New source of drinking water tested in East County

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SANTEE, Calif. – East County could soon have another source for drinking water.

Officials unveiled Friday a new advanced water purification demonstration plant that will produce potable water.

“This is extremely significant and it would be even if we weren’t in a drought situation,” Dianne Jacob, County Supervisor said at the ribbon cutting.

Dam officials said the system would help make San Diego sufficient when it comes to times of drought.

“This is the next phase in the use of recycled water,” said Alan Carlisle, CEO and General Manager of Padre Dam. “We are taking recycled water and we’re sending it through four additional treatment processes.”

The four stages are free chlorine disinfection, membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet or advanced oxidation.

“We’re essentially stripping everything out of the water source,” said Alan Lau.

“The product water at the end is near distilled quality water, drinking water,” said Carlisle. “The water is cleaner than what comes out of your faucet now.”

The demonstration plant is capable of producing 100,000 gallons a day. However, none of it will be added to the current water supply at the dam.

“It’s just for testing,” said Carlisle.

The test will show state regulators it works and hopefully they will give the green light to go full-scale.

“Then with approval, we’ll probably need another several years to construct and create that water,” said Carlisle.

Carlisle told FOX 5 realistically, a full-scale system would not come online until 2019 or 2020.

“When it does, we believe we can produce up to 20 percent of our customer’s water needs.”

The demonstration plant will be under testing until 2016, but project engineers are already confident, it will work.

“Even the initial result from the plant itself has been fantastic so we’re very, very optimistic,” said Lau.

Dam officials plan on demonstrating the system to state regulators next week.

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