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EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA today released a draft plan to advance water reuse nationally at the WateReuse Association Symposium in San Diego.

The National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies 46 proposed actions organized around 10 strategic objectives, including leadership and collaboration, to support the implementation of water reuse.

“Forty states anticipate experiencing fresh water shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade,” said David Ross, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”

The draft plan incorporates federal, state, tribal and local water perspectives and highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have worked for decades to increase the region’s water supply reliability through supply diversification, and the Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to submit comments to the EPA before the draft was released.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up more than one-quarter of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

National Water Reuse Action Plan a ‘game changer’

The draft plan will be open for public comment for 90 days following its publication to the Federal Register. During that period, EPA will solicit feedback about how to prioritize and implement the proposed actions.

EPA’s goal is to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse to bolster the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources, according to the agency.

“The National Water Reuse Action Plan will be a game changer,” said Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association. “Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply – essential for livable communities, healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life.”

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA released a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan on September 10, 2019 in San Diego. Graphic: EPA

San Diego County agencies developing water reuse and recycling

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San DiegoPadre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

Padre Dam’s demonstration project is evaluating the feasibility of the East County Advanced Water Purification Program. Since March 2015, the pilot program has produced approximately 100,000 gallons of purified water each day. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan, released in July 2019. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The EPA Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan cites examples from California water agencies. Graphic: EPA

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

California Moves To Boost Recycled Water

A new plan recommends four strategies to advance water reuse in California over the next three decades – an important part of both the state and regional water resilience portfolio.

The California WateReuse Action Plan includes a comprehensive set of proposed actions that will more than double the use of water recycling in California and help prepare the state for the impacts of climate change, according to WateReuse California, which released the plan in July.

But getting to that goal will require several steps, including: Completing research to advance water recycling and potable reuse; developing and streamlining recycled water regulations and permitting; increasing grant and loan opportunities to expand recycled water infrastructure; and, implementing integrated regional planning.

The U.S. EPA is developing a similar plan to advance water reuse nationwide.

California WateReuse Action Plan

The California WateReuse Action Plan recommends strategies for increasing water recycling statewide. Graphic: WateReuse California

San Diego water agencies collaborate on plan

Recycled water is expected to be the next major source of local water supply for the San Diego region – and the region has a long history of working together toward that goal.

The San Diego County Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to provide feedback on the plan’s development.

“We appreciate how this new plan aims to increase water supply diversification, including recycled water,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist with the Water Authority, and a contributor to the final action plan.

“Within the next 15 years, potable reuse and recycled water is projected to make up more than a quarter of San Diego County’s supply, but reaching our potential will depend in part on statewide implementation of the plan’s key findings,” Dobalian said.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up 26% of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Water Resilience Portfolio

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San Diego, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

National water reuse action plan

At the national level, EPA is also developing a Water Reuse Action Plan, or WRAP, to advance water reuse. The Water Authority met with its member agencies and submitted comments to the U.S. EPA for the WRAP.

A draft WRAP is expected to be released by the federal agency at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-11 in San Diego.

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

WateReuse California Symposium Sept. 8-10 in San Diego

The U.S. EPA plans to release a draft Water Reuse Action Plan to advance water reuse, at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-10 in San Diego.

California Attorney General Says EPA Attempt To Limit Clean Water Act Oversight Is Unlawful

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a coalition of 14 states and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, on Friday filed a comment letter denouncing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidance that attempts to roll back state involvement in the permitting of federal projects under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Section 401 and other provisions of the Clean Water Act preserve states’ authority to protect the quality of the waters within their borders. In the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra asserts that EPA’s guidance, which implements President Trump’s April 2019 Executive Order, is unlawful, directly contravenes both the language and intent of the Clean Water Act, and undermines state authority recognized under the Clean Water Act.

San Diego Company Awarded EPA Grant To Develop Water Quality Testing Tech

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it awarded a $100,000 contract to a San Diego-based technology company to develop technology to monitor water quality. The grant, awarded to 2W iTech LLC, is one of nearly two dozen awarded by the EPA through its Small Business Innovation Research program. The EPA awarded grants worth a combined $2.3 million to 21 companies across the country to develop technologies to improve environmental and human health, monitor air and water quality and clean contaminated areas. With its grant, 2W iTech will develop a low-cost method to identify trace amounts of perfluoroalkyl substances in water at a rate as small as 10 parts per trillion.

Vallecitos Water District Wastewater Collection Systems workers Raul Rodarte (left) and David Saavedra conduct smoke testing. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Smokes Out Wastewater System Problems

Problems in wastewater systems can’t hide behind a smokescreen at the Vallecitos Water District. The district’s Systems Collection Department routinely performs “smoke testing” of its wastewater system. This technique can easily locate flows caused by broken or incorrectly installed sewer pipes, lateral connections, or missing/broken clean-out caps.

