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River Islands irrigating with recycled water
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Water that River Islands at Lathrop residents send down the drain won’t got to waste.

The Central Valley Regional Water Control Board this week approved River Islands using treated wastewater to irrigate parks and other common areas.

“They (the water quality board) sped up approval because of the drought,” noted River Islands project manager Susan Dell’Osso.

The 11,000-home planned community had already installed purple pipe so treated water could be applied to common landscaping and parks. The development currently uses non-potable water to irrigate common landscaping and parks.

Dell’Osso noted the board’s staff when River Islands first filed an application last year had concerns that the recycled water would seep eventually into the high quality, shallow aquifer fed by the San Joaquin River.

Dell’Osso said those qualms were addressed when Cambray Group engineers noted that the water is being applied directly to the plant roots and not via flood irrigation. That means the chances are nil that any water will ever seep down far enough to raise water quality concerns with the aquifer.

River Islands was designed from the beginning to make minimum use of water and to consume less than a half an acre foot of water per household. There are already 41 families living in the community

River Islands at Lathrop is arguably the most water miserly community in South San Joaquin County.

All common area landscaping such as medians employ drought resistant landscaping. All front yards have minimal lawns with water sipping accent vegetation with irrigation systems controlled by moisture sensors.

That means if there is rain or moisture in the air such as a foggy mist, the irrigation systems will not come on. That is an going problem in many cities where residents have lawns and the yard irrigation on automated timers. It isn’t unusual to see sprinklers come on in the middle of a rain storm or on a foggy day throughout Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, Tracy and other valley cities.

Manteca has talked about using recycled wastewater for park and other city landscaping for nearly a decade.

They actually got the water quality control board’s approval to use recycled treated wastewater to irrigate the fields at Big League Dreams and landscaping in and around the Stadium Retail Center. The city installed an irrigation well drawing from a shallow aquifer that has non-potable water ton use until such time as the state gave them an OK. When the approval came, they decided it was too expensive so they decided to continue using the well.

Purple pipe is currently being installed in the developments for the purpose of one day using treated wastewater for park and common area landscaping in Manteca.