San Diego studies making drinking water from waste water

SAN DIEGO – From the toilet to the tap, the future of San Diego’s drinking water may soon come from an unlikely source – and it’s anything but natural.

glass of waterThe city has been conducting a two-year study, turning waste water into drinking water at the North City Water Reclamation Plant. The advanced water treatment project is now one step closer to becoming reality.

“It’s very pure – purer than drinking water.”

That’s the promise, ultra pure drinking water right here in our own back yard. Councilman David Alvarez, is heading up the committee overseeing the project, he says overcoming the “yuk factor” was tough.

“There‘s always, in the back of people’s mind the thought that it came from sewer lines.”

Sewer lines as in drain run-off and yes, toilets.

The controversial project is several years in the making, and if all goes as planned will soon be a reality here in San Diego.

“We speed up the natural process through technology and science.”

Scientists at the plant explain the process this way, “This is the first step, it removes all the protozoa and micro-filtration.”

Then it goes through reverse osmosis and finally what is called advanced oxidation using ultraviolent light and hydrogen peroxide.

“The sewage treated using this technology is actually better quality than our current tap water,” says councilman Alvarez.

The plan would help offset the rising cost of water for ratepayers by producing 15 million gallons per day.

In Sacramento, meantime, state legislators are proposing a complete overhaul of the California plumbing network with a cost of 35 billion dollars.  Councilman Alvarez is planning a trip to Sacramento next week to negotiate a way to incorporate this new treatment facility into the cost of the state plan.

“This is a potential way to maybe reduce the cost of that plan and the state help us build our own system so we become sustainable.

While some are still squeamish over the source of the water, polls show 75 percent of residents now embraced the idea.

“I think it’s good because we need to preserve our water and anyway we can.”

“Very gross! Just think, would you let your dog drink out of the toilet?”

The city has approved going ahead with more research. It’s estimated that it would cost about $320 million.