Salinity Management Guide
National Water Research Institute
Southwest Membrane Operator Association
Multi-State Salinity Coalition



SCSC Graduate Fellowship Awarded for 2018-2020  

SCSC and the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) are pleased to announce that the 2018-2020 NWRI-SCSC Graduate Fellowship has been awarded to Amninder Singh, a doctoral student at University of California, Riverside. Mr. Singh is pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, with a focus on water and soil, under the supervision of Dr. Amir Haghverdi. The project focuses on optimizing irrigation practices when recycled water, which usually has a higher salt content than traditional potable water sources, is used. The goals of the research include conserving water resources, maintaining turf quality, and sustaining the health of the soil. Click here to learn more about the SCSC Fellowship Program.

Just Published: Study to Evaluate Long-Term Trends in TDS  

  • Presentation to the SCSC Board of Directors on March 1, 2018 (Download the PDF)
  • Presentation to the Southern California Alliance of POTWs on May 31, 2018 (Download the PDF)

SCSC is pleased to share the final report on the Study to Evaluate Long-Term Trends and Variations in the Average Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Concentration in Wastewater and Recycled Water.  SCSC is administered by NWRI.

The study, commissioned by SCSC, was conducted by the consultant company Daniel B. Stephens & Associates, Inc., whose project team evaluated how salinity in the Southern California wastewater stream has changed during the past 20 years.  The purpose of this effort is to (1) Evaluate long-term trends for salinity in wastewater and recycled water and (2) Assess how periodic droughts and various conservation measures may influence these trends. The investigation will characterize and quantify these relationships based on a series of case studies focused on service areas in southern California. SCSC will not advocate for a policy outcome but, rather, is looking for objective analysis to improve water resource management decisions across a spectrum of issues in light of the potential for climate change to affect water quality parameters.

SCSC member agencies are concerned with this trend because removing salt from wastewater is an energy-intensive and expensive process, and the concentration of salt in Southern California is expected to increase as the climate warms and population grows.  Primary findings of the study, based on data provided by Southern California water and wastewater utilities, include:

  • TDS in wastewater influent and effluent has trended upward over the last several decades.
  • Indoor water use decreased from 80–110 gallon per capita per day (gpcd) in the 1990s to 50–70 gpcd by 2016.
  • Indoor water conservation has increased TDS in the wastewater stream.  For every 1 gpcd decline in indoor water use, the wastewater TDS increases by approximately 1.5 mg/L.

Download the report here:

For questions on this study, contact Suzanne Sharkey, Water Resources Scientist and Project Manager, at or (714) 378-8236.

White Paper on Salinity in Irrigation Water (Feb 2018)

Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC) and WateReuse California sponsored a White Paper on “Accounting for Salinity Leaching in the Application of Recycled Water for Landscape Irrigation,” released in February 2018.  This White Paper was designed to provide science-based guidance to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on how much recycled water should be used for landscape irrigation to reduce negative effects of salinity on plant and soil health.  The authors of the White Paper are Dr. Amir Haghverdi and Dr. Laosheng Wu, both of the University of California, Riverside. Download the report here.

Applications for SCSC Graduate Fellowship Due March 1, 2018  

SCSC accepted applications for the SCSC-NWRI graduate fellowship program's 2018-2020 funding cycle until March 1, 2018. A fellowship of up to $10,000 per year for two years may be awarded to a graduate student conducting research that addresses the critical need to remove or reduce salts from water supplies in Southern California. Full-time graduate students attending a college or university in Southern California are eligible to apply. Research topics may include: Concentrate management, Institutional and regulatory/policy issues, Economic analysis, Innovative treatment technologies, Regional and watershed planning solutions, and Public education/awareness. The application process is managed by NWRI, so for more information, please visit the NWRI fellowship web page at

2016 Salinity Management Summit: Presentations

The Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC) partnered with National Water Research Institute (NWRI) and Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) to present the Southern California Salinity Management Summit on November 17, 2016, at Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles. 

The Summit provided a forum for water and wastewater agencies in Southern California to share current practices for managing salinity in the water supply and to discuss how the current drought has affected water quality in California. Visit the event web page to download PDFs of the slides presented at the Summit.

SCSC Graduate Fellowship Awarded for 2016-2018

SCSC and the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) are pleased to announce that the 2016-2018 SCSC-NWRI Graduate Fellowship has been awarded to Ryan Gustafson, a doctoral student at University of Southern California. Mr. Gustafson is pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering under the supervision of Professor Amy Childress. His research focuses on the use of membrane distillation (MD), a thermally driven process that can be powered by alternative energy sources such as waste heat or solar thermal energy. Click here to learn more about the SCSC Fellowship Program.

Salinity Management Study Workshop - Report and Presentations

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and SCSC held a workshop on June 1, 2012, to facilitate and inform an update of the 1999 Salinity Management Study.  Presentations and background material from the workshop are now available. Click here for more information about the workshop.

