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Recent California Water News


Unintended Consequences

Dec 05, 2017

The Unintended Consequences of Indoor Water Conservation

High rates of water conservation helped California manage limited supplies during the 2012–16 drought. But conservation can have a downside. New research shows that indoor water conservation can reduce the quality and quantity of wastewater, making it harder for local agencies to use treated wastewater to augment their water supply.

We talked to two members of the research team about their findings: David Jassby, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA; and Kurt Schwabe, professor of environmental economics and policy at UC Riverside and an adjunct fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center.

Jassby summarized the problem: “In general, as people conserve water inside their homes, the concentration of contaminants in the wastewater goes up—organic matter, nitrogen, detergents, and more. All of these things have to be treated.”