San Diego Begins Pure Water Project
The City of San Diego has reportedly entered phase one of construction in its Pure Water Project, reportedly meant to supply around half of the area’s drinking water by the end of 2025.
The project is meant to recycle wastewater straight to the tap, according to a report from CBS8. While some have referred to the process as “toilet to tap,” officials say that this was not totally accurate.
About the Project
“It never has been toilet to tap. That has never happened," said Andrew Salveson, the Carollo Water Reuse Chief Technologist.
The water reportedly goes through a thorough recycling process, which has been replicated at the Pure Water demonstration site. Dough Campbell, the deputy director of Pure Water operations, said there are five different treatment steps.
Throughout the entire Pure Water program, there are 2,400+ people working on all the projects. 550+ are city residents. As the @cityofsandiego’s largest infrastructure program, Pure Water provides jobs for our local workforce.??: The North City Pure Water Facility & Pump Station. pic.twitter.com/22Wt8S9zS6— Pure Water San Diego (@PureWaterSD) September 21, 2023
Campbell stated that water is treated at a wastewater plant before it arrives to the Pure Water site. The water then goes through the process of ozone, biologically active carbon filters, membrane filters, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet lighting.
“We've done over 50,000 tests to ensure the quality of the water is consistent 24/7, 365 and it's a very exciting part of our water supply future,” he added.
The water then reportedly goes to the Miramar Reservoir in San Diego’s Scripps Ranch community, acting as an additional way to test and treat the water. However, according to reports, the state is now looking to bypass this step, running purified drinking water straight to the tap, which, according to water technologists, has its own benefits.
“California is doing the most. If you look at the large projects being implemented in San Diego, Los Angeles and considered in northern California ... We will double or triple the amount of purified recycled water,” Salveson said.
Salveson added that more extensive water treatment would be required under these new guidelines since the new method would use more energy but could be cost effective in other ways. One benefit of the project would include reducing the city's dependence on imported water.
“It's important to note that it costs more money to move water than it does to treat water. Water is really heavy. Pumping it long distances or to basins far away makes it more expensive,” Salveson added.
San Diego also anticipates water rates to increase at a slower pace because of this new plan.
The new direct recycling method, officials say, will aid cities that lay farther from a reservoir, allowing them to have their own local water supply. The state is expected to finalize its draft for these new water recycling regulations by the end of this year.
“The San Diego efforts have really been pioneering,” Salveson added. “It's very interesting. The state's criteria already match what Pure Water San Diego has done.” Pure Water project's demonstration facility was also reportedly used as a test site in developing the new regulations.
The city’s North City Pure Water Facility was projected to be the first site in the state that follows the new five step treatment process, which reportedly closely aligns with the state's new rules for direct water recycling.
“Pure Water has another phase to it. Phase two which will improve facilities in the central part of the city so direct potable reuse might be considered in the next phase of Pure,” said Amy Dorman, the assistant director at Pure Water.