The test is performed by introducing smoke, comprised primarily of steam, through a device similar to a fog generating machine, into the wastewater systems. Staff can see if smoke comes out of the system through any leaks or breaches.

“We don’t want clean rainwater entering the sanitary sewer system, because we don’t want to treat clean water down at the treatment plant,” said Matthew Thompson, VWD wastewater collection worker. “We also don’t want to have an open system in case of an emergency, where liquids could exit the system.”

Residents are notified prior to any smoke testing in their neighborhood. The use of the smoke is an approved practice by the U.S. EPA and has no adverse health effects. The smoke used by VWD is non-toxic and dissipates quickly. During the testing process, residents can assist by monitoring the plumbing systems inside their homes to see if they have any internal problems.

Watch how the smoke testing process works in this video.

Crews inject smoke into the sewer system. It bypasses the living quarters of each residence before rising out of vents located on the roof. This is what crews are looking for, because it’s a good indicator there are no illegal hookups to the sewer. Smoke may also escape if the private sewer lateral clean-out is missing its cap.

If smoke emits from the home’s storm drain system or front yard, it could mean there is a possible illegal system connection, or an opening to the sewer that can lead to surplus water levels and subsequent sewer spills.

Field crews take care of any problems that may arise during testing. Residents are notified to disconnect illegal connections or face potential future fines. While the district does not maintain the plumbing inside homes, including the sewer lateral or the clean out, district crews will make simple, inexpensive repairs on the spot as a service to their customers. A doorhanger is left after any quick-fix is completed.

Vallecitos Water District Wastewater Collection Systems workers Dennis Richardson (standing) and David Saavedra inject smoke into the sewer system. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Smoke testing

Vallecitos Water District Wastewater Collection Systems workers Dennis Richardson (standing) and David Saavedra inject smoke into the sewer system. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“Our ultimate goal is to make the customer happy, and that there is no interrupted service,” said Thompson. “If you see any of the wastewater crew out in the street, feel free to come talk to us and ask us what we’re doing. We’d love to share how we’re helping the system flow.”

In some cases, customers identify sewer problems themselves. District Systems Collection Department staff then determine the source of any potential problems, and how to resolve those problems.

Smoke testing isn’t new, but it might catch residents off guard. It has been used since the 1950s. For more than 10 years, smoke testing has proved to be a valuable ally in sewer maintenance. The Vallecitos Water District performs a minimum of four tests annually to keep its system operating at the optimum level.

 

EPA Awards $614M Loan To Bolster San Diego Water Project

San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer joined the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to officially accept a $614 million federal loan to help finance the first phase of Pure Water San Diego — an innovative water recycling program that will provide one-third of the city’s drinking supply by 2035. “This federal funding is validation that our Pure Water Program is cutting edge technology and a worthy investment for San Diego’s future water independence,” Faulconer said. “This is going to be one of the most significant infrastructure projects in San Diego history and will deliver clean, reliable water to our residents for decades to come.”

EPA Gives $614-million Loan To San Diego For Pure Water Project Development

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer accepted a nine- figure loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday to help the city finance phase one of the Pure Water San Diego water recycling program. Faulconer joined EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to formally claim the $614 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan. The city estimates that the first phase of the program will cost roughly $1.4 billion, including funding from the loan.

EPA Recognizes 2018 WaterSense Partners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is honoring 20 water utilities, manufacturers, builders and organizations for protecting the environment by creating and promoting WaterSense-labeled fixtures, homes and programs. EPA’s WaterSense partners have helped Americans save more than 2.7 trillion gallons of water and $63.8 billion on utility bills since 2006.

San Diego County Water Authority Logo Stacked Tagline

Water Authority Wins 2018 WaterSense Excellence Award

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today recognized the San Diego County Water Authority with a 2018 WaterSense Excellence Award for advancing water efficiency through its Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) program. The Water Authority received one of 21 WaterSense awards presented at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas.

Trump Administration Names Former Oil Spokesman Who Led “Lock Her Up” Chants Against Hillary Clinton As EPA Chief for West Coast

The Trump administration on Friday named Mike Stoker, a Santa Barbara County attorney and former oil company spokesman who some credit with coining the “lock her up!” chants against Hillary Clinton at the Republican Convention in 2016, as the new West Coast head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Stoker will lead the U.S EPA Region 9 office, which is based in San Francisco. The office oversees a wide variety of subjects, from air pollution fines against oil refineries to drinking water issues and wetlands permits for developers in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands.