Frequently Asked Questions
What is the East County Advanced Water Purification Program?
The East County AWP Program will create a local, clean, safe and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology for East County San Diego residents and businesses.
Why is East County AWP needed?
Currently East San Diego County is highly reliant on water that is imported from hundreds of miles away. This Program will create a reliable and sustainable drinking water source that will reduce dependence on imported water. It will produce up to 30 percent of east county’s drinking water.
What are the benefits to this program?
The East County AWP offers many benefits to East San Diego County customers! These benefits include:
1. Provides a clean, safe and high quality drinking water source
2. Creates a new and clean water source
3. Supplies 30 percent of a local water source that is reliable and uninterruptable during periods of drought
4. Helps sensitive ecosystems and the environment
5. Safeguards the region’s economy and way of life
Is this kind of water reuse project being done elsewhere?
Yes! The same water purification process is already used around the world and is as close as Orange County. Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System has been in operation since 2008 and is now the world’s largest advanced water purification facility, serving a million residents and business including Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Even closer, the City of Oceanside is now operating the same type of project and City of San Diego’s project is in construction
How much drinking water will the Program create?
The East County AWP will produce up to 30 percent of east county’s drinking water supply, up to 11.5 million gallons of water each day.
How much does the Program cost?
The project will cost approximately $950 million. The Joint Powers of Authority has secured over $935 million in low interest loans, grants and incentives to fund the program, and continues to work at securing additional funding.
How will the Program impact my water and sewer bill?
The East County Advanced Water Purification Program water and wastewater costs will be lower than doing nothing and remaining status quo. The East County AWP Program is a smart investment as the cost of imported water and wastewater treatment continues to rise. Grant and low-interest loan resources are being maximized from local, regional, state and federal agencies. To date the project has secured over $169 million in grant funding and $766 million in low-interest loans. The Project team continues to work on securing additional funding. All of this funding reduces impacts to ratepayers and makes the Program cost effective and a smart investment.
Are pharmaceuticals, hormones, personal care products, PFAS/PFOA removed during the purification process?
Yes. The advanced technology creates extremely clean and safe drinking water. The purification process removes viruses, bacteria, salt, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and more.
When will the purified water flow through water faucets?
The purified water is expected to be distributed to water customers starting in early 2026.
Does the purification process require a lot of energy?
The purification facility will use less than half the energy required to transport water from Northern California to Southern California.
How does East County AWP compare with desalination?
Purifying wastewater is about one-third the cost of ocean desalination because removing the ocean’s high concentration of salt requires three times more energy, additional membranes and results in a shorter membrane life span resulting in increased maintenance costs.
How will the Program affect the quality of water and/or fish in Lake Jennings?
The addition of the purified water to the Lake Jennings will meet all regulatory requirements for water quality in the reservoir. Studies and research prior to program approval showed there would not be an impact to fish or wildlife in the reservoir.
Lakeside will be impacted by construction but will it have any benefits from this Program?
Lakeside benefits from the project through its wastewater being treated and recycled locally by the Program instead of traveling 20 miles to be treated by the City of San Diego. It also receives the benefit of an additional local water supply.
Do you offer project tours?
We offered a robust tour program prior to construction of the Program. We plan to restart tours once construction ends and our visitor center is ready to host the community. We do have a 360-degree video which takes you on virtual tour of our demonstration facility prior to it being demobilized to prepare the land for construction. Click here to watch!
How does the Joint Powers Authority work?
The Joint Powers Authority is the governing agency for the Program. Its members are Padre Dam Municipal Water District, County of San Diego and City of El Cajon. The JPA is a collaborative regional solution to water and wastewater to recycle and reuse as much of our limited water supply as possible. Helix Water District serves as a collaborative but non-voting member of the JPA.
If I have a problem or question, who do I contact?
Where will construction of the project occur?
Construction of the treatment and purification facilities will take place in Santee to the north of the Santee Lakes campground. The majority of the pipeline work will take place in Santee, Lakeside and through the unincorporated area of the county to reach Lake Jennings. There’s also pipeline work that will take place in an existing wastewater pipe in Mission Trails Regional Park.
Who do we contact with questions during construction?
How can I track progress of the construction near me?
There is an interactive construction map at the website EastCountyAWP.com. The map will have information about where construction is currently happening.