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Frequently Asked Querstions

Is The City Recycling Water Now?

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What is the status of the City's recycled water program?

The City of San Diego began deliveries of recycled water to customers in 1997 and operates two state-of-the-art water recycling facilities. The larger plant is the North City Water Reclamation Plant, which opened in 1997. The smaller is the South Bay Water Reclamation Plant, which opened in 2002. The recycled water distribution system includes 66 miles of separate pipelines, four pump stations, nine pressure-reducing stations and a nine million gallon reservoir.

The North City facility is currently treating an average of 22.5 million gallons of wastewater per day to the secondary treatment level. Of these 22.5 million gallons, an annual average of 5 million gallons is further treated to the tertiary level to produce recycled water that is distributed to customers. By late 2004, additional customers will be receiving recycled water from the North City facility, increasing the production to an annual average of 6 million gallons per day.

The South Bay facility is currently treating approximately 5-6 million gallons of wastewater per day to the secondary level and is discharging it into the ocean through the South Bay Ocean Outfall. Final certification to produce recycled water is expected soon from a state regulatory agency. Agreements are in place to deliver 6 million gallons of recycled water per day to customers once construction of the distribution system is completed.

Will the City need a new water recycling facility to produce more recycled water?

At this time, a new facility would not be needed. Both of the City's current facilities were designed to handle future wastewater flows and produce more recycled water. As more customers come on line, the North City facility will be able to produce nearly 30 million gallons of recycled water per day and the South Bay facility can produce nearly 15 million gallons per day.

Does the demand for recycled water vary seasonally?

Recycled water production is affected by seasonal water use. A majority of the City's current recycled water customers use the water for landscape irrigation. Typically, customers use twice as much recycled water for irrigation in the warm summer months than in winter. Because of these varying demands, about half of the water recycling facility's potential treatment capacity (on average) may be unused for part of the year.

Will the study address the seasonal demands for recycled water?

Yes, this is one of the topics being addressed by the Water Reuse Study. The City wants to optimize the production and use of recycled water in San Diego. The study will look at ways to store or utilize recycled water produced in the winter that would not be utilized by irrigation customers.

* Photo at top is landscaping at a business located in Sorrento Valley (City irrigation customer).