News Feature | August 23, 2017

$33 Million Recycled Water Plant Moves Forward Despite Opposition

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

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Following a lengthy legal battle, Escondido City is almost ready to begin construction on a new $33 million recycled water treatment plant.

“Once completed, the water plant will desalinate recycled water that has already been partially treated, then send it though pipes to eastern and northern Escondido to be used primarily to irrigate farmland. Further desalination is necessary for it to be used on crops, especially avocado trees,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Escondido’s Utilities Director Chris McKinney provided a timeline for when the plant would become operational, per the report.

“I would hope we can start delivering real water sometime in the middle of 2019,” he said.

Escondido farmers supported the construction of the plant to promote access to affordable water for irrigation.

But not everyone liked the proposal. The Springs of Escondido, a retirement home located near the construction site, filed a lawsuit against it.

Geraldine Teutsch, 78, is one example of the opposition the plant faced. She spoke out against the proposal last year: “This is going to be where I end my life,” she said. “It’s tough getting old. This is a deep, hurtful thing. Change is very hard for us. We don’t need someone coming along and making our lives harder.”

Officials managed to satisfy the retirement community in a deal that squashed the lawsuit and greenlit the project.

“In exchange for dismissal of the claim, the city has agreed to pay the retirement home’s owners $40,000 and to abide by a number of conditions designed to minimize the impact the construction and operation of the water facility will have on the center’s senior residents,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Conditions include a landscaped buffer zone, restrictions on building specs in certain areas, and a promise that the design will fill into the neighborhood, the report said.

The plant is expected to be a major cost-saver for the city.

“As things stand now, most of the city’s partially treated water is dumped into the ocean via an outfall pipe that is nearing capacity. Unless more water can be diverted from the outfall, the pipe will have to be replaced at a cost of $500 million. That cost would likely double because of all the environmental problems and permitting that would be needed,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

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

Image credit: "courtroom," karen neoh © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/