two maps each showing views of Petaluma's recycled water pipeline expansion, one for agriculture, the other for urban areasExpanding recycled water distribution

Funded in part by funded by the Department of Water Resources’ Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program, the Petaluma Valley GSA is helping to expand recycled water distribution in the Petaluma Valley basin over the next couple of years. The City of Petaluma has a multi-faceted program to increase recycled water use, including expanding the distribution system and increasing the treatment plants’ capacity to produce recycled water. The new pipeline is designed to reach agricultural customers by adding 14,000 linear feet of new lines on Adobe Road and to urban customers via 6,700 new linear feet of pipeline in three sections off the existing Maria Drive pipeline. Once the expansion is complete, it will increase recycled water distribution for the irrigation of eight parks, two schools, two business parks and six public landscapes. The agricultural expansion adds another 300 acre-feet per year for vineyard irrigation. The GSA is partnering with the city only on the urban recycled water pipeline extension that will provide drought conditions potable offset of 78 acre-feet per year.  

“This project will help Petaluma increase the reliability of our water supply and reduce our reliance on local groundwater and surface water,” said Chelsea Thompson, deputy director of Environmental Services at the City of Petaluma.

Offsetting groundwater pumping and surface water use

Increasing recycled water use helps increase groundwater sustainability by reducing groundwater pumping and potentially helping the aquifer to recharge. Urban use of recycled water includes irrigation for parks, golf courses, schools and public landscapes, and saves potable water and supplements the city’s potable water supply. Agricultural use of recycled water reduces the amount of groundwater needed for local farming, including dairy pastures and vineyards.

Petaluma first started distributing recycled water for agricultural use in the late 1970s. Over the years, the program has evolved and expanded. The Ellis Creek Wastewater Recycling Facility has been in operation since 2009, and processes wastewater through tertiary treatment via filtration and ultraviolet light disinfection.  The project includes increasing the Ellis Creek plant’s operational capacity for recycled water processing by 712 acre-feet per year.