The San Diego City Council voted 6-2 Tuesday to approve construction of a water recycling demonstration project.
Under a $6.6 million contract, contractor Camp Dresser McKee will design, build and operate an Advanced Water Purification Facility at the existing North City Water Reclamation Plant.
The water treated at the new facility will be tested to see whether it could be used as drinking water.
If the demonstration project is successful, a larger facility could provide as much as 16 million gallons per day of advanced treated water, which would be used to increase supplies at San Vicente Reservoir. The city is also currently studying whether additional reclamation facilities could be built in other locations in the region.
Water reclamation has the potential to provide a safe, reliable, drought-proof and cost effective water supply in the region, and decrease sewage discharge into the ocean. If the project proves successful, it could reduce the region’s dependence on imported water from the Colorado River and San Joaquin Delta.
“Orange County has been safely reclaiming 70 million gallons of wastewater to augment its water supplies through groundwater injection for several years,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of Coastkeeper. “The purification AWP will bring San Diego one step closer to following their lead and realizing our goal of water independence.”
Because San Diego would be the first city in California to use treated wastewater to augment reservoirs rather than groundwater, the city is required by the California Department of Public Health to undertake the demonstration project.