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What is the difference between recycled, reclaimed, potable and non-potable water?
Cup of water

The words recycled, reclaimed, potable and non-potable are used frequently in discussions regarding water resources, but what do they really mean? As common terminologies, it is important to understand the differences between them and how each of them play a role in the City’s water applications.


These terms are generally used interchangeably and which word is used depends on the region. Recycled or reclaimed water is water that is used more than one time before it passes back into the natural water cycle. Typically, the phrase “recycled water” is used to refer to the reuse of treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as: agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, or replenishing a groundwater basin (referred to as groundwater recharge).


The phrase “potable” water is used to describe water that is suitable for human consumption. Contrarily, “non-potable” defines the opposite. Non-potable water is water that is not of drinking water quality, but which may still be used for many other purposes, depending on its level of quality.

Potable water sources largely come from deep wells that tap into the aquifer or from surface water sources that have been treated for contaminants. Non-potable water sources can vary from shallower wells that don’t meet water quality requirements but also applies to recycled (or reclaimed) water sources, by definition.

To learn more about the City of Turlock’s water resources and the various applications of use in the community, visit the City’s website at or contact the Municipal Services Department at (209) 668-5590. Brought to you by the City of Turlock Municipal Services Department.



Plant wisely: Grouping plants according to their watering needs saves a substantial amount of water.