A new website and two animated videos released today by the San Diego County Water Authority underscore the agency’s commitment to promote greater awareness and acceptance of potable water reuse as the region’s next major source of safe and reliable water supplies.
Using treatment processes similar to seawater desalination, several local water agencies are developing or considering potable reuse projects that rely on multiple technologies to turn wastewater into safe and reliable drinking water that meets all state and federal quality standards. The City of San Diego’s PureWater San Diego project and the East County Advanced Water Purification Program – a collaborative project of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, County of San Diego, Helix Water District, and City of El Cajon – are moving toward implementation. Similar projects are being considered or planned in other locations around the county. By 2035, the Water Authority expects that approximately 16 percent of the region’s drinking water will be produced through potable reuse.
The Water Authority teamed with its member agencies to develop the enhanced online resources. The site is at potablereuse.sdcwa.org and is accessible through the Water Authority’s homepage at sdcwa.org. It provides a high-level overview of advanced treatment technologies, a guide to local potable reuse projects, an interactive timeline of developments in potable reuse history, a library of documents, news stories and frequently asked questions. The short, fast-paced videos convey the importance of potable reuse and the technologies that make it work in an easy-to-understand way that’s ideal for sharing on social media.
The educational resources complement the Water Authority’s efforts to support local advances in water purification technology and promote the adoption of science-based regulations for potable water reuse statewide.
“By using our precious water supplies more than once, San Diego County will generate billions of gallons of water locally each year, further enhancing our water supply reliability so our semi-arid region continues to thrive,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “The Water Authority is working hand-in-hand with our member agencies to support their efforts to promote potable reuse as an important piece of our water future.”
The Water Authority has supported potable reuse for decades as part of its nationally recognized long-term water supply diversification strategy. That strategy was designed to reduce the region’s vulnerability to supply shortages by decreasing its dependence on water supplies from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provided 95 percent of the region’s water supplies in 1991. Thanks to successful and prudent investments by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies in developing new water supplies, expanding infrastructure and improving water-use efficiency, MWD now provides only about 40 percent of the San Diego region’s water supplies.
In recent years, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors supported potable reuse as the region’s most likely next source of local supply. The Board in 2014 approved a formal resolution supporting the Pure Water San Diego program, and in 2016 it adopted the 2015 Urban Water Management Plan, which identified potable reuse as the region’s next significant increment of local supply development.
The Water Authority also has taken a leading role in statewide potable reuse issues. For example, it has coordinated with its member agencies to provide input to the state’s expert panel on regulations for augmenting reservoir supplies with purified water and informed a feasibility study by the State Water Resources Control Board.
In addition, the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program – managed by the Water Authority along with the City of San Diego and County of San Diego – has supported research on potable reuse technologies by providing state grant funds to support the City of San Diego and East County projects, and a local research initiative by the Water Environment Research Foundation, formerly known as the WateReuse Research Foundation.