San Diego, state need recycled water to meet demand

September 12th, 2014

By Jim Madaffer

Years ago when the city of San Diego attempted to implement a water purification program, fear mongers were loud. The unfavorable “toilet to tap” term was coined and the City Council chose to halt the project.

That was in the 1990s and San Diego has since moved forward with its Pure Water Program — a program that would be a proud source of safe and sustainable water for residents.

The project is a perfect example of what we should be doing around the globe — especially in an age when we are hurting more than ever for water.

About one-fifth of the world’s population lives in areas where water is scarce; proving that lack of water is an international issue. It is projected that by 2025, two-thirds of the world population “could be under stress conditions,” according to the United Nations.

In California, we’re told if we do not approve a $7.12-billion bond this November, we will face an even direr drought. It is not something worth risking for the eighth-largest economy in the world.

This is why indirect potable reuse, or toilet to tap, makes sense especially for a state that is possibly facing a “mega drought.”

Indirect potable reuse involves collecting and treating liquid waste until it meets potable water standards. The water is then filtered in potable water supply such as a reservoir or groundwater aquifer.

In San Diego, the water treatment process involves multiple steps including: a microfiltration and ultrafiltration process, a reverse osmosis process and an advanced oxidation and ultraviolet light process. It is hoped that the 20-year program, which launched this year, will supply one-third of the city’s water.

San Diego is just one example of a leader utilizing technology and common sense to meet the population’s demands for water. Orange County is another state example of a municipality implementing a successful indirect potable reuse program.

The truth is that recycled water is nothing new. We’ve been drinking the same water molecules since the world was born.

Purification programs simply increase the amount of readily available water, which is why it’s important for San Diego to update its current waiver with the EPA allowing the city to maintain its Point Loma treatment plant at its current standards. Mayor Kevin Faulconer proved his leadership this past weekend when he went to Washington D.C. to urge Congressional leaders to support San Diego’s pure water program.

These systems are the answers to California’s growing need for a reliable water supply. The Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System is the world’s largest toilet to tap system — supplying millions of gallons a day.

A system that can supply millions of gallons of water a day is something worth drinking to.

Original commentary can be found here.