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Colorado River snakes across the Arizona-California border in Yuma, Ariz, providing the City of Oceanside with a majority of its potable drinking water. File photo
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Pure Water project may receive $6 million for construction

OCEANSIDE — The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is planning to recommend a $6 million grant award for the construction of the Pure Water Oceanside project.

Interior Secretary David. L. Bernhardt is planning to recommend the project for the grant award, which will come from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART: Title XVI WIIN Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects funding opportunity.

The Bureau of Reclamation provides grants to water districts and communities like Oceanside trying to reclaim and reuse wastewater and compromised ground and surface water in the West.

Pure Water Oceanside will purify recycled water to create a local source of potable drinking water.

Currently, the city imports about 85% of its water from hundreds of miles away at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the Colorado River.

According to Water Utilities Director Cari Dale, the Pure Water project is “drought-proof and environmentally sound.”

Pure Water Oceanside project will provide more than 32% of the city’s water supply, equating to 3- to 5-million gallons of water per day. The project will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County.

“We’re basically pioneers with our Pure Water Oceanside project,” said Councilmember Esther Sanchez at the Dec. 2 City Council meeting.

Construction of the project’s facility is already underway at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility on North River Road. Construction includes the installation of three pipelines built down North River Road, Douglas Drive and Pala Road.

Three injection wells and three monitoring wells will also be constructed for the project. Drilling of two injection wells started in November, and additional post-drilling work including testing and installation of well infrastructure will take place through next summer.

“Pure Water Oceanside will be injecting advanced treated water into the groundwater aquifer, which will increase our local water supply and increase the quality and quantity of the water in that aquifer,” said Principal Water Engineer Lindsay Leahy. “This keeps our aquifer healthy and helps to prevent any subsidence (the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land) and over-drafting (when groundwater use exceeds the amount of recharge into an aquifer).”

The city put out bids for the drilling of the project’s monitoring wells, which will be placed downstream from the injection wells to track the water flow.

The city received one bid from Yellow Jacket Drilling Services but the bid did not meet WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) funding requirements, which means the project wouldn’t be eligible for a portion of WIFIA funding. Because of this, the staff recommended council reject the bid at the Dec. 2 meeting.

Council unanimously rejected the bid, instead opting for a change order that granted the services to Nor-Cal Pump & Well Drilling, which is already contracted by the city to drill the project’s injection wells. With the additional services, the revised contract amount is now $4,428,068.

Sanchez said subsidence is a big concern.

“This is a very critical project,” Sanchez said. “We need to ensure we’re putting the right amount of water back in, and that we’re not going to have any subsidence issues. This aquifer is very critical to Oceanside, to our region.”