Recycling wastewater and saving drinking water in California

Giving wastewater a second life – once it has been treated – to limit water imports: this is what SUEZ is doing in southern California, in the United States. Located in a part of the world that has suffered from droughts since the 1970s, and where 70% of the water consumed is imported, the Edward C. Little wastewater recycling plant, operated by SUEZ, can produce 150,000 m3 of water every day for non-domestic uses.
The mission

Replacing one half of imported drinking water with recycled water

At the end of the 20th century, the West Basin Municipal Water District launched an ambitious water recycling program to reduce its dependence on imported drinking water, and to ensure that the region’s well-being would no longer depend on the hazards of nature after two decades of intermittent drought conditions.

Among its key achievements was the construction of the Edward C. Little wastewater recycling plant, operated and maintained for the last 27 years by SUEZ in the City of El Segundo, a coastal town in the Los Angeles County, along the famous Santa Monica bay.

Our solution

Treating wastewater so that it can be reused while protecting the environment

The combination of our advanced technologies for treating wastewater – ultraviolet wastewater treatment, reverse osmosis and microfiltration – produces water of such high quality that the treated wastewater can be reused. The pioneering Edward C. Little plant in West Basin has recycled over 200 billion gallons of water since 1990. This represents a significant saving on imported water and the preservation of natural water resources.

The West Basin Municipal Water District treatment facilities are the only ones in the world that can produce five different quality types of recycled water, which are “fit for purpose”. Its 150,000 m3 of treated wastewater meets the specific needs of municipal, commercial and industrial customers in the Los Angeles County by:

  • supplying nitrified water to refineries cooling towers;
  • recharging the aquifer with advanced treated water through groundwater injection;
  • supplying low and high-pressure boiler feed water to refineries;
  • supplying tertiary disinfected water for irrigation uses.


The plant also produces 45,000 m3 of advanced treated water through ultraviolet wastewater treatment, reverse osmosis and microfiltration which is injected on more than 100 wells along the coast every day to recharge the local aquifer and protect the South Bay coastal groundwater from any intrusion of salt water from the Pacific Ocean.

150 000
of water recycled per day
different qualities of recycled water
45 000
of reservoir water to prevent salt water intrusion
The results

A virtuous loop of water reuse and response to water stress

Lorenzo Guidolin, the site Operations Director emphasises that at “the Edward C. Little Recycling Facility, our customer’s ambitious policy and its ability to mobilise behind its projects, combined with our ability to respond to the challenges of operating the advanced technologies used in the plant on raw water of highly variable quality, have reduced drinking water imports from 80% to 60% of total demand.” This represents a real success in this arid region, where the population has grown significantly in the last few decades.

The Edward C. Little facility has thus become a leading example of an innovative approach to save water resources, by making water reuse a major solution for the future.

from 80 to 60
Reduction of drinking water imports

Watch the interviews of Gloria Gray, Member of the Board of the West Basin Municipal Water District, and of Lorenzo Guidolin, the site Operations Director

#FollowTheWater in America

Credit: SUEZ group