Wednesday October 26, 2022


The San Francisco Bay Area is far behind Southern California in reusing water. Policy experts say it could take decades for the state’s second-most populous region to catch up — the lower half of the state recycled 83% more water than the Bay Area last year.

Standing outside Google’s Bay View campus in Mountain View in early August, wearing a pool-blue collared shirt and a gray blazer, California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot pressed the state’s northern region to do more.

“If you spend time in Orange County, there’s a chance that you’re consuming purified water that’s been recycled,” he said. “We need to expand water recycling throughout the Bay Area.”

With two multiyear droughts in a decade and the pace of human-caused climate change accelerating each year due to the burning of fossil fuels, agencies across the region are finally grappling with the need for more recycled water and whether to expand the purple pipe systems that carry it. Boosting water recycling around the Bay Area could have a secondary benefit: preventing red tides or algal blooms in the bay that threaten marine life.

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