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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Aug. 20, 2021
SAN DIEGO – History was made today as Mayor Todd Gloria, along with state and federal leaders, formally kicked off construction of Phase 1 of the City’s groundbreaking Pure Water program, which will provide nearly 50% of the City’s drinking water by 2035 and dramatically reduce the need for imported water.
“Today we celebrated the launch of the largest, most ambitious infrastructure project in San Diego’s history,” Mayor Gloria said. “The Pure Water program will guarantee us a local water resource that allows San Diego to be drought-resilient and environmentally sustainable. This is a key part of how we will provide clean drinking water to our residents for generations to come.”
Helping the Mayor celebrate the historic occasion at the North City Water Reclamation Plant in University City was Congressman Scott Peters, California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Michael S. Regan and California State Water Resources Control Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel, along with members of the San Diego City Council and representatives from local labor and environmental organizations who have been instrumental in making the program a reality.
“Sweeping drought conditions, exacerbated by climate change, population growth, and historical over-drafting of water resources, have made meeting our water needs an enduring challenge. Just this week U.S. officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, a critical water source for Southern Californians,” Congressman Peters said. “That said, San Diego has been on the leading edge of water recycling with our Pure Water program. It will deploy cost-effective technology that will enhance our region’s water sources – technology that could one day be deployed by other communities to address water shortages.”
“Pure Water is a legacy project that promises to deliver a reliable source of clean water to our region for decades to come. That is why I advocated for $50 million in this year’s state budget to support Phase 1 of this vital infrastructure project,” California Senate President Pro Tem Atkins said. “When I was a little girl, we didn’t have running water or indoor plumbing in our home, so water is a precious resource I will never take for granted. That’s one reason I have worked for 20 years on the Pure Water San Diego project, from my time on the City Council, as the Speaker of the Assembly and now as Senate President Pro Tempore. With worsening drought conditions in our state, this project is needed now more than ever.”
“Climate stress is often experienced as water stress, something California knows all too well,” EPA Administrator Regan said. “That’s why we’re prioritizing investments in innovative projects like Pure Water San Diego, which will improve the city’s resilience to climate change impacts, protect water quality, and support the local economy by creating jobs.”
“With its Pure Water project, San Diego is demonstrating how municipalities can lead the way in developing the drought-resilient infrastructure we need to face 21st-century climate challenges,” State Water Resources Control Board Chair Esquivel said. “We have been investing in this project and other recycling efforts around the state because they are a cost-effective means of developing a local water supply, which is critical to the health and sustainability of cities like San Diego as we see droughts becoming more dry and frequent.”
Pure Water will use proven purification technology to clean recycled water and produce safe, high-quality drinking water. The program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego’s water needs and will provide a reliable, sustainable supply.
Phase 1 of the project includes 11 construction projects, including the North City Pure Water Facility and Pump Station, which is being built across the road from the North City Water Reclamation Plant. The other Phase 1 projects include pump stations and pipelines.
The Pure Water facility will treat recycled water produced at the nearby North City Water Reclamation Plant to purified water standards. The Pure Water facility will feature a state-of-the-art, five-step treatment process that includes ozonation, biological activated carbon filters, membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with advanced oxidation.
Currently, the City imports as much as 90% of its water. The Pure Water Program will cut that need in half. With threats of recurring droughts in California, having a local water resource is more important than ever.
"Water is essential. It’s also becoming increasingly precious as climate change threatens water supplies” said City Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera, who represents District 9 and chairs the Council’s Environment Committee. “The City of San Diego’s Pure Water project is an ambitious and historic investment that will provide San Diegans a secure and sustainable supply of clean water for generations to come. The groundbreaking for the North City Water Reclamation Plant Expansion site is a significant milestone for this project that should be celebrated, as our City takes another big step in addressing our infrastructure needs and becoming a world-class city with world-class public services."
Two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans from the U.S. EPA are providing funding for up to $733.5 million toward the Pure Water Program’s Phase I projects. Additional funding for the construction of the project will come from Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans in the amount of $665.1 million, and more than $80 million in federal and state grants, which do not need to be repaid.
The City will also receive a $340 credit from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for every acre-foot (enough water to supply up to four households for a year) produced in the Pure Water Program for 25 years. This corresponds to a credit of $285.6 million over the life of the agreement.
Once operational, the new Pure Water facility on Eastgate Mall will have a production capacity of up to 34 million gallons a day. The purified water from the Pure Water facility will be conveyed via pipeline to Miramar Reservoir. The water will then be processed through the Miramar Water Treatment Plant before being delivered to customers. More information about the City’s Pure Water Program is available at www.purewatersd.org.