The "Salinity Management Study Update Workshop" report summarizes the outcome of the workshop, and includes results from the pre-workshop survey, summary of the working group discussions, and recommendations for addresssing salinity management challenges and issues. Click here to download the report (2 MB PDF).


Video on Salinity Issues in Southern California (5 minutes!)

Click on the video below to learn more about salinity issues and SCSC.


Final Project Report on "Automatic Water Softener Rebate Program-Phase II: Public Outreach Program" (2010)

This report describes details efforts taken by the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District of Los Angeles County to develop and implement a successful residential automatic water softener rebate and outreach program.  Included in the report are activities and lessons learned from the outreach process, as well as how these lessons continue to direct outreach efforts in the community.

Click here to download the 107-page report (7 MB file).

Final Project Report on "Desalination Recovery Enhancement and Concentrate Management Study – Phase II" (2010)

This report describes the outcomes of Phase II of a pilot project aimed at reducing brine volumes discharged to the Santa Ana Regional Interceptor (SARI) from local desalters. The project incorporated testing of chemical softening, followed by secondary reverse osmosis (RO) and electrodialysis reversal (EDR) to reduce brine volume and produce additional potable water.

For Phase II, lessons learned were incorporated into the design and operation of a more robust system that would allow for longer uninterrupted RO and EDR operation. In addition, a major goal included the testing and analysis of lime softening sludge, as well as evaluating sludge dewatering and disposal options.

Click here to download the 154-page report (6 MB file).

Proposed Guidelines for Salinity/Nutrient Management Planning in the San Diego Region (2010)

SCSC and the San Diego County Water Authority have developed “Proposed Guidelines for Salinity/Nutrient Management Planning in the San Diego Region,” which provide a standardized approach and framework for developing salinity/nutrient management plans.  These guidelines were endorsed by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Diego Region in November 2010. 

The guidelines include sections on constituents of concern, aquifer characterization, proposed planning approach and priorities, and salinity management tasks. To download the 102-page guidelines, please click here

Reports Available for Southern California Regional Brine-Concentrate Management Study-Phase I

The following reports based off of the Southern California Regional Brine-Concentrate Management Study-Phase 1 are now available at the Bureau of Reclamation’s website:

  • Executive Summary of the Southern California Regional Brine-Concentrate Management Study-Phase I
  • Survey of Brine-Concentrate Landscape Report
  • Identification of Regulatory Issues and Trends Report
  • Review of Secondary and Emerging Constituents Report
  • Identification of Institutional Issues Report
  • Evaluation of Brine-Concentrate and Disposal Options Report
  • Identification of Brine-Concentrate Pilot/Demonstrative Projects Report

The reports are available for download at

Summary from the Oct. 2009 Salinity Management Plan Implementation Workshop, San Diego Region - Available to Download

A 27-page summary of the “Salinity Management Plan Implementation Workshop” held on October 6, 2009, in  San Diego, CA, which discussed salinity management issues within the San Diego Region, is now available to download.  The summary includes a workshop overview, discussion of presentations, stakeholder input, and next steps. 

Major issues addressed in the summary include: developing salt and nutrient management plans, basin plan water quality standards, developing new water supplies, and motivation for participating. To access the summary, please click here.

Sponsors of the workshop included San Diego County Water Authority; Regional Water Quality Board, San Diego Region; and SCSC. 

Fact SheetSCSC Salinity Fact Sheet - Available to Download

In August 2009, SCSC developed a Salinity Fact Sheet on “Salinity and Water Softeners” to help inform the discussion around Assembly Bill 1366, which is intended to restrict the use of self-regenerating water softeners to help control salinity in our water supplies.

The 2-page SCSC Face Sheet provides information on what is salinity, the impacts of salinity, how salinity inhibits water recycling, how water softeners increase salinity, and possible options in changing or eliminating the use of residential self-regenerating water softeners. 

To view or download the Salinity Fact Sheet, please click here.

Seminar cover

Summary from the San Diego Region Salinity Seminar - Available to Download

Salinity management is a major water challenge for Southern California and the Southwest. Without appropriate salinity management efforts, increasing salinity levels will significantly impact our communities.

The Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC) held a “Salinity Seminar” on June 18, 2008, in San Diego, California, to raise awareness and engage water and wastewater agencies and stakeholders on salinity issues in the San Diego region.

The 28-page summary from the San Diego Region Salinity Seminar is now available. To view or download the Salinity Seminar Presentations - click here.

salt guide coverSalinity Management Guide Is Available Online or as a CD-ROM

Now available are complimentary copies of the Salinity Management Guide, a new tool showing how recycled water can be safely used for landscape irrigation and that salinity can be addressed through proper management strategies.

Developed for landscape designers, park managers and others, seeking to irrigate a landscape with recycled water or other water of elevated salinity, the Salinity Management Guide covers topics that include: salinity and related concepts, designing and redesigning landscapes, and how to solve problems related to plants, water or soil.

To view the interactive Guide on the web, click here.