The history of wastewater recycling in San Diego
In 2005, the City of San Diego conducted a Water Reuse Study at all reclamation plants in the local area, completing the first phase of its Advanced Water Purification Project. The objective of the study was to conduct an impartial, balanced, comprehensive and science-based study of all recycled water opportunities. The results of this study identified "reservoir augmentation" - or recyclcing water to boost water supplies in San Vicente Reservoir - as the preferred option for developing recycled water sources.
The City is currently in the process of the Water Purification Demonstration Project, the second phase of the Advanced Water Purification Project. The North City Water Reclamation Plant was designated as the site to construct, operate and test a system for advanced water treatment that will produce 1 million gallons of recycled water per day. The testing water will be used in San Diego’s existing "purple pipe” or non-potable water reuse system, after it has been tested. The Demonstration Project concluded in 2013, and the City issued several reports, including: the results of the demonstration testing, an economic study, the City’s public outreach efforts, and the anticipated impact of injecting recycled wastewater into the San Vicente Reservoir. At the same time, the National Water Research Institute Independent Advisory Panel, which is commissioned to provide expert peer review of the technical, scientific, regulatory, and policy aspects of the Demonstration Project, issued its report. These combined data offered the necessary information to help San Diego’s elected leaders determine if Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) is a viable process for producing a local drinking water supply source.
The San Diego City Council voted in November 2014 to offficially pursue wastewater recycling as a means to augment San Diego’s water supply, giving the green light for the next phase of the Advanced Water Purification Project to begin. A full-scale Advanced Water Purification Facility will be constructed adjacent to the North City Water Reclamation Plant. Additionally, a 23-mile pipeline will be built to transport the recycled wastewater to the San Vicente Reservoir where the water will blend with San Diego’s alternate sources of water and be treated once again before reaching the homes of San Diego.