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The King County Recycled Water Program employs state-of-the-art technologies to reduce reliance on discharging to Puget Sound. Recycling water protects our aquatic environment and fresh water resources. In the past, the only option for this crystal-clear water was to put it into Puget Sound or in rivers and lakes. Wasting this resource puts more pressure on local fresh water. With a continuous supply of high-quality recycled water, it does not make sense to use billions of gallons of precious drinking water to irrigate landscaping or crops or for water-intensive industrial processes.

Locally, our recycled water has been safely and responsibly used since 1997 for irrigation and industrial purposes. Globally, recycled water has been used for crop irrigation for more than 100 years and for drinking water augmentation for more than 40 years. King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division uses recycled water to cool machinery and buildings at the South and West Point Treatment Plants — effectively saving $650,000 on annual water bills and millions of gallons of drinkable water.

Industrial water

A valuable "liquid" asset

Companies around the world are discovering that using recycled water for industrial purposes helps achieve sustainable business principles and practices and improve their “triple bottom line.” King County Wastewater Treatment Division’s treatment plants save about 300 million gallons of drinking water every year by using recycled water for plant operations. Recycled water provides companies with long term solutions for a reliable, high-quality water supply that can be cost competitive with conventional water supplies. Recycled water is recognized by environmental rating programs like LEED and Salmon Safe. The Brightwater Environmental Education Center achieved LEED Platinum, the highest possible certification, with help from King County recycled water that provides water for irrigation and toilet flushing.

Irrigation Water

A proven safety track record

If you have eaten fresh fruits or vegetables purchased from a large chain grocer, there is little doubt you have eaten produce irrigated with recycled water. Great swaths of California and Florida are devoted to growing food crops - such as strawberries, lettuce and artichokes - that are irrigated with highly-treated recycled water with the same level of quality as the water  produced in King County.

rw-carsIn 1998, King County Parks and the City of Tukwila pioneered the use of recycled water in this region, and they continue to use the crystal-clear and odor-free water to irrigate athletic fields. For decades throughout the United States, recycled water has been safely used to irrigate public facilities such as school grounds, athletic fields, golf courses, parks and common areas of residential neighborhoods. There have not been any reported cases of illness or allergies as a result of its use for landscape or agricultural irrigation.

Irrigation is among the highest and best uses for recycled water because it:

  • Takes advantage of nutrients present in the water
  • Eliminates or lessens the need for fertilizers
  • Reduces nutrient-loading into sensitive aquatic environments
  • Is a reliable, drought-proof water source

Wetland water

Benefits wildlife and people

King County partnered with environmental conservation group, Ducks Unlimited, to improve a wetland in the Chinook Bend Natural Area. With the help of recycled water, the Chinook Bend site was transformed from a degraded area to fifty-eight acres that provide a healthier environment for migratory and resident birds and other wildlife. The area also enhances opportunities for people to walk and enjoy the great outdoors.

Wetland Water is a shining example of recycled water treated for its specific use. King County Wetland Water is given additional treatment to limit nutrients entering the wetland ecosystem. Nutrients are naturally occurring in Class “A” recycled water. And while irrigators welcome these nutrients because they promote robust plant growth, those same nutrients are not necessarily healthy for wetland habitat. Because of this advanced treatment, we are proud to say that other than rain water, our crystal-clear and odor-free recycled water is likely the cleanest water that flows to the Chinook Bend Natural Area.

For more information about the recycled water program, please contact us at: