San Diego Pure Water Project Passes City Council Vote

On November 18, 2014, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to approve the advancement of the Pure Water San Diego project by submitting an application to renew the modified federal permit for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant and approving a cooperative agreement with San Diego Coastkeeper, San Diego County Surfrider, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, and San Diego Audubon Society.

Pure Water San Diego project will result in enough recycled purified wastewater to account for 30 percent of San Diego’s drinking water needs by 2035, starting production at 15 MGD by 2023 and eventually producing 83 MGD by 2035.

Under the proposal, San Diego would divert about 100 MGD from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, eliminating the need to upgrade the plant.  The Pure Water Project will work to develop a local source of drinking water, created by recycling wastewater, to lessen dependence on imported water and combat water supply reliability challenges, including recurring drought conditions. San Diego currently imports 85% of its water from the Colorado River and Northern California. If properly implemented, this project could provide a new, stable source of water for the drought-prone city, lowering the amount of imported water substantially.

In 2007, the San Diego City Council authorized the Water Purification Demonstration Project (Demonstration Project) to determine the feasibility of turning wastewater into purified water that could be sent to a reservoir and later distributed as drinking water. By 2013, the Demonstration Project resulted in a facility able to produce one million gallons of purified water per day. The recycled water met all federal and state drinking water standards, proving to provide a source of drinking water of higher quality than current supplies. The California Department of Public Health and San Diego Regional Water Board granted conceptual approval of the reservoir augmentation plan.

The capital cost for the project is $2.5 to $3 billion, and the cost for the water is estimated to be $1,700/AF to $1,900/AF.

The project has received widespread support from business associations, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

Written by Stratecon Staff