Mayor starts San Diego water reuse pilot project

The mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, officially launched a year-long pilot project on 30 June 2011 that is the Californian city’s next step towards indirect potable water reuse.

The 1 MGD (3,785 m³/d) project comes at a time when the city is exploring all possible options to diversify its supply of drinking water. A test facility has been built at the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where the city already purifies wastewater into reclaimed water that can be used for industrial landscaping and other non-drinking purposes.

“This pilot project is basic due diligence,” the mayor said. “At a time when all of us are concerned about the rising cost and availability of water, we owe it to our citizens to see if we can find another safe, healthy and reliable source. Like everyone else, I look forward to the results of this year-long study.”

The new facility will purify the wastewater even further – in theory, into water clean and safe enough to be pumped into the San Vincente reservoir. At present, the finished product will be pumped back into the reclaimed water system for industrial use – none of the water in this pilot study will be put into the city’s drinking supply.

This test year will provide scientific data that will help determine whether the process is clean and safe. To cover the US$ 11.8 million cost of the pilot study, the city temporarily raised water rates by 3% in January 2009, then eliminated that rate increase in September 2010 after collecting the necessary revenue.