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Recycled Water

Each gallon of recycled water that is used to irrigate parks, street medians, freeway landscaping, and golf courses saves a gallon of drinking water.  The city produces recycled water by boosting the treatment of wastewater with additional filtration and disinfection (to meet State of California regulations) which makes it usable for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes. A gallon of recycled water is also about 16 percent cheaper than a gallon of potable water, because the city controls the production. 

**Recycled water is exempt from the drought watering restriction**

  • Signs must be posted in areas where recycled water is used to indicate it is not safe to drink.
  • Recycled pipes, valves and sprinkler heads are easily recognizable by their purple color.

Recycled vs. Drinking Water

Although recycled water is a highly treated product, it is not treated to the same standards as drinking water delivered to homes and businesses. For this reason, conditions for the use of recycled water have been established. Recycled water is not suitable for drinking.


  • Recycled water customers must post informational signs, mark sprinkler heads, pipes and other appurtances, and ensure there are no cross-connections between drinking (potable) and recycled water systems.
  • Irrigating with recycled water is generally allowed before 6 a.m. and after 10 p.m. This minimizes misting and evaporation for more effective irrigation. It also minimizes the chance of public contact.  Recycled water is exempt from the drought watering restriction.
  • Recycled water contains nitrogen and phosphorus which can provide a fertilizer benefit. However, the salt level is slightly elevated, so depending on soil and plant characteristics, periodic overwatering, also known as leaching, may be necessary.

City uses

The City of Carlsbad has approximately 89 miles of recycled distribution pipeline. This distribution system currently supplies more than 955 recycled points of connection.

The sites served by recycled water include:

  • La Costa Golf Course, Park Hyatt Resort and Golf Course
  • The Crossings @ Carlsbad Golf Course
  • Legoland California
  • Grand Pacific Palisades Hotel
  • Karl Strauss Brewery

Recycled water is also supplied to many of the City of Carlsbad parks, median strips, shopping areas, freeway landscaping and "common areas" of many homeowner associations.

Treatment Location

Recycled water distributed by the water district is supplied by three different sources: