November 4, 2021
- California Title 22 Recycled Water Uses in Agriculture – Fit for Purpose
- California Recycled Water Milestones in Agriculture
Agricultural Reuse Research
- Agricultural Use of Recycled Water: Impediments and Incentives (Water Research Foundation)
- New Research Sheds Light On U.S. Agriculture’s Water Usage (Ag Web)
- Monterey Wastewater Reclamation Study (Monterey One Water)
- Reports in Support of Tulare Irrigation district and City of Visalia Proposed Water Supplies Project (California Water Institute)
- Groundwater Replenishment with Recycled Water on Agricultural Lands in California (Water Research Foundation)
- Using Disinfected Tertiary Recycled Water for Non-Dairy Livestock Watering: A Human and Animal Health Evaluation for the State of California (NWRI/California Water Board)