November 17 – Environmental Organizations Say Today’s Water Rate Increase Keeps City of San Diego in Compliance

Organizations say 2014 contract obligates City to fund Pure Water San Diego

 SAN DIEGO, November 15, 2015 – Today’s San Diego City Council vote means water rates will increase to pay for things like water infrastructure upgrades and Pure Water San Diego. Four San Diego environmental organizations say this keeps the City in compliance with the Cooperative Agreement in Support of Pure Water San Diego. This contract signed in late 2014 between the City and the environmental organizations is the most recent legal step in a long-term process to forgo costly sewage treatment plant upgrades to allow for investment in a reliable water supply created by recycling wastewater.

“Today’s water rate increase will help the City of San Diego meet a contractual implementation schedule for Pure Water and fund water infrastructure improvements to ensure the city doesn’t return to the time of once-a-day sewage spills,” said Matt O’Malley, Waterkeeper and policy director at Coastkeeper. “Pure Water will reduce wastewater discharge into the ocean and simultaneously save the City $2 billion dollars in upgrade costs to the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

On November 18, 2014, San Diego City Council unanimously approved critical elements of the Pure Water program, which set a twenty-year implementation plan and allowed City staff to move forward with permitting needed to integrate the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant into a large-scale recycling system. The plan envisioned a new era of water management and conservation in which the region will rely less heavily on imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River Basin. It also positioned San Diego as a prime example for other cities on new strategies for potable water recycling.

At the time, Council President Todd Gloria said, “With this vote we are standing up for our environment and for ratepayers. We are taking a stand for our city’s future.”

In addition to clearing the way for permits related to the potable reuse program, that unanimous decision by San Diego City Council ratified a cooperative agreement with environmental groups laying out steps to achieve both the significant reduction in discharges of treated sewage to the ocean and production of at least 83 million gallons per day of drinking water by 2035, enough to meet about 40 percent of the City of San Diego’s current use.

For the environmental organizations, this large-scale wastewater recycling was a win-win approach. The agreement aims to solve the problem of current substandard ocean discharges of treated wastewater and the need for a drought-proof source of locally controlled and environmentally friendly water for the San Diego region.

For more information on the environmental organizations please visit: San Diego Coastkeeper, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, Surfrider San Diego Chapter and San Diego Audubon Society.

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SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.