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EPA Clears Way For San Diego To Treat Recycled Water For Drinking

The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant sits just above the ocean, Nov. 5, 2014.
Nicholas McVicker
The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant sits just above the ocean, Nov. 5, 2014.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board have finalized a wastewater discharge permit for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System five- year permit for the city of San Diego's Point Loma facility establishes discharge limits to meet federal and state water quality standards.

RELATED: San Diego Eligible To Pursue Low-Interest Federal Loan For Recycled Water Project


"The permit will protect coastal waters through its stringent terms and by reducing discharges to the ocean," said Alexis Strauss, the EPA's acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "In addition, this permit goes beyond what is necessary to meet federal and state discharge permit requirements and will require the facility to implement a water reuse program to provide a safe, reliable water supply for San Diego."

The city will rely on its Pure Water San Diego program to achieve the standards outlined in the permit. The program will use advanced water purification technology to filter recycled water to produce a reliable source of potable water.

RELATED: City Approves Permit For Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant

Eventually, the system will divert up to 83 million gallons of purified Point Loma water a day away from ocean discharges to local reservoirs instead, according to city spokesman Jerry McCormick. By 2035, the Pure Water program is expected to generate one-third of the potable water supply needed for San Diego and surrounding communities.

"The approval of the joint permit and the variance are an important milestone in the protection of both coastal water quality and improvement of local water supply reliability," said David Gibson, executive officer for the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. "The collaborative efforts of the state and regional water boards, U.S. EPA and environmental advocates have resulted in a permit and variance that advances the restoration of coastal water quality and augments municipal water supplies with high quality, safe water for the benefit of present and future generations."