Faulconer supports plan to turn wastewater into drinking water

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SAN DIEGO – Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Thursday a plan to make San Diego one of the only cities in the country to supply its own water instead of outsourcing it.

The 20-year capital improvement project calls for the construction of a nearly $2 billion water-purification plant on Harbor Drive and installation of advanced purification at the North City Water Reclamation Plant and the South Bay Water Reclamation Plant. The three facilities would eventually produce 83 million gallons per day.

"Pure water would be a reliable and drought-resistant supply that is far less expensive than the current imported water," Faulconer said. "Pure water is an ambitious project that calls for the use of recycled water that will help a third of our city's water supply by 2035."

Currently San Diego’s wastewater goes through the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment plant. The wastewater is cleaned, but not well enough for drinking, so it gets dumped into the ocean.

The Pure Water Project would instead allow San Diego to purify its wastewater and reuse it for drinking.

"We are currently using chemicals--including chlorine--to clean what comes from the Colorado River, so this is nothing new and we are just putting in a controlled environment,” said Halla Razak, Director of Public Utilities for San Diego City. "And after the treatment, this will be purer than any other raw water we get."

San Diego currently imports 85% of its water from the Bay Delta and the Colorado River.

By 2016, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant will potentially provide the San Diego region with 50-million gallons of water per day – that’s 7% of the water we use.

“We are going to get through this drought, God willing, but there will be other droughts," Faulconer said. "We have to plan for the future. This is what this is about."

The City Council will vote on the Pure Water Project on Nov. 18. If passed, it will be installed during three phases over the next 20 years.

Orange County had a similar project in place since 2008, serving nearly one million people.