Cities and water districts in East County, North County and the South Bay have lined up to oppose the city of San Diego’s ambitious plans to turn sewage into drinkable water.
For years, San Diego has aimed to make recycled water drinkable and widespread.
The idea used to face opposition from the public, who thought it was yucky. Two years ago, the drought and changes in public opinion seemed to remove any obstacles, so the city decided it could double the size of the three-part project’s first phrase.
Now the project is branded Pure Water, and the city hopes to produce 30 million gallons per day of recycled water by 2022. But the drought made sewage harder to come by and more valuable. As a result, costs for the project have risen.
But the mayors of Coronado and Chula Vista, city council members in Poway and Lemon Grove, and officials from water agencies in San Diego’s eastern and southern suburbs are all trying to rein in the project.
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Also, what is 30 million gallons/day in context of San Diego use? What percentage of San Diego total water use would this be?
Also, how much is 3 billion in context of our current expenditure on water?
How much would this save in the long run to the tax payer?
How will this affect us positively if global warming creates more shortages? How much will water cost in the future?
Israel and Astronauts having been recycling water for decades. Why is San Diego afraid of a proven technology?
@Sam Litvin At this point in time, it's not fear of proven technology but concerns about the substantial costs that would be added by speeding up and expanding the reclamation project, and the additional cost to upgrade the Pt. Loma plant if required goals cannot be reached due to lower flows of wastewater (not all of which is from toilets).
Sure, go ahead and recycle the sewer water. The water for San Diego is practically undrinkable anyway. I have to run it through a D.I. water purifier at home anyway.
Great Draft EIR Letter by the Public Utility Department (PUD) on the City of San Diego's historic Water Rights of the Pueblo Watershed, San Diego Watershed, Penasquitos Watershed, etc.
The City of San Diego owns this wonderful rainfall, including Surface Waters, and Ground Waters upsteam of San Diego Bay.
“ We've had waivers of secondary treatment at Point Loma for going on 20 years now, no reason to believe they won't continue.” Really Marco? How many law suits have you filed to stop those waivers and force secondary upgrades? Whining bunch of politicians? Really? This from a two faced ambulance chaser in violation of the Cooperative Agreement you signed. No one is whining about anything. I for one will not accept the extortion you are thrusting on wastewater ratepayers in pursuit of your narrow visioned agenda and future paychecks. There are engineering considerations that could include secondary upgrades to Point Loma that San Diego has not considered and will not talk to us about. But since you don't live in this service area and won't pay this bill I guess that doesn't concern you.
Stop pretending that we will continue to get waivers for Point Loma. You didn't keep to you word on the Cooperative Agreement and no one believes that you won't be back in 5 years to file another law suit against the next waiver or extort more money out of wastewater ratepayers. Stop deflecting from the fact that Pure Water was intended as a means to eliminating those waivers in the form of permanent secondary equivalency. It was not meant to perpetuate waivers. Your violation of the cooperative agreement in favor of advanced staging and spending eliminates the consumers a built in off-ramp in 2019 in your own agreement. If the “act of congress” needed for secondary equivalency doesn't become a reality, ratepayers lose that off-ramp essential to avoiding 2 billion dollars in unnecessary spending. The lose of that ability to right size the system and allocate equitable cost sharing is irresponsible and criminal. There are environmentally responsible alternatives that have not been explored. What responsible environmentalist wouldn't want to explore an alternative that included purification and secondary upgrades? There are savings to wastewater ratepayers to be had if secondary upgrades become mandatory but not without the 2109 off-ramp before San Diego builds their water project at wastewater ratepayers expense.
Just FYI about "...It wants to build a new pump station in Mission Valley ....."
The plan is to buy the property that the Humane Society uses currently.
Not sure who came up with this brilliant idea to put a pump station less than 100 feet from people's homes ....
@Keith Hartz what harm would a pump station be to people's homes?
Their is too much uncertainty to warrant in investment of this amount. It seems that the first goal should be to determine how clean our sewage discharges must be, and then determine what must be done to meet those requirements. After that, we'll be in a position to decide whether "toilet to tap" makes economic, ecological and environmental sense. Along the way, we should be mindful that the cost of desalinization is likely to fall in the coming decades, and there are many water users in San Diego who do not require drinking water to meet their needs, primarily farmers, golf courses and parks, who could use recycled water very conveniently, without any threats to public health.
My point is that we do not know enough to make an investment of this magnitude at the present time.
@g kelly Israel recycles over 86% of its water and space station 100%, it's a pretty proven technology.
@g kelly Your knowledge on this topic is more than 20 years out of date. The technology is tested and proven, and is upgraded as newer technology is developed. Federal and State regulations require repurified wastewater to potable standards to meet specific criteria. "Toilet to tap" (although only a small part of wastewater is actually from toilets - most is from sinks, tubs, washing machines, etc.) is already here and is meeting the requirements established by the regulations.
Furthermore, there are other cities in the U.S. and abroad which already are providing potable repurified wastewater to consumers.
The big issue now is $$$ to expand the existing wastewater reclamation facilities and ensuring that San Diego meets existing legal obligations for redirecting a specified amount of wastewater away from the Pt. Loma Plant for reclamation. Failure to do so could lead to losing the Waiver and having to invest billions in expanding the Pt. Loma Plant where there is no room to expand. There are a lot of moving parts that have to work together but, in the long run, both water and money are saved by spending the money to achieve the goals.
We've had waivers of secondary treatment at Point Loma for going on 20 years now, and there's no reason to believe they won't continue. There has never been a regulatory unease with waivers; rather, the last two large ones (Honolulu and Orange County) were phased out because the agencies couldn't show an ability to continue meeting the relevant waiver standards. Here in San Diego, we've always been in the same boat. If we can't meet the waiver standards, upgrades to the Point Loma plant will be required. That won't change with "secondary equivalency" standards that are being sought by these other cities. Put another way, the perceived assurances being sought by these cities to not have to spend money on upgrading Point Loma so long as the Pure Water project is moving forward would not actually exist if the discharges were harming the environment. In the end, I chalk up this whining to a bunch of politicians who were willing to support a good project in theory and then got cold feet when they had to put their money where their mouths were. Enough delay. Time to start investing wisely and aggressively in future water independence.
In spite of the rain this winter, we live in a desert. We are also at the end of the pipe for water from Northern California and lastly, the Metropolitan Water District (MWA) is not our friend. San Diego needs to become water independent. We need to do this for our own survival. I know things like recycling and desal are expensive, but they are also necessary. Think of them as an investment in our future. In buying now we are getting this capacity at its cheapest price, water costs will only go up in the future.
We should have two more desal plants, one in mid county and another in South Bay. One possible way to reduce the cost of recycling water is to treat it only as much as needed for agriculture. Much of our county's water needs are from our agribusinesses, they don't need drinking water purity. I suspect that much of the cost of recycling is in that last bit to get from 'acceptable' to 'drinking water.'
Unless climate change move us into the tropics we are looking at water scarcity as far as the eye can see. We should be investing in our future now.