Other Water Supply Solutions

Water, Colorado Delta PeterMcBrideOur water supply imports stress the health of the Colorado River. Photo Peter McBridewater everywhere. Or is there really? Though it seems we have tons of it to drink and garden and clean and use for all our needs, San Diego is in a water supply crisis. The good news is that we have options to diversity our water portfolio, which currently relies too heavily on imported water. Check out these options we have to develop a dependable water supply in San Diego, and remember to prioritize conservation first:


This should always come first. It's free. It's healthy. It's so important it has its own water conservation page on our website.


rainwater harvestingWhat better place to find water than falling straight from the sky? Instead of buying the water that nourishes your plants, why not choose plants that come from this region and thrive on the natural rainfall here. Our friends at the California Native Plant Society and great local landscaping companies like Schmidt Design, Revolution Landscape and others can offer advice on beautiful, productive landscaping. And if you want to capture the rainwater and use it around your house and garden, there are many options. (back to top)


Graywater is water from your bathroom sinks, showers, tubs and washing machines. It contains traces of dirt, food, grease, hair and household cleaning products. While graywater may look "dirty," it is a safe and even beneficial source of irrigation water in a yard. Many simple, economical ways exist to reuse graywater in the landscape.

Using graywater can be as simple as watering plants with a bucket that catches drips from a shower, or as advanced as a whole-home plumbing system.
Coastkeeper staff tries clean waterCoastkeeper staff tries purified drinking water from a wastewater recycling center in Orange County.Learn more through the City of San Diego's graywater and County of San Diego's graywater websites. (back to top)


Look at our wastewater as a water supply resource. Currently we gather it, treat it a little bit and pump partially polluted discharge into the ocean. That is about to change. With leadership from elected officials at our city, state and federal offices, we will:

  • Gain a locally and municipally controlled source of local drinking water
  • Diversify our water supply sources
  • Reduce the City's reliance on and vulnerability to outside sources
  • Decrease ocean pollution
  • Tap an energy-efficient alternative to water imports and other mechanical solutions

Coastkeeper joined an unprecedented alliance of San Diego environmental, businesses, labor, economic growth and ratepayer advocates to bring this project to reality. The Water Reliability Coalition was awarded a 2010 Special Recognition Award from theCalifornia WateReuse Association for its advocacy work. 

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Advocacy for diverse water supply strategies lies at the heart of Coastkeeper's work. In a worldwide portfolio of solutions to scarce water supply, desalination has an important place. In San Diego County, though, we have barely scratched the surface of other, less environmentally damaging, less expensive options.

In 2010, a report from the independent, non-partisan Equinox Center ranked potential and actual water supply options according to a variety of factors, including cost, legal, technical and environmental feasibility. Desalination sits 6 out of 7, outranking only imports. Bad news for desal. Read more on why Coastkeeper supports wastewater recycling before desalination. (back to top)

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Drinkable Facts

  • Recent research estimated that gastrointestinal illnesses caused by contaminated coastal waters translated into an annual economic loss of $21 or $51 million.
  • Recent research estimated that contaminated coastal waters at beaches in Los Angeles and Orange County caused between 627,800 and 1,479,200 cases of gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • The Potable Water Reuse facility could reduce the cost to upgrade the Point Loma sewage treatment facility by almost 50%.
  • The State Water Project, which brings water from Northern California down to Southern California, uses an average 5 billion kWh/yr of electricity - making it the largest single energy user in the state.
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