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People Should Drink Way More Recycled Wastewater

ON A DUSTY hilltop in San Diego, the drinking water of the future courses through a wildly complicated and very loud jumble of tanks, pipes, and cylinders. Here at the North City Water Reclamation Plant, very not-drinkable wastewater is turned into a liquid so pure it would actually wreak havoc on your body if you imbibed it without further treatment.

First the system hits the wastewater with ozone, which destroys bacteria and viruses. Then it pumps the water through filters packed with coal granules that trap organic solids. Next, the water passes through fine membranes that snag any remaining solids and microbes. “The pores are so small, you can’t see them except with a really powerful microscope,” says Amy Dorman, deputy director of Pure Water San Diego, the city’s initiative to reduce its reliance on water imported from afar. “Basically, they only allow the water molecules to get through.”

Why Southern California Fears Too Much Water Conservation

As Gov. Gavin Newsom weighs new mandatory drought restrictions, Southern California leaders fear cuts in urban water use could force already sky-high water bills ever higher.

Unlike much of Northern and Central California, the region isn’t hurting for water, yet. Top water officials insist they have enough supplies for at least one more hot summer, perhaps two.

San Diego’s Water Recyclers and High Bill Payers Draw Pool Noodles

The cost of getting water from the drought-stressed Colorado River is spiraling and parts of San Diego County with some of the highest bills and big water recycling projects on the horizon seem to be drawing pool noodles together.

That is, in any case, the rough sense that stuck out to me as I re-shuffled through my notes from last week’s story about huge, forecasted increases in the price of Colorado River water, which is controlled by San Diego County Water Authority.

San Diego Increases Sewer Rates 31 percent Over Four Years for Single-Family Customers

The San Diego City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a 17 percent sewer rate increase for single-family homes next year and a 31 percent increase for those customers over the next four years.

The new rate structure, which takes effect Jan. 1, reduces sewer rates for most businesses, condos and apartments based on two comprehensive studies showing those customers have been paying more than their fair share.

Higher Water Costs on the Horizon for San Diego Region

San Diego County residents should expect to pay a lot more for water in the near future.

The San Diego County Water Authority, which controls most of the region’s water resources from the drought-stressed Colorado River, is predicting anywhere from a 5.5 to 10 percent increase in the cost of water beginning in 2023, with hefty hikes continuing in the years thereafter.

The agency pointed to multiple drivers, chief among them an expected drop in demand as more cities build water recycling projects and the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water Authority, which controls San Diego’s access to the Colorado River, continues raising its rates.

National Awards for Pure Water San Diego’s John Carroll

John Carroll, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Treatment Plant superintendent, received the 2021 Robert O. Vernon Membrane Plant Operator of the Year Award from the American Membrane Technology Association and the American Water Works Association.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to water supply improvement by an individual working at a membrane filtration, desalination, and/or water reuse facility. Carroll was selected in recognition of his service and dedication to membrane operations and for his leadership within the industry.

“My selection would not have been possible without the support of many dedicated and talented individuals, the fellow coworkers, consultants, and volunteers to whom I owe all my success,” said Carroll.

John Carroll worked as the senior wastewater operations supervisor of the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where he oversaw the operation of the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility. Photo: City of San Diego Pure Water San Diego

National Awards for Pure Water San Diego’s John Carroll

John Carroll, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Treatment Plant superintendent, received the 2021 Robert O. Vernon Membrane Plant Operator of the Year Award from the American Membrane Technology Association and the American Water Works Association.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to water supply improvement by an individual working at a membrane filtration, desalination, and/or water reuse facility. Carroll was selected in recognition of his service and dedication to membrane operations and for his leadership within the industry.

“My selection would not have been possible without the support of many dedicated and talented individuals, the fellow coworkers, consultants, and volunteers to whom I owe all my success,” said Carroll.

Carroll plays key role in Pure Water Demonstration Facility

John Carroll will become Pure Water San Diego's first superintendent. Photo: City of San Diego

John Carroll will become Pure Water San Diego’s first superintendent when it is completed. Photo: City of San Diego

Carroll worked as the senior wastewater operations supervisor of the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where he oversaw the operation of the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility.

“When Pure Water came along, we needed staff to step up,” said Tom Rosales, Assistant Director for the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “John established protocols and procedures. He participated in training incoming staff. He led public tours. I can’t overstate his involvement from day one.”

