New Pt. Loma Permit Opens Door for Pure Water Investment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board have finalized a City of San Diego wastewater discharge permit to protect ocean water quality and increase water reuse.

The five-year permit for the City’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant establishes discharge limits to meet federal and state water quality standards.

The City will rely in part on its Pure Water San Diego program to achieve the standards outlined in the permit.

“This is huge for San Diego because we’ll be able to avoid unnecessary and expensive upgrades at the Point Loma plant and can instead invest those dollars to create an independent, drought-proof water supply for our residents,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “With this permit renewal, the EPA is showing strong support for our Pure Water recycling program as we chart a path toward water independence.”

The Pure Water program will use advanced water purification technology to filter recycled water to produce a reliable source of potable water. Eventually the system will divert up to 83 million gallons of Point Loma wastewater per day from ocean discharges to local reservoirs. By 2035, the Pure Water program is expected to generate one-third of the potable water supply needed for San Diego and surrounding communities.

The City of San Diego must apply for a permit renewal every five years and is required to collect monitoring data in water, sediment, and fish that demonstrates ocean water quality has not degraded. EPA may grant a modification of these standards for ocean discharges if federal and state water quality standards are met. The Point Loma plant has been operating under such a modification since 1995, consistently meeting or exceeding federal and state discharge requirements.

Jonathan Heller