We advocate for the City of San Diego to implement Indirect Potable Reuse, where highly treated wastewater supplements local reservoirs. Yes, some call it Toilet to Tap, and it’s the same—recycled water so pure we can drink it.
The benefits of Indirect Potable Reuse include:
• providing a locally and municipally controlled source of local drinking water;
• diversifying water supply sources;
• reducing the City’s reliance and vulnerability to outside sources;
• decreasing wastewater discharges to the ocean;
• providing an energy-efficient alternative to water imports and other water enhancement alternatives;
• a lower overall per unit cost than water transfers; and
• maximizing the City’s investment by taking advantage of currently underutilized reclamation and wastewater treatment facilities.
From 2007 through 2010, the San Diego City Council funded and approved several contracts for a pilot project that will demonstrate whether we can use highly treated wastewater to augment reservoirs. The demonstration project occurred as a result of the City’s 2005 Water Reuse Study, which explored various options to maximize water reuse at the City’s existing North City reclamation facility. If successful, a full-scale project could ultimately provide up to 16 million gallons per day of advanced treated water from the North City plant to augment the San Vicente Reservoir (a local drinking water source).
In 2009, Coastkeeper and Surfrider reached a Cooperative Agreement with the City that obligates San Diego to undertake a complete assessment of its sewage infrastructure to identify opportunities to maximize water reclamation regionally. Unlike the demonstration project, which is focusing on maximizing reuse from existing infrastructure, the $2 million study will examine opportunities to build new reclamation facilities to expand the City’s overall reuse capacity. If successful, the City could develop a long-term strategy to reclaim some or even all of the nearly 200 million gallons of sewage that is currently discharged to the Pacific Ocean every day, providing San Diego with much needed local supplies of water. With the City’s commitment to undertake this study, the environmental groups agreed to not oppose a final five-year waiver from secondary treatment standards at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment facility, believing that reducing or eliminating sewage discharges to the ocean provides the best long-term solution for San Diego’s water and sewage issues.
The IPR Coalition
In advocating for Indirect Potable Reuse, Coastkeeper joins an unprecedented alliance of San Diego environmental, businesses, labor, economic growth and ratepayer advocates. The Coalition was awarded a 2010 Special Recognition Award from the California WateReuse Association for its advocacy work on Indirect Potable Reuse. The IPR Coalition consists of:
• Building Industry Association
• Building Office Managers Association, San Diego Chapter
• Citizens Coordinate for Century Three
• Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation
• Endangered Habitats League
• Environmental Health Coalition
• Friends of Infrastructure
• Industrial Environmental Association
• National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, San Diego Chapter
• San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
• San Diego Audubon Society
• San Diego Coastkeeper
• San Diego Taxpayers Association
• San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
• San Diego River Parks Foundation
• Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter
• Sustainability Alliance of Southern California