Recycled Water e-Sources  
El Estero Recycled Water Demonstration Garden 
El Estero Demo Garden 
This demonstration garden highlights the many different plant species who thrive on recycled water. See the photo tour here.
Recycled  Water  Links

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The Santa Barbara Zoo, and Recycled Water Too!

SB ZOO Giraffes
Masai giraffe calf Daniel, born in January 2011, with his mother, Audrey, at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Photo Credit: Sheri Horiszny


 Did you know that the Santa Barbara Zoo has been a leader in recycled water use since 1989? Many of the turf areas are irrigated with recycled water, as well as used for water features for the Gibbon Island, Swan Lake, and the capybara exhibit. The City and the Zoo have teamed up to maximize its use at the site and once currently planned conversions are completed, 93% of all irrigated area will use recycled water.


According to Rich Block, Chief Executive Officer, "The zoo is excited to provide a fun, entertaining, and safe environment for families to enjoy while also helping to conserve our community's precious water supplies".


On their website, it states that "The Santa Barbara Zoo is dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of the natural world and its living treasures through education, research, and recreation." Through their dedication to reducing reliance on our precious potable water supplies through the use of recycled water and implementation of water conservation programs, the Zoo demonstrates their commitment to this mission statement. In addition, they have many more programs, including waste management, solar electricity generation, and use of biodegradable cups, plates, and flatware, that further reveal their desire to contribute to our community and the natural world in general.


Kudos to the Santa Barbara Zoo for being a leader in innovative environmental programs!

Study Shows that Highly Treated Wastewater Can Be a Safe Drinking Water Supply


El Estero Digestor

A report released by the National Research Council examines the use of treated wastewater as a potential future drinking water supply and explores the challenges and benefits of reusing municipal wastewater as a drinking water supply, i.e. "potable reuse." Due to increasing treatment technologies, the report states that treated wastewater can be as safe, or even safer, than existing potable water supplies.



Many communities, like Santa Barbara, use treated wastewater for irrigation and toilet flushing purposes. With increased technology of wastewater treatment, this water could be used for drinking water, also called "potable reuse."  Although the City has no plans to start using recycled water for a potable water source, the report highlights the benefits of using recycled water for its many uses. The City's recycled water project has an important role in our water supply portfolio; adding to the City's diverse water supplies ensures that the City meets our customers' water needs.


While it may sound like a new concept, in fact, many communities nationwide are already using treated wastewater in their potable water systems, simply because they live downstream on a river from other communities. This "de facto reuse" occurs whenever a community is drawing their water downstream from a community that releases its wastewater into the same river.


The report emphasizes that the possible health risks of contaminants are minimal in re-using highly treated wastewater as a water source. Current wastewater technology is able to reduce both chemical and microbial contaminants to levels comparable or lower than many potable water supplies.
Read the report