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The Padre Dam Municipal Water District announced yesterday that it is seeking bids from environmental contractors to develop a plan to manage “salts, nutrients, and other significant chemical compounds” throughout the Santee Basin aquifer, a term describing the groundwater table near where the San Diego River flows through the East County community.

The program is being implemented in order to “streamline the permitting of new recycled water projects” in the aquifer, including the reclamation of groundwater via existing and new wells. A salt and nutrient management plan is needed due to concerns that high concentrations of salt or other elements in the water might cause issues with its being added to the local supply.

The primary goal of the winning bidder seems to be the manufacture of a report that will support a conclusion established by the District and other stakeholders, including the County of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Water Control Authority and the cities of San Diego, Santee, and El Cajon. The first objective of the contract is as follows:

  • Ensure a sustainable water supply to the region. Protect existing and future recycled water programs by examining whether high-quality recycled water is not a majority contributor to salts and nutrients, and if the use of recycled water is helping to achieve a more sustainable water supply portfolio…*

Once it’s established that salt and nutrient content are not a potential red flag to pursuit of any water recycling program, the contract calls for bidders to identify the causes of nutrient buildup in the water basin and develop a plan for management of water purity at an acceptable level to allow development of such programs.

A complete copy of the request can be found here.

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