San Diego studies making drinking water from waste water

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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.


  • Greg Chick LEED GA

    The water from the Colorado River has had worse in it than toilet ! how about the dead bodies from people either "tubing" in the canal or trying to enter US from Mexico and having to cross the canal getting trapped in the siphons drowning as well as stuck in the mechanism. This was a reality untill the Metro Water put floating ropes in the canal to save the idiots. We already drink this "Toilet to tap" because Las Vegas treats all the sewage and returns it to where they got it… the water that comes here! Saying, " would you let your dog drink out of the toilet" is an ignorant comment… Olives are poisonous before being treated, the water we drink today has already been somethings pee. Fish live & pee in our lakes as well as die in our lakes. Our wells are 100 feet from our septic tank leach fields… Look in the Building/Plumbing Code book! If people knew the allowable amount of insect and dead rodent matter allowed in food, they would cringe! I suggest 320 million dollars worth of equipment is better than 100 feet of dirt! Even if mother nature has blessed the dirt. ASTM and ASSE and a whole alphabet of AHJ's have endorsed this treatment plant. After 35 plus yrs. as a Contractor in water industry I assure you this water is cleaner than you are accustom too.

  • David

    “This is the first step, it removes all the protozoa and micro-filtration.” This sentence doesn't make sense. Protozoa is something in the water while micro-filtration is a method for treating the water. It sound like the process is micro-filtration followed by reverse osmosis then UV and hydrogen peroxide treatment. I know this is a tecnical piece but at least try to get the basics correct.

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