City sues SDG&E for allegedly delaying water-recycling project

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SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego announced Wednesday it is suing San Diego Gas & Electric for around $35 million, alleging the utility’s failure to relocate underground infrastructure is delaying a costly capital project that will provide millions of gallons of drinking water for residents.

The city is seeking to recoup the amount it paid SDG&E to undertake the relocation of gas and power lines, which officials say must be moved so the city can embark on the Pure Water project, a water-recycling endeavor that is expected to produce one-third of the city’s drinking water by 2035.

SDG&E issued a statement saying it generally does not comment on pending litigation, but “broadly speaking, SDG&E does not believe the relocation costs of this city of San Diego water project should be spread to customers in the other cities within our service area. We look forward to resolving this matter as quickly as possible.”

According to the lawsuit, SDG&E refused to relocate its infrastructure unless the city fronted funding — which was paid in 2018 — and yet still has not relocated the equipment.

“It’s unfortunate that a lawsuit is needed to compel our longtime partner to honor the terms of its contract with the city,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “Pure Water is critical to protecting the ocean from pollution and increasing our water independence. This program cannot be compromised by further delays.”

The lawsuit was approved by a unanimous vote of the San Diego City Council last October.

City officials say the Pure Water program will use water purification technology to make wastewater potable. Phase I of the project would create 30 million gallons of potable water per day and is scheduled for completion in 2023.

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