Wastewater Recycling: Creating Water So Pure We Can Drink It

Written by  Hillary Shipps
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Wastewater recycling, reclaimed water, and Indirect Potable Reuse (or IPR) are all ways of treating wastewater and reusing it rather than treating it and dumping it into the ocean.

San Diego reuses wastewater for irrigation, in its purple pipe system.  Purple pipe is so-named because it requires two sets of plumbing, one for drinking water (potable use) and a second (purple) set for reclaimed water for irrigation.  It’s easy enough to install when constructing a new building, but otherwise it’s a major retrofit, and either way it’s not cheap.  But during a bad drought in 1989, purple pipe was touted as the only way we would

009682-s

Photo Credit Lighthawk / Matthew Meier Photography

make it through with enough potable water for showers and drinking.  The City Council even passed an aggressive ordinance to force anyone who could reasonably use reclaimed water for irrigation or industrial uses to do so.  But the drought ended, and since then the ordinance has been largely forgotten and essentially unenforced.  In fact, according to a Sign On San Diego article, San Diego only uses 15 percent of its two reclaimed water plants’ capacity.

 

Now, the city is taking another look at wastewater recycling for drinking water.  (Check out how purple pipe and IPR compare – spoiler, IPR wins.)  Mayor Jerry Sanders supports a new demonstration project to test the safety of IPR for drinking water – a definite improvement on his previous stance of ceremonially vetoing the “toilet to tap” project.  The latest test builds on the successful use of wastewater recycling in:

  • Singapore, where they use reservoir augmentation, the very same process proposed for San Diego, and bottle and sell the stuff under the brand name NEWater

  • And closer to home, Orange County, where they use wastewater recycling for groundwater replenishment

The demonstration project will last a year and is required by the California Department of Public Health to prove the project adequately protects the public health.  Tours of the facility are open to the public so you can see the high level of treatment the water receives.

The Advanced Water Purification process, which consists of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and treatment with hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light, actually removes more contaminants from the water supply than do the processes used to clean raw imported water.  IPR water has been found to contain lower levels of all but six of the 232 tested pollutants, and those six were all still below levels that cause health concerns (check out page 108 of this report for details). The tested pollutants include pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupters, which are a common concern about IPR water.

In the words of Ronald Coss, the technical manager of the Water Reuse Study that made the above finding, “the human health risk from consuming [IPR water] directly is negligible, especially when compared to current drinking water standards and with other water supplies available to San Diego.  Augmenting San Diego’s raw water supply with [IPR water] would result in an improvement to water quality over current water supplies.” 

Read 6046 times

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

Take Action

Donate Now

Donate to San Diego Coastkeeper

Donate to San Diego Coastkeeper

With you, we can protect San Diego’s aquatic playgrounds. Gifts of every size help us defend your salty seas and beautiful bays. From test tubes in our lab to hands-on...

Read more

Become a Member

IMG_7706

Start Coastkeeping. Become a member today and protect and restore swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters in San Diego County.

 

Report a Problem

plastic-beach-feat
Catch the Polluters

If you see someone pollute, report it to Coastkeeper. Let us help you protect your waters.

Attend an Event

No events found

Get the News

Read our Blog

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

“I Would Vacuum The World!”

“I Would Vacuum The World!”

Without question, my favorite task as part of the education team at San Diego Coastkeeper is teaching lessons for ProjectSWELL. Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership), a school-based science...

Port Funds $2.5M to Protect Water and Co…

Port Funds $2.5M to Protect Water and Communities

"The San Diego Unified Port District will protect the Tidelands Trust resources by providing economic vitality and community benefit through a balanced approach to maritime industry, tourism, water and land...

Two Hours: Tell Governor Brown We Need W…

Two Hours: Tell Governor Brown We Need Water Quality Results Faster

This last legislative session was good for California's waters. Our elected officials passed a package of bills to initiate regulation on the use of our overtapped groundwater resources, -- a...

New Classroom Presentations Teach Studen…

New Classroom Presentations Teach Students About Our Most Precious Resource

As this historic drought continues, it’s easy to see how dependent we are on water. Allowing students at a young age to explore the water in their communities creates a...

17th Annual Seaside Soiree Raises $30,00…

17th Annual Seaside Soiree Raises $30,000!

Wow! The Seaside Soiree was a lot of fun and a huge success. It was great to talk to you about your vision for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San...

2014 Seaside Soiree Auction List: more p…

2014 Seaside Soiree Auction List: more prizes than you can shake a fish at

This year's Seaside Soiree will feature the following incredible prize packages for auction. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, buy them now here! Food. Drinks. Fishy Dance Moves.September 10, 2014.6pm...

Staying Safe and Staying Green

Welcome to part four of our five part blog series (see part one and two, three and five) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego's very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve...

Marine Ecology 101

Marine Ecology 101

Welcome to part two of our three part blog series (see part one, three, four and five) on the best ways to enjoy San Diego's very own ASBS and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve...

Five Ways to Make a Difference

Five Ways to Make a Difference

Looking for an easy way to help improve San Diego's beaches, bays and rivers? Here at San Diego Coastkeeper, we take tremendous pride in our efforts to protect our fishable, swimmable...

Cultivating Stewardship Downtown

Cultivating Stewardship Downtown

After a long time on the waiting list, my mother and I received custody of a large wooden box full of dirt that sits in an old vacant parking lot...

  • Video
  • Facebook Fans
Join Our Newsletter
  • EarthShare_Californiaweb

SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER
2825 Dewey Rd., Ste. 200 • San Diego CA 92106 • TEL. 619.758.7743