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Sweetwater Authority breaks ground on plant expansion

State and local officials joined together Tuesday morning with Sweetwater Authority to officially break ground on the Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility expansion project.

The expansion, expected to be completed in late spring 2017, will double the facility’s current production of drinking water from 5 million gallons per day (mgd) to 10 mgd, through the addition of five new brackish groundwater wells.

“The project will effectively expand local sources of water, reducing our dependence on imported water,” said Authority Governing Board Chair Ernesto Zamudio. “The expansion improves the reliability of our local water supplies, which in turn improves water resources for our ratepayers.”

The $42 million project has received grant funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the state of California. The authority and the city of San Diego have partnered together to share the remaining costs not covered by grant funding, and will receive equal shares of the additional water produced.

The Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility began operating in 1999 drawing brackish groundwater from five wells for treatment by reverse osmosis for drinking water purposes. The plant was dedicated in honor of Richard “Dick” Reynolds, who was the general manager of Sweetwater Authority from 1992 to 1997 and had the vision to develop the concept for the project.

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