KPBS News 10/13/2014
Bringing a local supply of drinking water to the East County is the goal of a new $275,000 demonstration project that focuses on expanding the Padre Dam’s recycling facility in Santee.
Officials with the Padre Dam Municipal Water District broke ground Monday on the project that will be carried out over at least 12 months to see if expanding the recycling facility is feasible. Also participating are the Helix Water District, city of El Cajon and San Diego County.
With California’s ongoing drought and the cost to import water from outside sources continuing to rise, East County water agencies hope to create a locally controlled supply. They’re using new technology to treat wastewater from other water districts and turn it into drinking water.
“We’re talking about a local, reliable, water supply for East County, San Diego County,” said Allen Carlisle, CEO of the Padre Dam.
The Padre Dam water recycling facility currently treats 50 million gallons of wastewater every day, but 14 million gallons that’s not treated for reuse is sent 20 miles to San Diego’s wastewater treatment plan. It’s treated there and then discharged into the ocean.
The goal of this project is to turn much of the water that’s going into the ocean into drinking water for the East County. It could be used for groundwater recharge, reservoir augmentation and other reuse opportunities, officials said.
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob hopes the study will lead to independence from relying on imported water from Sacramento and the Colorado River.
“This project could benefit other parts of the region, not just the East County, in that there would be less sewage flow that would go into the Point Loma plant and (the) city of San Diego would have less responsibility,” Jacob said.
To fund the study, the Padre Dam water district, Helix Water District, El Cajon and San Diego County are paying $50,000 each. A state grant is paying the remaining $75,000.
Click here to see the video on KPBS.