Many people will remember that in September 2010 Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law SB 918 which required the State Department of Public Health to investigate the feasibility of developing uniform water recycling criteria for direct potable reuse, and to provide a final report on that investigation to the Legislature.
Locals may now be experiencing a feeling of déjà vu after reading U-T San Diego’s report about SB 322 signed by Governor Brown (Brown signs bill to boost SD ‘toilet-to-tap’ plans).
The U-T writes that SB 322 : “…gives the Department of Public Health, working with the State Water Resources Control, until Sept. 1, 2016 to issue a draft feasibility report” on potable reuse and “calls for an expert panel and advisory groups to study the best course for regulating wastewater-to-drinking-water and then submit those recommendations to the two state agencies for review.”
Sound like the same thing? It is, mostly, with a few differences:
- The old bill (SB 918) directed the Department of Public Health to perform the investigation and prepare a report for the legislature by December 31, 2016. The new bill (SB 322) directs that the Department of Public Health perform the investigation in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board.
- The old bill required a public review draft to be completed by June 30, 2016. The new bill gives more time for the public review draft to be completed, shifting it to September 1, 2016.
- The old bill required an expert panel to be convened for purposes of the investigation, but didn’t say when. The new bill says the expert panel must be convened and administered on or before February 15, 2014.
- The old bill said the department may appoint an advisory group. The new bill says the department must convene an advisory group on or before January 15, 2014.
Other changes include new details covering the scope of the investigation, the composition of the expert panel, and composition of the advisory group. Curiously, while the old bill authorized the department to accept funds “from any source” for the investigation, the new bill authorizes the department to accept funds “from nonstate sources.”
In sum, the new bill adds some urgency to the effort with a deadline for convening the expert panel, changes the advisory group from optional to mandatory, and adds more specifics about the study itself.
San Diego County Water Authority’s news release characterizes the bill well, saying it “…is expected to expedite a transparent and rigorous scientific assessment of “potable reuse” as a potential water source.” (emphasis added by me)
Click here for the full text of the bill with the legislative counsel’s digest.
For background on San Diego’s potable reuse efforts, see the Water Purification Demonstration Project website.
Leave it to good old U-T San Diego. In the opening paragraph of its story on the bill, the U-T says that potable reuse has been “dubbed by critics as “toilet-to-tap.” The U-T’s headline? “Brown signs bill to boost SD ‘toilet-to-tap’ plans.” Once a critic, always a critic, eh?