Gatto Introduces Water Recycle Bill for Drought-Scarred California

Although the legislature cannot make it rain, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) is doing the next best thing: creating new sources of clean water. In February, Assemblyman Gatto introduced AB 2282, which requires the state to adopt building standards for recycled water in newly constructed commercial and residential buildings, helping California integrate recycled water into its water-supply portfolio for the future.

California is in the middle of a disastrous drought, and for the first time in history, water exports to Central Valley farms and Southern California homes have fallen to zero. Crops are dying, cities are running out of drinking water and streams are running dry.

?This drought is a stark reminder that we need to make the best use of our limited water resources,? notes Gatto. ?Recycled water is cleaner than most of the water in our natural aquifers. It?s wasteful and inefficient to dump this water into the ocean when we could use it for a productive purpose.?

Recycled water is already a popular option for many communities seeking new supplies of safe and inexpensive water. In 2009, 669,000 acre-ft of treated, municipal wastewater was beneficially reused in California, mostly for irrigation purposes, and 51 out of 58 counties developed or identified recycled-water projects in their water-plan updates.

To ensure that homeowners and businesses aren?t economically harmed, Gatto?s bill specifically requires the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Building Standards Commission to consider the cost of various recycled-water infrastructure and the estimated quantity of water savings from using recycled water. Once standards are adopted, cities with access to recycled water, or with plans to construct recycled-water facilities, will be required to adopt these mutually beneficial standards for all new construction.

AB 2282 continues Gatto?s legislative efforts to address California?s historic water shortage. In 2011, the legislature passed Gatto?s AB 849, which reduced cities? ability to opt out of passing gray water regulations, and in 2012, the Legislature passed Gatto?s bill AB 2230 requiring all new carwashes to use 60 percent recycled water by 2014. In 2012 and 2013, Gatto authored legislation to create CalConservice, a revolving loan fund for water-use efficiency retrofits.

?This bill is about building more infrastructure,? says Gatto. ?Single-family homes use about 60 percent of their water outside; if people could water their lawns and wash their cars with recycled water, there would be 60 percent more clean water available for consumption, crops and bathtubs.?

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Ca?ada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.

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