The California Recycled
Water Plan

Solving California’s water issues for the next 100 years

The California Recycled Water Plan is a statewide water-recycling plan to:
• RECYCLE treated municipal wastewater
• SUPPLY agricultural users with a new, year-round, water resource
• GENERATE revenue for municipalities

As a new water resource, recycled water alleviates the massive strain on California’s natural water resources and provides a cost-effective solution for municipal wastewater disposal. As a commodity, recycled water would generate significant annual revenues for municipalities, ultimately paying for the initial investment necessary for implementation.

Lake Shasta

The California Recycled Water Plan offers the following:

  •  RECOVER 4,500,000 acre-feet of water currently being dumped into waterways and the Pacific Ocean and re-direct it to agricultural users statewide.

  •  REDUCE depletion of underground aquifers by eliminating the need for agricultural users to pump groundwater.

  •  RETURN vital waterways to historically natural flows, and decrease the ecological impact of treated wastewater disposal on coastal habitat and marine life.

  •  GENERATE new sources of revenue for municipalities to offset the initial costs of infrastructure improvements and to provide long-term support for their economic health.

  •  PROTECT against recurring future drought years by ensuring sufficient water resources to support the State’s municipal, environmental and agricultural needs.

  •  PROVIDE a 100-year solution that economically, environmentally, and logistically feasible than can be implemented stages beginning almost immediately.

How It Works (The Logistics)

California has a vast and highly functional water conveyance system spanning most of the state and capable of connecting rural and urban areas.

Utilization of this existing system is pivotal to the feasibility and affordability of a statewide water-recycling program.

Wastewater treatment facilities and irrigation districts would be grouped geographically. Treated wastewater would flow directly from each municipality to its nearest agricultural irrigation district.

Unused water from one irrigation district could be conveyed to a neighboring one. Designated reservoirs would store water during non-irrigating seasons for use during periods of high demand.

Each region would be responsible for maintaining its physical water conveyance and metering systems and monitoring its water sales. Integration of a customized software program would facilitate water sale transactions.

The ability to effectively and accurately track and re-direct water flows within the canal and pipeline system is made ever more possible with technological advancements in solar-powered water metering systems, real-time water flow tracking, and mobile applications for on-site/off-site and in-field use.

Ecological and Environmental Stability

Allow natural water flows to stabilize
Eliminate negative ecological effects of coastal dumping
Revitalization of recreation & tourism industries statewide

The Future is Recycled Water

Water is a finite global resource. It is imperative for policy makers and water planners to recognize that recycled water is an invaluable natural asset.

The introduction of this new water resource will fundamentally alter California’s future.

  • Every acre-foot of water made available to agriculture replaces the need for an acre-foot to be taken from a river, lake, stream, or underground aquifer.
  • The estimated 4,500,000 acre-feet of available treated municipal water across the State of California – equal to the amount of water in Lake Shasta - at a price of $500.00 per acre-foot, would generate annual revenues of $2.25 billion.
  • Millions of dollars will not be spent on underground pipelines to divert water from our most valuable natural resources or for low rate-of-return investments, like desalinization.
  • The California Recycled Water Plan invests in an infrastructure that will serve California into the next century.
  • California will lead the world in recognizing the value of recycled water and become an example for other states and countries to follow.

Regional Highlights

The Central Valleys

The agricultural powerhouse of the US, California’s top 10 agricultural counties lie in the central valleys of the state and were responsible for contributing over $43 billion to the state economy in 2010. Without water, these crops do not exist. The economic and social implications of a diminished California agriculture industry are destructive to the entire state. By providing agriculture with access to a water resource capable of delivering 4,500,000 acre-feet of water annually, groundwater pumping ceases, reasonable and long term planning shifts from a water war mentality to one of resource preservation and conservation, and critical economic and ecological stability become achievable.

The Delta

The myriad problems associated with Sacramento River Basin water resources include: maintaining river flows to reestablish fisheries and protect habitat, maintaining deep water channels for shipping and stabilizing oxygen content, increasing the quality and supplies of groundwater, broadening water management guidelines to give greater value to social, cultural, and environmental solutions, and providing a reliable water supply to agriculture. Protection and restoration of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem is vital to the environmental and economic health of the entire state. As the state’s single largest water resource, the Delta also provides critical habitat for over 500 species of wildlife, including 20 endangered species. Existing conservation measures, proposed underground pipelines, and targeted water re-allocation options will not be capable of affecting the change necessary for the region’s long-term sustainability.

This plan creates a significantly positive, tangible impact in a timely manner. Agricultural-based water draws from the Delta decrease and natural water flows begin to resume historically healthy levels. During seasons of drought, agriculture’s groundwater pumping activity does not need to increase to offset lost water resources. Salmon migration can flourish with improved water quality. Native fish, bird, and wildlife habitat improves, with increased long-term sustainability providing renewed vibrancy to local recreation, tourism and fishing economies. Local populations and communities shift from economic stagnation towards recovery and growth.

Southern California

Many cities across Southern California face significant challenges every day in the disposal of municipal wastewater. The region produces approximately 1,000,000 acre-feet of tertiary water annually which, when valued at $500 an acre-foot, translates into potential annual revenues of nearly $500 million. Construction of a pipeline from Southern California can carry this recycled water to agricultural users in the central valleys where it is desperately needed.

Learn More

California Recycled Water Plan (PPT File)
California Recycled Water Plan (PDF File)


Gregory B. Ryan
T: (707) 217-8425   |   E:


Meagan R. Stasz
T: (208) 720-0170   |   E:


General Info

Gregory Ryan & Meagan R. Stasz, California Recycled Water Plan