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Public Utilities

EPA Renews Permit for Point Loma Plant, Paves Way for Landmark Pure Water Project

Wastewater Treatment Plant’s Performance & City’s Commitment to Water Recycling Cited as Reasons for Permit Approval

Monday, August 7, 2017 - NEWS RELEASE

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today renewed a special five-year permit for ocean discharges from the City’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant that will ensure water quality remains high and give a boost to San Diego’s innovative water recycling program.

“This is huge for San Diego because we’ll be able to avoid unnecessary and expensive upgrades at the Point Loma plant and can instead invest those dollars to create an independent, drought-proof water supply for our residents,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “With this permit renewal, the EPA is showing strong support for our Pure Water recycling program as we chart a path toward water independence.”

The EPA is allowing the Point Loma facility to forgo secondary wastewater treatment requirements based upon the plant’s current performance, monitoring results indicating no adverse impacts to coastal waters and commitments to implement the Pure Water San Diego project, which will reduce wastewater discharge to the Pacific Ocean.

The City of San Diego must apply for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit renewal every five years and is required to meet secondary treatment levels.

The EPA may grant a modification of these standards for ocean discharges if federal and state water quality standards are met. The Point Loma plant has been operating under such a modification since 1995, consistently meeting or exceeding federal and state discharge requirements.

It’s the second EPA decision in as many months to give a boost to the Pure Water program. A few weeks ago, the EPA announced that the Pure Water program had been selected to apply for a federal loan of $492 million – giving the City access to lower interest rates and reducing the financial burden for water and wastewater ratepayers.

Pure Water San Diego is the City's phased, multi-year program that will provide one-third of San Diego's water supply locally by 2035. The Pure Water program will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to 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 water supply.

The program will eventually recycle up to 83 million gallons of wastewater per day. It is one of the major sustainability projects that support Mayor Faulconer’s Climate Action Plan.

Opened in 1963, the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant treats approximately 175 million gallons of wastewater per day generated in a 450-square-mile area by more than 2.5 million residents. Located on a 40-acre site on the bluffs of Point Loma, the plant has a treatment capacity of 240 million gallons per day.

Craig Gustafson at (619) 453-9880 or