It’s no secret that many parts of California are facing water shortages. While many cities and towns are encouraging their residents to reduce and reuse, Ukiah is doing things a little differently, by participating in large-scale water recycling.
Ukiah’s water recycling program
Ukiah’s water recycling program saves the city about 1,000 acre feet of water per year, or about one-third of its total use. In the past, Ukiah relied on water from the Russian River and from aquifers for its various water needs. In 2019, however, Ukiah added another source of water when it opened its own water recycling plant.
The importance of water recycling
Water recycling is becoming a more necessary option as climate change and growing populations have placed a bigger strain on limited water resources.
The process of water recycling involves taking sewage water and cleaning it using a variety of filters and chemicals until it is considered safe for human use. Ukiah’s recycled water flows through a sand filter after it goes through the regular wastewater treatment process. It is then put in a tank with chlorine before it is sent out for reuse.
Ukiah gives away this recycled wastewater for free. This is a way for the city to encourage people to use this source of water rather than the limited water supply from the Russian River.
Although Ukiah’s recycled water is not potable (safe for human consumption), it can be used for things like agriculture and toilet flushing. In some areas of the country, recycled water is converted into potable water using advanced cleaning methods like reverse osmosis or dilution.
A tremendous water savings
Even though Ukiah has access to a large aquifer, its water recycling program is a way that the city can guarantee its water reserves won’t run out. By supplying one-third of the annual water needs of the city, this program is creating major water savings.
The water that is recycled is held in holding ponds with a storage capacity of over 60 million gallons of water total. The ponds are lined to prevent the water from entering the ground. Area vineyards, farms, schools, and parks are just some of the recipients of this recycled water.
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