News Feature | August 14, 2017

Feds Push $3B Water Recycling Program In San Diego

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

San Diego has approval from federal regulators to continue running its wastewater treatment plant, but it comes with a catch.

The city must continue “to pursue a $3 billion water recycling program,” the Associated Press reported.

The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant won approval to operate for another five years despite that it is the only facility of its kind that fails to meet federal standards, the AP reported. The plant continues to operate under a permit waiver.

“The permit waiver is part of a longstanding deal between city officials, regulators and members of the environmental community aimed at freeing up money to pay for a water recycling program called Pure Water San Diego,” the report said.

“The city has been repeatedly granted the EPA waiver since 1995, allowing the local government to forego a roughly $2 billion overhaul of the site,” it continued.

San Diego’s Pure Water initiative seeks to produce “30 million gallons per day of recycled water by 2022,” Voice of San Diego reported.

City officials say the waiver will allow them to target water spending to where it really counts.

“This is huge for San Diego because we’ll be able to avoid unnecessary and expensive upgrades at the Point Loma plant and can instead invest those dollars to create an independent, drought-proof water supply for our residents,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, per The San Diego Union-Tribune. “With this permit renewal, the EPA is showing strong support for our Pure Water recycling program as we chart a path toward water independence.”

Proponents of the San Diego waiver say research shows that the facility’s environmental effects are not as harmful as they could be.

“Independent scientific studies have shown that while discharges into the Pacific Ocean from the wastewater plant do not always meet secondary treatment standards, releases have little to no impact on the surrounding marine environment,” the AP reported.

To read more about water recycling visit Water Online’s Water Reuse Solutions Center.