Work Begins on $500M Advanced Water Treatment Facility for Los Angeles

Design is underway on the $500-million Donald C. Tillman Advanced Water Purification Facility, one of the largest potable reuse projects in the country.

Led by LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) and the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (LADWP), the facility will be constructed via progressive design-build, with Jacobs serving as the lead contractor.

Crews Break Ground on $950M Water Purification Plant in East County

The East County Advanced Water Purification Program broke ground Wednesday, marking an important milestone for the project, which could purify up to 11.5 million gallons of water per day when it’s completed.

Program representatives, elected officials and water industry leaders gathered Wednesday at the future site of the treatment facility in Santee. The project was approved on May 19 by the East County AWP Joint Powers Authority, which owns and operates the program, and is a collaborative partnership between four agencies: Padre Dam, the city of El Cajon, the county of San Diego and the Helix Water District.

Soquel Creek Breaks Ground on Water Purification Center

The Soquel Creek Water District in California held a groundbreaking ceremony last week, commemorating the start of construction on its Advanced Water Purification Center – the core of the district’s Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Contamination Prevention Project.


Pure Water San Diego Associate Engineer Anthony Van guides a new virtual tour of the demonstration facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Pure Water San Diego Launches Guided Virtual Tour

The City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility public tour is now available as a virtual tour. A new video provides an up-close look at the technology behind the water purification plant. In-person tours are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and will resume once it is safe to do so.

Since opening in June 2011, nearly 19,000 people have toured the one-million-gallon-per-day facility in person. Now, the Pure Water Demonstration Facility Virtual Tour takes viewers step-by-step through each of the five treatment processes used to create Pure Water.

Members of the City Pure Water team including wastewater operators, engineers, and water resource specialists explain the equipment and technology. Each is accompanied by graphics and animations showing the inner workings of each barrier. The video also includes drone footage for a bird’s-eye view perspective not previously available to the public.

Take the Pure Water San Diego virtual tour

Phase 1 construction on schedule to begin in early 2021

Construction of Phase 1 of the Pure Water Program is scheduled to begin in early 2021. Phase 1 will include a full-scale, 30-million-gallon-per-day Pure Water Facility that will use the five water purification steps modeled at the Demonstration Facility.

The North City Pure Water Facility will be constructed on a City of San Diego owned parcel east of Interstate 805 and north of Eastgate Mall, across from the existing North City Water Reclamation Plant.

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

Purified water produced at the completed plant will be delivered to the Miramar Reservoir, blended with the City of San Diego’s imported and local water sources, and treated again at the existing Miramar Drinking Water Treatment Plant. After this process, the water will be distributed to customers. Phase 1 projects are expected to be completed in 2025.

The tour video is available at More information about the Program can be found at

Helix Water District's R.M Levy Water Treatment Plant

Water Recycling Project to Expand San Diego Region’s Local Supply

A water recycling project that will purify treated wastewater into drinking water for East San Diego County is moving toward its completion date after the Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized the signing of water purchase agreements.

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is a collaborative, regional effort to diversify the district’s water portfolio and provide a drought-proof supply. The  water reuse project will further enhance reliability by purifying treated wastewater using Lake Jennings and other facilities.

The Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized its General Manager to sign water purchase agreements for the East County Advanced Water Purification Project at a special meeting on May 27.

Water recycling project ‘investment in water supply reliability’

The $681 million project, led by the East County AWP Joint Powers Authority, will recycle daily wastewater flows from Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Winter Gardens and Alpine. Treated water will undergo membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation to produce water that is near-distilled in quality.

The purified water will be piped into Helix’s Lake Jennings before undergoing additional processing at the district’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed as safe, clean drinking water.

“I’m looking forward to the development of this project and I believe it’s an investment that strengthens our district’s water supply reliability and security,” said Helix Water District Board President Mark Gracyk. “This is a great example of what can be accomplished by working with our neighboring agencies.”

Water reuse will reduce dependence on imported water

East County AWP project water will reduce east San Diego County’s dependence on imported water by almost 30% once full operations begin in 2026. The project will create a local supply for the East County at about the same cost as what Helix pays now for imported water, according to the Helix Water District.

San Diego County water agencies, including Helix, Padre Dam, and the cities of San Diego and Oceanside, are developing or expanding water recycling projects. Diversifying local supply sources remains a priority for the San Diego County Water Authority. Imported sources, including water from the Colorado River and State Water Project, can be cutback during times of drought.

