Recycled Water: How It’s Made and What Its Benefits Are

(Posted 11/5/2020) North Marin Water District was formed by local voters in 1948. Each year since, water sources and water facilities have been evaluated, upgraded, and developed in order to meet the water supply needs of the community. The District built the Stafford Dam in 1951 and began importing Russian River water in 1961. Today, North Marin Water District receives about 70% of its water supply from the Russian River, but it’s important to consider alternative sources of water as the community’s needs and the environment’s needs evolve. Recycled water is an important part of North Marin Water District’s supply structure and continued efforts to become more sustainable.

What is recycled water?

Recycled water is wastewater treated to tertiary recycled water standards — the highest level of treatment defined by the State of California (referred to as Title 22). This water comes from Novato Sanitary District for the North and Central Service Areas and from Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District for the South Service Area. There are four treatment steps that wastewater goes through before it is considered tertiary recycled water: primary treatment, biological treatment (secondary), filtration and disinfection (tertiary). This level of treatment allows for unrestricted reuse in virtually all recycled water applications. Recycled water meets strict federal, state, and county health and safety requirements — second only to drinking water in purity.

 How is it used?

Currently, North Marin Water District uses recycled water for landscape irrigation at large office complexes, Valley Memorial Park Cemetery, three school fields (Hamilton Elementary, Lynwood Elementary, and the Novato Charter School), Stone Tree and Marin Country Club golf courses, many homeowners association common areas, and three automated car washes.


  • High quality: Though it is not approved for drinking, recycled water is safe and effective for use in thousands of applications throughout the United States and the world. Of the three quality standards for recycled water in California, North Marin Water District’s recycled water is of the highest quality.
  • Reliable: While the majority of properties may be forced to cut down on their water use during drought periods, properties using recycled water will not have their water supply affected by drought.
  • Sustainable: Along with having a lower carbon footprint, recycling water uses less energy than developing other new sources of water. Additionally, recycled water offsets 10% of the potable water demand in Novato in summer months.
  • Cost savings: Customers who use recycled water do not have to pay the +8% seasonal rate now in place in non-residential water use from May through November,

Learn more about North Marin Water District’s Recycled Water Program.