OCEANSIDE — The city broke ground on Feb. 19 for a new project that will purify recycled water for the public to drink.
Located at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility, Pure Water Oceanside is a project that will use advanced technology to essentially copy and speed up nature’s water cycle.
The project will provide 3 to 5 million gallons of drinking water per day, which is more than 32% of the city’s water supply. It is scheduled for completion before the end of 2021.
According to Water Utilities Director Cari Dale, who spoke at the event celebrating the project’s groundbreaking on Feb. 19, Pure Water Oceanside will reduce the city’s dependence on imported water by 30%.
“We rely on imported water, but this source requires an enormous amount of energy to transport and is vulnerable to natural disasters,” Dale said. “Pure Water Oceanside will address these challenges, diversifying our city’s water supply, safeguarding against drought and providing an environmentally friendly alternative.”
The project will also recharge the Mission Basin Aquifer, improve water quality and prevent saltwater intrusion, Dale said.
The project costs $67 million. According to Dale, the Metropolitan Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority together are allocating approximately $25 million over the next 15 years.
Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County. Two other projects are in the works, including the city of San Diego’s Pure Water project and East County’s advanced purification program led by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District.
Orange County is the closest place to San Diego that has its own recycled water purification facility.
According to Sandy Kerl, general manager of the San Diego Water Authority, San Diego County is now able to have its own potable recycled water facilities because regulations are now in place and the economics make sense.
“When you’re talking about a public water supply you have to make sure that it’s absolutely safe for the public,” Kerl told The Coast News. “Because water is a scarce commodity … this is a way to have new water come into the system to reuse it.”
Kerl also spoke at the groundbreaking event, where she stressed how important water is for the region.
“It’s easy for us to take for granted this water situation,” Kerl said. “It is important to remember that water is essential to our region’s prosperity.”
Kerl noted benefits from the project include allowing sensitive ecosystems to retain more of their natural water source, reducing water discharge into the ocean and maximizing the region’s limited water sources.
Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) also spoke at the event, highlighting the project’s “creativity in engineering a solution” to a scarce water supply threatened by droughts.
“We need to pursue new and innovative solutions to protect our land and water for future generations, and Pure Water Oceanside is a great example of just that type of project, just that type of solution for our district and our region,” Levin said.