“The project was conceived by JPA members as a way to reduce rising wastewater costs for their customers,” said Helix Water District General Manager Carlos Lugo. “For Helix to participate, the project had to make financial sense for our ratepayers as well. By expanding our local supply, the East County AWP project water will help ensure that we are better able to navigate future droughts.”

The 30-year purchase agreements establish the cost and quantity of water that Helix will purchase from the East County AWP JPA under the proposed project.

Agency collaboration on sustainability

East County Advanced Water Purification Project-Visitor Center rendering-June 2020-Helix

An artist’s rendering of the new East County Advanced Water Purification Facility. The water recycling project is a partnership between Padre Dam MWD, Helix Water District, San Diego County and the City of El Cajon Graphic: Courtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Helix and the JPA members – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, San Diego County Sanitation District and the City of El Cajon – have been working together to evaluate the ECAWP plan since 2014. Each JPA member has until 2021 to make a final decision on the feasibility of the project and participation.

Helix has invested $850,000 and significant board and staff resources to study the feasibility of the project, including a tracer study with Scripps Institution of Oceanography to learn how water moves and mixes in Lake Jennings.

“We are committed to exploring sustainable projects that benefit our customers,” said Gracyk. “The ECAWP project will be a great complement to our other ongoing investments in regional water supply projects, such as the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, to ensure we have enough water to meet demand.”

San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Chair Jim Madaffer-primary-View from the Chair

Jim Madaffer: Supporting Protections for Ratepayers and Property Owners

I hope this finds you safe and healthy despite the challenging circumstances that we face as a region, state and nation.

While our hearts are heavy, we continue working on several critical issues at the Water Authority this month, and I would like to share three of them with you briefly.

  1. The Water Authority’s Board of Directors on May 28 voted to support a comprehensive evaluation of the impacts of detachment proposals by the Rainbow and Fallbrook water districts to ensure that ratepayers and property owners in those districts and the rest of the county are protected from potential impacts and given a meaningful opportunity to engage in the process. That evaluation – under development by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO – should cover financial, water supply reliability, governmental, and environmental impacts, and it should ensure that the public and all affected agencies across the region can weigh in, according to the Water Authority Board resolution. I encourage you to read the entire resolution at
  2. Our Board has set a public hearing on 2021 rates and charges on June 25. As you know, this has been a very rough stretch financially for almost every business and agency – and water utilities are no exception. Staff has proposed a strategy that would raise the rates we charge our member agencies by about 6 percent next year. That recommendation is the result of cost-cutting, using our Rate Stabilization Fund and other measures. It’s a thoughtful and careful proposal, and I’m expecting our Board will have robust discussion before voting on this issue that affects us all.
  3. On the financial front, we are also doing our part to attract more state and federal economic stimulus funds for a long list of shovel-ready water projects. The Water Authority has coordinated a letter from several water agencies asking Congress for COVID-19 financial relief for public water utilities and ratepayers. At the same time, I am pleased to announce that several regional water supply projects in San Diego County are on track to receive a total of more than $15 million in state grant funds, pending a final decision this summer. The money would help local agencies advance conservation, environmental enhancements, water purification and other initiatives.

As always, I will continue to update you on these critical issues and others in the weeks ahead.

View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.
Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Regional Collaboration on Water Purification Project Expands Local, Drought-Proof Supply of Drinking Water

The Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized its General Manager to sign water purchase agreements for the East County Advanced Water Purification project at a special meeting on May 27, 2020.

Water Purification Project’s Environmental Report Responds to Public Concerns

On Dec. 16, Carpinteria Valley Water District’s (CVWD) Board of Directors unanimously certified the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed Carpinteria Advanced Purification Project (CAPP) which involves the construction of a new advanced water purification facility, conveyance pipelines and injection wells to treat recycled water.

Padre Dam Board Approves Interim Funding Agreement For Regional Water Purification Project

The board for the Padre Dam Municipal Water District has voted unanimously for a financing package that clearly outlines the costs to each of the four agencies building the East County Advanced Water Purification Project. The approval for an interim $9.4 million funding agreement on June 19 was part of a series of steps the Santee water district took towards constructing a massive water reclamation facility that will cost about $660 million total.

New Recycled Water Purification System Coming To Oceanside

The city is suiting up for construction of a new facility later this year that will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of drinking water for residents by 2022. Pure Water Oceanside is a water purification system that aims to reduce the city’s reliance on imported water, improve groundwater resources, increase local water supply and strengthen the city’s resiliency to drought and climate change in an environmentally sound process.