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.