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On Tuesday, July 27, San Diego’s city council dove into the issue of “indirect potable reuse” and members debated whether to allocate $6.6 million to Camp Dresser McKee to design, install, procure, and operate a demonstration-scale advanced water purification facility at the North City Water Reclamation Plant near UTC.

The project will take wastewater from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, treat it at the purification facility, and add it into the reclaimed water reservoir for use as irrigation water, not for drinking purposes.

And while turning wastewater into drinking water has yet to make its way into the mainstream, the project will help the City ease the water shortage and reduce the region’s reliance on expensive imported water.

According to 2005’s water reuse study, the City estimates that the water-treatment facility will produce 16 million gallons of treated water per day. Despite the rapid production flow, a few city councilmembers are still are having a tough time swallowing the idea of reusing water.

“I believe that San Diegans need a safe, affordable, and reliable water supply. We live in fear of continued droughts,” said councilmember Kevin Faulconer before stating his skepticism in regards to cost and the science of treating wastewater for irrigation and for consumption. “I support the pilot project only at this time but I still remain to be convinced that this is a safe source of drinking water for San Diegans.”

Councilmember Sherri Lightner also expressed some reservations about the pilot project. “[Indirect potable reuse water] would only produce a small amount of the total water we need,” she said. The District 1 representative prefers that the City treat indirect potable reuse water as part of an “updated comprehensive water policy” that includes using all water conservation strategies; such as desalination, use of “gray water,” and non-potable recycled water. “Projects,” said Lightner, “that are already test-proven options.”

The council later approved the $6.6 million allocation, with councilmembers Lightner and Carl DeMaio casting “no” votes.

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Comments

Founder July 28, 2010 @ 9:03 a.m.

Cheers, I'll drink to the new P (urification) Plant!

San Diego, a City with "Water, Water Everywhere" will soon have yet another source of what is now very "expensive" and increasingly rare water!

If our Leaders are so worried about the quality of our water, why are they not a million times MORE worried about US being able to afford to live and work here?

We should be PLANNING for additional water treatment and desalination plants to be built "Yesterday", instead of squander our "Budget" on giant new buildings and additional Density that will only stretch our basic services more!

If we now had a high output, eco friendly desalination plant on line today, much of the money (leaving SD) that we now spend for our water would stay in SD and help keep both our lawns and our City Budget GREENER!

SD SHOULD PLAN TO BE WATER SELF SUFFICIENT ASAP and then we would also be in the water SELLING business instead of the water BUYING business!

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jv333 July 28, 2010 @ 11:03 a.m.

My god...this already passed the City Council a couple of years ago..over the Mayor's veto ...

My understanding is that the project went back to the Mayor for implementation of the pilot project and it got filed away with cost as a concern.

We should have been doing this a long time ago...like they do in Orange County.

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Founder July 28, 2010 @ 1:08 p.m.

Reply to # 3 All of US in San Diego, should have been doing lots of things "Different" "a long time ago"...

A couple of Good City Council's would have by now would have funded: ..Extra water reservoirs to capture excess rain runoff. ..A water desalination plant that would be paying for itself now. ..Adding a purple water line when installing new water mains. ..Fix Libraries in all areas instead of a new one Downtown. ..Realistic BIG Union benefits instead of "give a ways". ..Fixing streets, instead of fixing City benefits & their raises. ..etc...

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nostalgic July 28, 2010 @ 3:14 p.m.

The ancient Romans had a different scheme - tap to toilet, instead of toilet to tap. The last stop the water made on its way out of the house was through the latrine. I suppose that is not possible now.

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GrokSurf July 28, 2010 @ 3:24 p.m.

Re. second paragraph -- I'm pretty sure there's no wastewater from the Point Loma plant going to the North City reclamation plant. Untreated wastewater comes in from northern parts of the city through an 84 inch pipeline beneath the I-805 and feeds the North City reclamation plant.

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Founder July 28, 2010 @ 4:44 p.m.

Regarding #4

That's the WHOLE idea behind using gray water.

If I had my way, all new construction would require that kitchen sink, showers, bathroom sinks and similar sources (like roof rain water) of used but not toilet water be filtered and chlorinated by tablet, then used to fill our toilets for flushing. Using clean drinking quality water to fill our toilets for flushing #1 and #2 is just crazy, especially in Sunny San Diego.

Forget the lawn watering savings, re-directing our gray water to our toilets would save 1 to 4 gallons per flush each and every day for every toilet in San Diego!

BTW: The County of San Diego, is still dragging it's feet in establishing it's gray water code but luckily the State has it's own code that the County must accept! --> The only reason for this that I can figure out is that the County wants water prices to go up in order to force folks to use less to allow for future growth, then when it's actually needed to allow even more additional growth, they will suddenly adopt gray water as THE way to go...

Keep adding tax payers, so each year they will have more money to spend!

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watersaver July 28, 2010 @ 6:07 p.m.

Regarding #6, reusing greywater in toilets;

For most houses, reusing the greywater in toilets is not economical, or the most beneficial re-use of the water (onsite treatment is a viable option for residential building complexes)

If the lot has garden space, the most beneficial method is reusing the graywater every day in the garden.

If there are 4 people in the house, about 100 gallons per day would be re-used, resulting in 150 gallons of potable water NOT being used per day on the garden (using greywater daily is far more efficient than using potable water twice per week - this is why 100 gallons of greywater will save 150 gallons of potable).

This would save about 40,000 gallons per year of potable water, compared to saving about 12,000 gallons per year reusing greywater in the toilet in the same household, with the toilet system costing twice as much as the garden irrigation system.

These water savings do not apply if doing the laundry to landscape method, nor the branched drain system. Both of these methods are very inefficient as the greywater is not distributed evenly or over a wide area, with most of it going into the subsoil, away from the root zone.

If interested in the science behind all of this, go to http://www.besthomewatersavers.com/pages/Graywater-Guide.html

Even purple pipe (county supplied reclaimed water) is not that efficient - it takes 8 times as much power to treat the water offsite and bring it back, than to simply allow the graywater to be handled on site.

In San Diego there is not enough rainfall to justify an engineered rainwater harvesting system for a typical lot. With only a three month wet period, huge tanks / cisterns would be required to maintain storage over the dry months.

Feel free to email me - paul (at) justwatersaversusa (dot) com

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Buttonb July 29, 2010 @ 9:24 a.m.

This story could be more accurate.

All of City Council supports this study, and said so verbally. 2 of them expressed concern about full IPR implementation. 2 is not a few. 3-4 is a few. The 2 that voted against it are doing so for other reasons.

This project is backed by the business, and environmental community because it an important source of water for San Diegans.

They are already drinking it in OC, Scottsdale AZ, Virginia and Texas.

Belinda Smith Surfrider Foundation, San Diego www.KnowYourH2O.org

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Founder July 29, 2010 @ 10:19 a.m.

Reply to # 7 Thanks for the numbers, hope lots of folks contact you to find out more...

You might be interested in this: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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Founder July 29, 2010 @ 10:44 a.m.

Regarding #8 What you said, was just Great!

-- See Sea --

I was glad to read all your comments posted here, because our water resources are very dear.

Even if folks don't surf the ocean, everyone should support this motion!

Re-use of our water, is the best way to go, in all of our gardens, and the yards that we mow.

If we each practice being MORE green, we can keep our Ocean very clean!

We all should support you, and keep our Ocean BLUE...

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