From student to teacher

“Since I had no operational experience with Advanced Water Treatment technologies prior to my role at the City’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility, my approach was that of a student, with the caveat of knowing I would need to become a teacher out of necessity to build our internal knowledge,” said Carroll.

In July, Carroll was promoted to be the first superintendent of the North City Pure Water Facility, currently under construction. It is the latest step in a career that started with a part-time job in the City’s Lakes Division. He studied water and wastewater treatment at Palomar College and completed the Water Authority’s Regional Water/Wastewater Internship Program in 2009, launching his career with the City of San Diego in plant operations.

“The encouraging and supportive public servants I’ve met throughout my career continue to add to my sense of community here,” said Carroll. “Ultimately, I like to think I am following in my mother’s footsteps who worked at the City’s Otay Water Treatment Plant.”

National award recognizes Pure Water San Diego

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird's eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird’s eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Each year, AMTA confers multiple awards to recognize exceptional individuals and organizations like John Carroll and Pure Water San Diego for their efforts in advancing the understanding and application of membrane technology to create cost-effective and reliable water treatment solutions.

“This is a national award,” noted Rosales. “John’s peers and others agree that he’s deserving of this award. You want someone like John to be on your team to stand it up and lead it.”

“Membrane technology continues to make considerable advances in creating safe, affordable and reliable water treatment solutions because of industry innovators and a dedicated network of forward-thinking membrane professionals,” said Jill Miller, AMTA President.

The award is named after the late Dr. Vernon, a professional geologist who contributed to water resources management at various levels of state and federal government in Florida and who was a former president of the American Water Works Association.

This year’s winners were announced at the 2021 Membrane Technology Conference hosted in West Palm Beach, Florida in July.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Mayor, EPA Chief Celebrate First Phase of San Diego’s Drought-Resistant Water Recycling Project

Mayor Todd Gloria, along with state and federal leaders, formally kicked off construction of Phase 1 of the city’s Pure Water program August 20. The project is intended to provide nearly 50% of the city’s drinking water by 2035 and reduce the need for imported water.

Helping the mayor celebrate the historic occasion in University City were Rep. Scott Peters, California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and California State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel.

Pure Water San Diego-EPA loan-August 2021-water recycling-Phase 1-potable reuse

Mayor, EPA Chief Celebrate First Phase of San Diego’s Drought-Resistant Water Recycling Project

Mayor Todd Gloria, along with state and federal leaders, formally kicked off construction of Phase 1 of the city’s Pure Water program August 20. The project is intended to provide nearly 50% of the city’s drinking water by 2035 and reduce the need for imported water.

Helping the mayor celebrate the historic occasion in University City were Rep. Scott Peters, California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and California State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel.

Water recycling project

“Today, we celebrated the launch of the largest, most ambitious infrastructure project in San Diego’s history,” said Gloria. “The Pure Water program will guarantee us a local water resource that allows San Diego to be drought-resilient and environmentally sustainable. This is a key part of how we will provide clean drinking water to our residents for generations to come.”

Two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans from the EPA are providing funding for up to $733.5 million toward the program’s Phase I projects. Additional funding for the construction of the project will come from Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans in the amount of $665.1 million, and more than $80 million in federal and state grants, which do not need to be repaid.

The city will also receive a $340 credit from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for every acre-foot — enough water to supply up to four households for a year — produced for 25 years. This corresponds to a credit of $285.6 million over the life of the agreement, project leaders said.

Read the complete story from Times of San Diego here: https://bit.ly/3zgns1q

Pure Water San Diego is one of three potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region. The City of Oceanside is working toward creating 50% of its water supply locally, including Pure Water Oceanside, by 2030.

The East County Advanced Water Purification project would recycle 15 million gallons of annual wastewater discharge into drinking water, meeting 30% of the demand for potable water in East San Diego County.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Mayor, EPA Chief Celebrate First Phase of San Diego’s Drought-Resistant Water Recycling Project

Mayor Todd Gloria, along with state and federal leaders, formally kicked off construction of Phase 1 of the city’s Pure Water program Friday, intended to provide nearly 50% of the city’s drinking water by 2035 and reduce the need for imported water.

Helping the mayor celebrate the historic occasion in University City were Rep. Scott Peters, California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and California State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel.

“Today, we celebrated the launch of the largest, most ambitious infrastructure project in San Diego’s history,” Gloria said. “The Pure Water program will guarantee us a local water resource that allows San Diego to be drought-resilient and environmentally sustainable. This is a key part of how we will provide clean drinking water to our residents for generations to come.”