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Independent Advisory Panel

In 2009, the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department requested the National Water Research Institute of Fountain Valley, California, form an Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) to provide expert peer review of the Water Purification Demonstration Project. The 10-member panel consisted of academics and professionals with longstanding expertise in the science of water reuse. Read more here.

The IAP met 10 times over three years, and issued a summary of their findings in November 2012. They unanimously concluded that the Demonstration Project satisfied all the City Council directives and stated that a project at San Vicente Reservoir would be a landmark achievement for San Diego.

Now, four members of the panel are continuing to assist the City by providing technical and regulatory support regarding tracer and modeling studies of the San Vicente and Otay Reservoirs. They are also providing additional services, including the review and evaluation of research studies and treatment related to indirect potable reuse and possibly direct potable reuse.

The current IAP is:

  • Michael A. Anderson, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
  • James Crook, Ph.D., P.E., Water Reuse Consultant (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Richard Gersberg, Ph.D., Professor and Head, Division of Occupational and Environmental Health Director, Coastal and Marine Institute, San Diego State University
  • George Tchobanoglous, Ph.D., P.E.,Professor Emeritus University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)

California Department of Public Health

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is responsible for developing and administering regulations to protect public health in California, including permitting public water supply projects. Because the City’s reservoir augmentation project at San Vicente Reservoir would include augmentation of drinking water supplies, the project required conceptual approval from CDPH.

In September of 2012, CDPH granted San Diego conceptual approval for its reservoir augmentation concept.

There are no regulations for indirect potable reuse (IPR) with reservior augmentation or for direct potable reuse (DPR). Water Code Division 7, Chapter 7.3 directs CDPH to do the following by December 31, 2016: 1.) Develop and adopt uniform criteria for regulations for IPR, and 2.)Investigate and report on the feasibility of developing uniform criteria for DPR.

With grant funding made available by California Propositions 50 and 84, the City of San Diego has partnered with the WateReuse Research Foundation as part of the Direct Potable Reuse Initiative. San Diego is testing new equipment at the AWP Facility that could potentially be used in a direct potable reuse project. Along with this, Pure Water San Diego deputy director Marsi Steirer was appointed to CDPH's Advisory Group for the Feasibility of Developing Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse of Recycled Water. CDPH is looking to San Diego to aid in determining the feasibility of direct potable reuse projects.

San Diego Water Board

The San Diego Water Board is responsible for developing and enforcing water quality objectives for surface water and groundwater bodies within the San Diego region. Since the City’s reservoir augmentation project at San Vicente Reservoir would involve releasing purified water into San Vicente Reservoir (the required environmental buffer), the project falls under the jurisdiction of the Board.

The City submitted its proposed compliance approach (technical report) to the Water Board in August 2012. With concurrence from the U.S. EPA, the Board wrote in their February 2013 letter that its members strongly support development of a water purification facility with reservoir augmentation and the City’s approach for doing so.

Both CDPH and the Water Board remain regulators for Pure Water San Diego and its next steps.