Why Should We Use Recycled Water?
Do we need recycled water in San Diego?
The City of San Diego imports approximately 90 percent of its water supply from northern California and the Colorado River. The City's other water sources are from stored local runoff and water recycling. Over the past 19 years, the City's conservation programs have helped reduce the City's dependence on imported water. Today the program saves approximately 20,000 acre feet of potable (drinking) water a year, which is enough to meet the water needs of 40,000 typical families for a year.
Even with aggressive conservation efforts, several factors indicate that the City will need 25 percent more water in 2030 than it uses today. California's access to surplus water from the Colorado River has been reduced, recurring droughts affecting imported water supplies and population projections all contribute to increased future water needs. Water is essential to our growing economy and quality of life. Increasing our use of recycled water helps diversify our local water sources.
Didn't the Imperial Irrigation District and County Water Authority water transfer agreement guarantee water for the future?
This landmark agreement will greatly benefit our region by increasing water reliability, but does not create an additional new water supply. San Diego must assure the adequacy of the City's water supply by enhancing the use of locally controlled water sources, including offsetting demand by water conservation and water recycling. Regional water supply planners typically include a component for water recycling and conservation as part of the future water supply portfolio.
Is recycled water available during a drought?
Yes, a full supply of recycled water is available during a drought and generally is not restricted for outdoor use during normal water supply conditions or droughts. During prolonged droughts, retail water providers have often restricted the use of drinking water (potable water) for outdoor use and landscape irrigation. This may result in costly replacement of plant materials. The continuous, year-round availability of recycled water is an economic and environmental benefit.
* Photo at top is landscaping at a business located in Sorrento Valley (City irrigation customer).