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Opinion: Secure California’s Future Water Supply and Invest in Recycled Water

Climate change is forcing our state to reimagine our water supply future. How do we do that? Easy — we reuse water.

Just like recycling a plastic bottle, we can safely use recycled water to drink, irrigate parks, support environmental uses, grow crops, produce energy, and much more. More than just a new source of water, water recycling projects provide a degree of local water independence.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature are considering a drought funding package this summer that will use some of the budget surplus to mitigate drought effects and prepare our state for our new water-scarce future.  The governor and the Legislature need to continue their commitment to recycled water by making a significant investment of at least $500 million in the package.

EPA Funding Secured for East County Drinking Water Project

In a major milestone for water reliability, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program was awarded a $388 million federal loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help advance the project’s completion.

“The East County Advanced Water Purification Program is the result of many years of strategic, long-term planning and this WIFIA loan marks a historic milestone in its development,” said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “By providing East County with local control and independence of both its wastewater and water, the program secures a long-term solution for increased stability in our communities and safeguards the vitality of our economy and quality of life. We are grateful to the U.S. EPA for partnering with us on this important program and investing in future generations.”

Pure Water Oceanside-New Virtual Video-Oceanside

Pure Water Oceanside’s New Virtual Reality Video

To celebrate Water Awareness Month in May and highlight the value of water, the City of Oceanside has unveiled its new virtual reality video tour. The 360-degree video shows the water recycling process that prepares water for Pure Water Oceanside. The advanced water purification project will create a new local source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound.

The video provides an immersive 360-degree look at Oceanside’s San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility in anticipation of opening the first advanced purified water project in San Diego County. The water for the project will be sourced from the reclamation facility. The virtual 360-degree video allows viewers to engage and look all around by simply using a computer mouse or touch screen or moving their phones in order to see all around.

Virtual reality video is “educational resource”

Viewers who have a virtual headset for cell phones can take it one step further by “stepping into” the video much like a simulation. In June, the City of Oceanside will begin scheduling opportunities for schools and scouts to view the video using city-provided virtual reality goggles.

“As we enter into another dry summer, Water Awareness Month provides a reason to reflect on how valuable Oceanside’s investments in water supply reliability and water use efficiency are,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “The 360-degree video is an educational video resource for the community to have a better understanding of the City’s efforts to create local sources of water including recycled and advanced purified water, which will provide up to 50% of the City’s water supply.

“Pure Water Oceanside and recycled water expansion projects are examples of how the City works efficiently to provide safe, local and sustainable water resources while keeping water rates among the lowest in the county for our residents and businesses,” she added.

Water recycling and reuse projects

Pure Water Oceanside is one of several potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region.

The East County Advanced Water Purification project is a collaborative partnership between the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, County of San Diego, City of El Cajon and the Helix Water District. Once operational, the East County AWP will provide up to 30% of East San Diego County’s drinking water demands, or almost 13,000 acre-feet of water per year, while eliminating the discharge of 15 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Pure Water San Diego is a $5 billion project designed to generate 83 million gallons of water per day by 2035, nearly 50% of the City of San Diego’s water demand based on the new 2021 urban water management plan.

Drought safe and sustainable supply

The combination of Pure Water Oceanside with the City’s recycled water expansion project exemplifies the value the City of Oceanside places on water. The project will safeguard against drought, provide a local and sustainable source of water, and reduce the city’s dependence on increasingly expensive imported water from the Sacramento Bay Delta and the Colorado River.

Scheduled to be completed in 2022, Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County. The $71 million project will use advanced technology to replicate and accelerate the natural recycling process to provide 3 to 5 million gallons per day to the City of Oceanside.

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

East County Advanced Water Purification Program Video

A new video explains how the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will create a new, local, reliable and drought proof supply of drinking water for San Diego residents. The four-minute video, The Clear Solution, shows how recycling and reusing the region’s wastewater will create high quality drinking water. The East County AWP is one of several potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region.

Pure Water Oceanside-Potable Reuse-Sustainability Sustainble Building Week

SD Sustainable Building Week Features Water Reuse Projects

Representatives from three potable reuse projects under development in San Diego County will provide project updates during the inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego” at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13.

Hosted by the San Diego Green Building Council, Sustainable Building Week offers free virtual events from April 12 – 16 addressing sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building. All events are free and open to the public.

Sustainable Building Week and potable reuse

The San Diego County Water Authority hosts and moderates a panel titled “Potable Reuse: New Local Sources  of High-Quality Drinking Water for  San Diego County.” Potable reuse will provide a new source of safe, high-quality drinking water in San Diego County. Projects will create a local supply that is sustainable, drought-resilient, and benefits the environment. Additional sources of local water supply will also help prepare the region for future droughts and a changing climate.

Financially competitive and environmentally responsible

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

Purified water from the East County Advanced Water Purification Project will undergo additional processing at Helix Water District’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant after being be piped into the district’s Lake Jennings reservoir. Photo: Helix Water District

Attendees to the free virtual presentation will hear the latest updates on three San Diego County potable reuse projects currently under development. The presenters will describe how the potable reuse process purifies recycled water; reduces reliance on imported water; and is financially competitive and environmentally responsible.

Panelists include:

Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, has been working towards meeting the Oceanside City Council’s goal of 50% local water supply development by the year 2030, a goal which will be achieved in part by the implementation of Pure Water Oceanside.

John Stufflebean, Assistant Director, Water Utilities Department, City of San Diego, currently the Assistant Director for the Pure Water and Technical Services Branch. Pure Water San Diego is the $5 billion project designed to generate nearly one-half of San Diego’s water demand from purified wastewater.

