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City Council To Consider $3B Plan To Recycle Wastewater Into Drinking Water

City Council To Consider $3B Plan To Recycle Wastewater Into Drinking Water
City Council To Consider $3B Plan To Recycle Wastewater Into Drinking Water GUEST:Erik Anderson, reporter, KPBS News

Cities that you San Diego sewer system begins to object to the Pure Water reclamation project. How some National Guard are getting big bills from the government. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It is Tuesday, October 25. Our top story San Diego's your water project is set to take its next step. Trials of the water reclamation program had been successful and now the city will go on spending millions on designs for a full-scale project. The quest to make sewage into drinkable water now has another problem to face. This new opposition from other cities to the Pure Water program. Joining me is Erik Anderson. Welcome. Thank you. What exactly is the city Council set the vote on today for the Pure Water project? They are considering a couple of things today. Some of them are contracts that allow the firms that the city has hired to continue with design work. They have to redesign the system for this Pure Water project to work. It is redesigning the current wastewater sewage plant and how the city can move that sewage around. It involves fixing a pump station, upgrading the North County water reclamation plan and making some changes in that delivery system so the water can be recovered and treated and put back into the drinking water system. They are also considering the final environmental impact report for the project. That is a necessary step for that to move forward. It is not thought to be controversial. There will be some discussion about that today. Remind us why this project is side of as transformative for San Diego. It really addresses two big problems that the city has. The first problem and really got people started thinking about this as a possibility is the fact that that wastewater treatment plant still does not meet standards. It discharges every day is not treated to the level that every other sewage plant in the country does. It is been operating for number of years but those waivers have been giving -- are getting difficult to get so there may -- looking for another solution said they would not have to pay $2 billion to bring it up to standard. What they came up with after some discussions is a Pure Water program that is redirecting the sewage, treating it and we introducing that water back into the city's drinking water system. To be recycling $83 million of -- 83,000,000 gallons of water day. Any back to that possible secondary sewage treatment plan that San Diego has been putting off for such a long time that compromise of building the Pure Water project in lieu of that treatment plant that is still has not been finally approved by the government has it works Know and it does require them for mental protection agency and the federal EPA to give its stamp of approval. There is some thought among those who are familiar with what's been going on behind the scenes as early as this week. There could be a draft permit available for public review. That is the first step that this is achievable for San Diego and the repertory level. It is something that EPA officials have indicated that they see as a viable solution. The big hurdle for San Diego is if they want to spend $2 billion to fix the sewage plant where they get no benefits but in this case, it is more than $3 billion in order to get this recycled water back into the system. Does the fact that this is still not a done deal play into the opposition from cities that contract with San Diego for sewer services. A lot of them say they don't want to see this Pure Water project move forward. It is something that they have pointed out and there is some concerns there. They don't want to pay for the project. It is going to be a tremendously expensive project for the city of San Diego to undertake. They are concerned that if the federal regulators don't buy in that the city is committed itself to investing $3 billion into a project they might have to go back and still do that $2 billion upgrade. The people who are involved in negotiations don't seem to share that fear and they suspect that some of the opposition comes from reluctance who want to pay. Be cities which basically piggyback on Sunday go sewage treatment plant do have another option if they would like, they could build their own sewage treatment plant and treat their own sewage and that they would not be subjected to any of the rate increases that they are facing. Besides of voicing their opposition, is there anything that those cities can do to stop the city of San Diego moving forward on this reclamation program? I don't get the sense that that is anywhere in the cards and the people that I've talked to they feel like they understand that there's opposition there and understand why that is. It is a money thing. They don't see it as a obstacle to keeping this project for moving forward. I have been speaking with Eric Anderson he is@Nico City Hall and thank you very much. My pressure -- my pleasure. After we got off the phone he approved the projects for the next phase of the Pure Water project.

