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North San Diego County Ramps Up Water Recycling

A map detailing the trail of purple pipes in North San Diego County.
Olivenhain Municipal Water District
A map detailing the trail of purple pipes in North San Diego County.

North San Diego County Ramps Up Water Recycling
After connecting the Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe with purple pipes, recycled water is coming to the Village Park area of Encinitas.

North County is taking further steps to reclaim water what would otherwise be treated and pumped out to the sea.

Last week, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District paired with the Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe to convert the golf course's irrigation system to recycled water. Spokesmen with the water district said purple pipes that carry recycled water will supply up to 215 acre-feet a year of water to the golf course.

One acre foot of water can supply five families of four for a year.

Now the water district is working to connect a water reclamation plant with the Village Park area of Encinitas, expecting to supply up to 350 acre feet a year.

Recycled water is not purified to the point of being drinkable, and it requires a separate set of pipes to convey it. In California, the pipes are colored purple to distinguish them from pipes carrying potable water.

But Joey Randall, with the Olivenhain district, said investing in the pipes is worth it.

"Each drop of water we convert from the potable system is a drop of water conserved," he said.

In the City of San Diego, water recycling is being redirected at creating a system in which waste water is purified, and placed back into reservoirs to be reused as drinking water. Indirect potable reuse, as it's called, has the advantage of not requiring an extra set of pipes to separate water for irrigation from drinking water.

But Randall said water purification is not practical in every situation. And recycling water for irrigation has the advantage of requiring a lower level of treatment.

"We want to keep all the tools in our tool box," he said. "And recycled water and purple pipe is one of those tools by which we can combat the drought, and do our part to offset those potable demands."

Randall said recycled water will irrigate an area of Encinitas that includes housing developments, two elementary schools and a small golf course. He expects the water to start flowing to the Village Park area in 2016.