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Bill To Tap Wastewater Reduction Into Ocean

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Sonora, CA — A new bill would require a 50 percent curtailment in the amount of wastewater allowed to flow into the ocean by 2030, which would reduce the drag on the Sierra snowpack.

Most California communities use water once then dispose of it, at a tremendous environmental and economic cost, according to SB 332 co-author, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys).  Calling it a ‘pump and dump” approach, Hertzberg adds that nearly 400 billion gallons of treated water are “wastefully” discharged into the ocean or California estuaries annually. He adds that as climate change creates hotter, drier conditions and reduces the storage capacity of the Sierra snowpack, the need to prevent water waste is more critical than ever.

Senator Hertzberg argues, “The reality of climate change has led our society to shift toward sustainable and renewable electricity; we must rethink our water policy with the same view toward sustainability.”

SB 332 would require wastewater treatment facilities to reduce the volume of treated wastewater discharged into the ocean on an annual basis with the goal to reach 95% by 2040. The responsibility to develop the needed infrastructure to meet this target would be on both dischargers of wastewater and local water suppliers through a combination of improved water conservation along with efficiency and recycling.

Proponents of the bill include the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is a sponsor of the bill, and the California Coastkeeper Alliance.

  • Snowpack reading at Phillips Station