Cities that you San Diego sewer system begins to object to the Pure Water reclamation project. How some National Guard are getting big bills from the government. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It is Tuesday, October 25. Our top story San Diego's your water project is set to take its next step. Trials of the water reclamation program had been successful and now the city will go on spending millions on designs for a full-scale project. The quest to make sewage into drinkable water now has another problem to face. This new opposition from other cities to the Pure Water program. Joining me is Erik Anderson. Welcome. Thank you. What exactly is the city Council set the vote on today for the Pure Water project? They are considering a couple of things today. Some of them are contracts that allow the firms that the city has hired to continue with design work. They have to redesign the system for this Pure Water project to work. It is redesigning the current wastewater sewage plant and how the city can move that sewage around. It involves fixing a pump station, upgrading the North County water reclamation plan and making some changes in that delivery system so the water can be recovered and treated and put back into the drinking water system. They are also considering the final environmental impact report for the project. That is a necessary step for that to move forward. It is not thought to be controversial. There will be some discussion about that today. Remind us why this project is side of as transformative for San Diego. It really addresses two big problems that the city has. The first problem and really got people started thinking about this as a possibility is the fact that that wastewater treatment plant still does not meet standards. It discharges every day is not treated to the level that every other sewage plant in the country does. It is been operating for number of years but those waivers have been giving -- are getting difficult to get so there may -- looking for another solution said they would not have to pay $2 billion to bring it up to standard. What they came up with after some discussions is a Pure Water program that is redirecting the sewage, treating it and we introducing that water back into the city's drinking water system. To be recycling $83 million of -- 83,000,000 gallons of water day. Any back to that possible secondary sewage treatment plan that San Diego has been putting off for such a long time that compromise of building the Pure Water project in lieu of that treatment plant that is still has not been finally approved by the government has it works Know and it does require them for mental protection agency and the federal EPA to give its stamp of approval. There is some thought among those who are familiar with what's been going on behind the scenes as early as this week. There could be a draft permit available for public review. That is the first step that this is achievable for San Diego and the repertory level. It is something that EPA officials have indicated that they see as a viable solution. The big hurdle for San Diego is if they want to spend $2 billion to fix the sewage plant where they get no benefits but in this case, it is more than $3 billion in order to get this recycled water back into the system. Does the fact that this is still not a done deal play into the opposition from cities that contract with San Diego for sewer services. A lot of them say they don't want to see this Pure Water project move forward. It is something that they have pointed out and there is some concerns there. They don't want to pay for the project. It is going to be a tremendously expensive project for the city of San Diego to undertake. They are concerned that if the federal regulators don't buy in that the city is committed itself to investing $3 billion into a project they might have to go back and still do that $2 billion upgrade. The people who are involved in negotiations don't seem to share that fear and they suspect that some of the opposition comes from reluctance who want to pay. Be cities which basically piggyback on Sunday go sewage treatment plant do have another option if they would like, they could build their own sewage treatment plant and treat their own sewage and that they would not be subjected to any of the rate increases that they are facing. Besides of voicing their opposition, is there anything that those cities can do to stop the city of San Diego moving forward on this reclamation program? I don't get the sense that that is anywhere in the cards and the people that I've talked to they feel like they understand that there's opposition there and understand why that is. It is a money thing. They don't see it as a obstacle to keeping this project for moving forward. I have been speaking with Eric Anderson he is@Nico City Hall and thank you very much. My pressure -- my pleasure. After we got off the phone he approved the projects for the next phase of the Pure Water project.

The San Diego City Council is scheduled on Tuesday to consider certifying an environmental impact report for the city's nearly $3 billion plan to recycle wastewater into drinking water and approving the plan itself.

The environmental impact report received unanimous backing from the council's Environment Committee two weeks ago.

Supporters of the so-called "Pure Water San Diego" program say it will provide residents and businesses with a stable, local supply of potable water that won't be affected by drought or the uncertainties of future water imports. The product will be purified and mixed with water from traditional sources before it's delivered to customers.

A city staff report said city officials aim to begin delivering 30 million gallons of recycled water a day within five years.

By the time Pure Water is fully implemented in about two decades, it will create 83 million gallons of drinking water per day. That's 33 million gallons more than the output of the desalination plant that opened last year in Carlsbad.

The project would also require the construction of water reclamation facilities, the creation of pipelines to deliver the water to area reservoirs and a way to divert runoff to those new plants, according to a staff report. Diverting the runoff into recycling plants will have the side benefit of reducing discharges from the aging Point Loma Water Treatment Plant, staff said.

Staffers found 31 potential environmental impacts but said all could be mitigated.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.