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El Dorado Hills reuses water to keep lawns green | News

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El Dorado Hills reuses water to keep lawns green
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In the midst of a severe four-year drought, a brown lawn has become a badge of honor, but for one community there's no shame in going green.

Much to the the envy of their neighbors, the homeowners in the gated Serrano in El Dorado Hills community haven't had to lose green, lush grass in the drought. The medians, grounds and golf course in and around the property also green.

Your first thought must be, these people are water wasters, but every drop of water used to keep the grass green has been used before.

"All your shower water, all your toilet water, dishwater, everything that goes down your sinks, comes to this facility and we clean it up," El Dorado Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor of Operations Alan Planje said.

At the treatment plant, 4.5 million gallons of recycled water travel through 79 miles of purple pipes a day. That is enough water to fill seven Olympic sized swimming pools. The treated water is sent back to homes and used to irrigate front and backyards.

"It is part of the culture, when homes are built in El Dorado Hills, they come with plumbing for recycled water," El Dorado Irrigation District Manger of Wastewater/Recycled Water Margaret Washko said.

Crews installed purple pipes at a new home in the Serrano development. The home will have a dual plumbing system, one for potable water and the other for recycled. A partnership between the developer and the El Dorado Irrigation District more than 20 years ago facilitated the rise of the water recycling program, one of the oldest in California.

"We were doing this before the drought," Planje explained. "But, it becomes a lot more critical during the drought, because it is a reuse of a very valuable commodity."

Chris Passey, Front Yard Supervisor for Serrano at El Dorado Hills Owner's Association, said all of the homes built in the development in the last two decades have the dual plumbing systems.

"It has an entirely separate meter than what the house meter would have, and EID bills it separately as well," Passey said.

Customers save about 35 percent on their water bills, but the savings go further. The 4.5 million gallons of recycled water pumped out a day, means 4.5 million of potable water doesn't have to be used. The water starts off brown and dirty, but after a 24 hour treatment process, it is hard to distinguish from regular drinking water.

There are plans to expand the program further. Currently 4,200 households in El Dorado Hills rely on recycling water for outdoor use.


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