At the urging of Chairman Bob Buster (1st District), the Riverside County Board of Supervisors considered getting involved in future regulation of the use of recycled water, particularly for citrus groves.

But in a November 4-1 vote (Buster opposing), his colleagues agreed to leave the issue alone and simply refer it to the county’s water task force.

Currently several state agencies, including the regional water resources control board and Department of Environmental Health, are involved in the regulation of recycled water.

Nevertheless some citrus growers in the western part of the county are objecting to being forced to use recycled water for grove irrigation. They are concerned that the boron concentrations and total dissolved salt concentrations would be high enough to damage their crop yield.

Much of the concern was generated from an article written by Dr. Christopher Amrhein, professor of soil chemistry and vice chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Riverside.

But several speakers disputed the data. For example, John V. Rossi, general manager of Western Metropolitan Water District, said, “Our recycled water is lower in salts that the water from the [Colorado River] aqueduct. It’s well within state limits.”

And he argued that recycled water plants in Riverside County are some of the most advanced in the country and world.

Although Buster stressed that his proposal was only to grant the board oversight on the specific issue, his colleagues disagreed.

Supervisor Marion Ashley, (5th District), who recommended that the issue be referred to the county’s water task, argued that this source of water is regulated by other agencies.

“We know a little about a lot, but agencies know a lot about little issues,” said Jeff Stone, 3rd District, explaining his reason for leaving the issue in the domain of the state and county health, environmental and water agencies.