Recycled & Other Non-Potable Water

Facing historic drought, increased attention is turning to water reuse opportunities. The information below is provided to help customers in the Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) service area understand the value of recycled water and other water reuse and capture opportunities. The RWQCP service area includes:  East Palo Alto Sanitary District, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Stanford.

What is Recycled Water?

Recycled water is highly treated wastewater that meets rigorous California Code of Regulations standards. Recycled water is clean, safe and can be used for irrigating food crops, including root crops, where water has direct contact with the plant, parks and playgrounds, school yards, residential and commercial landscaping, golf courses and more. Recycled water is generated at the RWQCP which is owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto for its six partner agencies.

How to Get Recycled Water

Can I get recycled water from the RWQCP for commercial or residential irrigation?
Currently, recycled water is available for pickup at the RWQCP overhead standpipe and Greer Park hydrant for permitted users only.  There is no charge for the water itself. Permits are required to obtain recycled water for irrigation and other permitted uses on commercial or residential properties. Permittees must be located within ten miles of the RWQCP (2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto) and meet the requirements (listed in the Permit Application) for obtaining, using and distributing recycled water. Permits are $50 and are payable to the "City of Palo Alto".  A short-form, free permit is also for individual residents who want to receive recycled water from a permitted recycled water hauler. 

For more information about the RWQCP's Recycled Water Program:
Visit the Plant at 2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto 94303
Call: 650.329.2598
Email: recycledwater@cityofpaloalto.org

Can I get recycled water piped to my house or business?

What Are Other Non-Potable Sources I Can Use?

Stormwater Capture and Use
Stormwater is rain that flows over the ground into creeks and San Francisco Bay. Capturing stormwater can offset the need for potable water used for irrigation. Stormwater capture rebates from the City of Palo Alto help residents and businesses harvest rainwater using cisterns, rain barrels, green roofs and permeable pavement.

What is “graywater” and “laundry-to-landscape”?
Graywater is water captured from washing machines, bathtubs and showers that can be used for irrigation (graywater does not include water from kitchens or toilets). Laundry-to-landscape directly connects washing machine water to a landscaped area for irrigation.  Check out the City of Palo Alto's graywater rebates and classes.

Groundwater Pumping From Construction Sites

I see groundwater pumped from construction sites into storm drains. Is this okay?
Yes. During the construction of a basement or underground garage there is sometimes a shallow aquifer that must be temporarily pumped into storm drains to allow construction to move forward. This groundwater is not the same water that would be used for drinking water and it would otherwise still travel to creeks and San Francisco Bay as stormwater if it was not pumped there first. This water is important to the creek and Bay ecosystems.

Since this water can be used for dust control, vehicle washing and tree irrigation, it can be obtained from these sites via water trucks or vehicle mounted tanks. 

For more information on groundwater pumping on construction sites, contact Public Works Senior Engineer, Mike Nafziger 650.617.3103.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions!

Note:  Typically, groundwater pumping does not occur during the rainy season (November through March).
Last Updated: May 18, 2017