On April 4th Senator Scott Wiener’s onsite water reuse bill SB 966 was passed unanimously by the Environmental Quality Committee. SSV’s Water Team was pleased a variety of their suggestions to further enhance the bill were incorporated as amendments, including several carve-outs for low risk, high impact systems and safeguards for existing systems. SSV’s Sr. Water Director, Cindy Clark, was a witness with Paula Kehoe of SFPUC.  According to Clark, “SB 966 is an important step forward in creating a predictable permitting path for water leaders in our communities. The bill is a result of a collaborative effort of a cross-section of organizations and we are pleased to see it progress through the legislature.”

What is SB 966?

SB 966 directs the State Water Resources Control Board to establish regulations for risk-based water quality standards for onsite non-potable water systems in multi-family residential, commercial and mixed-use buildings. These risk-based standards will be consistent with the most advanced and protective public health standards. By providing state standards for establishing local programs, cities and counties, as well as system designers and end users will receive guidance necessary so that they can design, permit, install and operate onsite non-potable water reuse systems of the highest quality.  Predictability in permitting can not only reduce costs but increase demand for onsite installations.

Local cities are seeing greater demand for new building permits with onsite systems. Drivers include employers who want to provide the greenest buildings for their employees and developers who know these buildings are sought after by high-end tenants. Architects and designers understand that is very challenging to design a LEED Platinum or Living Building Certified structure without incorporating on-site water reuse features.

An Important Tool in Water Conservation

SSV is pleased to see onsite reuse take off.  For over three years SSV has been educating local leaders about the importance onsite non-potable water reuse can play in water resilience. As California’s water supplies become more strained and climate change persists, there is a pressing need for communities to develop and manage local water supplies and increase water resiliency. One such option is the implementation of an onsite non-potable water reuse program. Onsite non-potable water systems collect non-potable sources of water such as greywater, stormwater, rainwater and blackwater and treat it so that it can be reused for non-potable purposes such as irrigation and toilet flushing. So far, the widespread adoption of this program has been hindered due to regulatory and bureaucratic barriers. In addition, local jurisdictions lack guidance on the appropriate water quality standards for the use of alternative water sources.

A Wide Cross-Section of Support

Letters of support were sent from a variety of organizations including:

  • The City of Mountain View
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District
  • Facebook
  • SPUR
  • UC Berkeley
  • Integral Designs
  • Greywater Alliance
  • Natural Systems Utilities
  • The Alliance for Water Efficiency
  • Sustainable Silicon Valley

Going forward SB 966 will help to further expand onsite reuse, an important tool in our toolbox to make water conservation a California Way of Life.