On Tuesday, November 18th, the San Diego City Council will vote on two items that would allow the City to pursue a 20-year potable reuse program designed to reduce the outflow of sub-standard treated wastewater in our ocean, while providing a safe, reliable and drought-proof local drinking water source. A yes vote would position San Diego to become a regional and national leader in potable water recycling.

Under consideration is whether the city will move forward with a new strategy and direction for its wastewater system, including the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant and outfall, and transition efforts to large-scale potable water recycling. In addition, the City Council vote would ratify a cooperative agreement with environmental groups laying out steps to achieve both the significant reduction in discharges of treated sewage to the ocean, as well as the production of at least 83 million gallons per day of drinking water by 2035, enough to meet about 40% of the City of San Diego’s current use. The environmental groups who pushed for and negotiated the agreement include the Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter, San Diego Coastkeeper, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, and the San Diego Audubon Society. 

“The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant currently dumps up to 200 million gallons per day of partially treated wastewater into the ocean. A vote for the Pure Water Agreement, more than a decade in the making, will ensure greater protection of our marine and coastal resources,” said Roger Kube, Chair of Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter. “This agreement will significantly reduce the outflow of treated wastewater in our ocean, while providing a local, reliable water source for the City of San Diego. We’re excited about this agreement and its impact on our ocean, and it marks the start of innovative and resourceful water management strategies for a sustainable future.”

Since the late 1990’s, environmental groups have championed large-scale potable wastewater recycling as a win-win approach to solving the problem of continued sub-standard ocean discharges of treated wastewater and the need for a drought-proof source of locally-controlled water for the San Diego region. Their efforts led to two recycled water feasibility studies and a highly successful demonstration project, the results of which positioned the city to take the action being considered tomorrow. Learn more about Pure Water here.

The City Council vote is expected to take place at Council Chambers, 200 C Street San Diego on Tuesday, November 18th at 2pm.

For more information about wastewater recycling and the Pure Water program, please visit http://www.sandiego.gov/water/purewater/.