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Workshop set on discussing using recycled wastewater
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Recycling what we send down the drain could go a long way to making Manteca and surrounding farmland drought-proof.

That is the premise of a workshop set for Thursday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center at South Main and Moffat Boulevard to discuss recycling treated municipal wastewater.

Public Works Senior Engineer Fernando Ulloa noted the city is exploring all possible uses of recycled water as it cobbles together a Reclaimed Water Facilities Master Plan.

Staff will share with the public Thursday how other cities have used recycled water for everything from landscape irrigation and farmland irrigation to recharging groundwater. A question and answer period will follow.

A sizeable amount of water used domestically in Orange County comes from an aquifer that has been recharged since the 1960s using treated wastewater. The Orange County Water District last year increased production of treated wastewater used for groundwater recharge from 70 million gallons to 100 million gallons a day.

San Diego is going a step further. They are in the process of building a $2.5 billion plant to recycle wastewater directly as drinking water and for other domestic purposes.

With 1.4 million people, San Diego imports 85 percent of its water from Northern California and the Colorado River. A San Diego County Water Authority survey in 2012 indicated almost three of four residents favored turning wastewater into drinking water up from about 25 percent seven years prior.

San Diego intends to recycle 15 million gallons daily by 2023 and 83 million gallons daily by 2035. Ultimately a third of the city’s water supply would come from recycled treated wastewater.

 At the same time, a $1 billion desalination plant is under construction that is expected to provide 50 million gallons of drinking eater daily for San Diego starting in 2016.

Since the 1990s Manteca has used treated wastewater to irrigate land around the wastewater treatment plant that is leased to a farmer who grows corn for feeding to dairy cattle.

A few years back, the city was issued a Regional Water Control Board permit to use treated wastewater from the city’s plant to irrigate landscaping. Purple pipe was installed to do so for the Stadium Retail Center fountain and landscaping as well as the turf at the Big League Dreams sports complex. The city, however, determined it was less expensive at the time to sink a  shallow well and irrigate the sports complex and the Stadium Retail Center landscaping with non-potable water drawn from an aquifer closer to the surface.

The drought has made cost less of a critical factor.

Neighbors United, a group composed primarily of rural South Manteca residents last week urged the council to consider using recycled wastewater to sell to farmers.