Kyle Swanson, Director of Advanced Water Purification, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, provides leadership and guidance in the design and implementation of the East County Advanced Water Purification Project.  He has over 20 years of experience in water-related industries and is a licensed distribution and treatment operator and certified public manager.

Moderating the program is Lesley Dobalian, Principal Water Resources Specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority.

Registration to attend the program is free. Attendees can RSVP and receive a link for the presentation on the SDGBC Sustainable Building Week website.

We’re About to Drink Recycled Water But Don’t Know What’s in it

I’ve been writing a lot about the broken sewage system in Tijuana causing spills into San Diego. Part of the concern, San Diego officials told me, is that Mexico lacks a system to monitor whether businesses are dumping toxic waste into the sewer system.

That’s part of the reason why it’s risky to reuse any of that river water because, if we don’t know what’s in the water, we can’t be sure how to best treat it.

FPUD Approves Change Order for CUP

The Fallbrook Public Utility District board approved a change order to the contract with Filanc Alberici JV to construct the Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. A 5-0 FPUD board vote Feb. 22 approved a change order which will add $3,389,801 to the price of the contract.

One California Community Shows How to Take the Waste Out of Water

Caught between climate change and multi-year droughts, California communities are tapping groundwater and siphoning surface water at unsustainable rates. As this year’s below-average rainfall accentuates the problem, a public-private partnership in the Monterey/Salinas region has created a novel water recycling program that could serve as a model for parched communities

City of Oceanside-Pure Water Oceanside-water recycling

Pure Water Oceanside Project Reaches Milestones

Pure Water Oceanside construction remains on schedule for completion in 2022, with several significant milestones recently completed. The Oceanside project will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of high-quality drinking water that is safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound.

“Construction has impacted many residents and businesses,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “Please know the City of Oceanside appreciates your patience. We thank people for understanding the need for this project and bearing with us during these months of construction impacts. This work is temporary, but the benefits will last for generations.”

Pure Water Oceanside Project foundation walls in place

Now under construction, Pure Water Oceanside will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound. Photo: Jeremy Kemp, City of Oceanside

Now under construction, the project will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of high-quality drinking water that is safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound. Photo: Jeremy Kemp/City of Oceanside

The foundational work on the facility located in the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility is complete. Pipelines, electrical conduits, equipment pads/pedestals, and wet wells have been constructed. Prefabricated walls have been installed. Installing the roof and additional wall stabilizing are next on the schedule.

The water purification equipment including pumps, membrane filters, and reverse osmosis canisters are currently being manufactured. Delivery is anticipated between this summer and fall.

Coco Farms Drive and Fireside Park construction update

Work on the south side of Coco Palms Drive near the El Camino Real intersection begins this month. Parking in the area will be closed during this work period with "no parking" signs posted. Map: City of Oceanside

Work on the south side of Coco Palms Drive near the El Camino Real intersection begins this month. Parking in the area will be closed during this work period with “no parking” signs posted. Graphic: City of Oceanside

The two injection wells on Coco Palms Drive are complete. Sound walls will be removed. Construction on two planned monitoring wells is anticipated to begin within the next two months. Sound walls will be installed prior to extended hours construction into evenings and weekends to reduce the impact on the community.

Coco Palms Drive will continue to be closed for the next few months while pipeline construction is underway.

Work on the south side of Coco Palms Drive near the El Camino Real intersection begins this month. Parking in the area will be closed during this work period with “no parking” signs posted.

Monitoring well work in Fireside Park will take place primarily during the daytime, with possible evening and weekend work for critical activities. Sound walls will be installed to reduce noise. Drilling and development is estimated to take six weeks.

El Camino Real recycled water expansion pipeline work coming soon

An overhead look at pipeline installation along Douglas Drive in Oceanside for Pure Water Oceanside project. Photo: Jeremy Kemp, City of Oceanside

An overhead look at pipeline installation along Douglas Drive in Oceanside for Pure Water Oceanside. Photo: Jeremy Kemp/City of Oceanside

Pipeline installation work will begin soon to install recycled water pipelines under El Camino Real. Traffic delays are expected and alternative routes are suggested.

Cones will be set up in work zones to redirect traffic from closed lanes and flagger workers will help drivers safely navigate intersections. Regular working hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with occasional work on Saturdays.

Work at the Mission Avenue and El Camino Real intersection will be at night to reduce commuter traffic impacts. Work hours will be from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Oceanside Project benefits both residents and environment

Construction personnel guide reverse osmosis skids into place. Photo: Jeremy Kemp, City of Oceanside

Construction personnel guide reverse osmosis skids into place. Photo: Jeremy Kemp/City of Oceanside

Approximately 90% of Oceanside’s drinking water is imported. Pure Water Oceanside will create three to five million gallons of drinking water each day, enough water to provide 32% of the City of Oceanside’s water supply.

The water purification process uses reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation to create safe drinking water. The technology removes pharmaceuticals, chemicals, hormones, microplastics, and personal care products.

The project protects sensitive ecosystems by reducing the amount of water siphoned by imported water sources. It decreases the amount of recycled water discharged into the ocean, and uses half the energy needed to transport imported water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Residents are kept up to date on construction impacts to streets and other infrastructure through several outreach efforts including an interactive construction map, detailed online schedule, regular newsletters, and virtual open house presentations live on the City of Oceanside’s YouTube channel, offering residents the opportunity to ask questions.

Water News Network Top Stories of 2020

The Water News Network top stories of 2020 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, the environment and efforts to diversify water supply sources. But the year was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted water infrastructure and operations.