Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday urged the the City Council to move ahead with an ambitious plan for San Diego to get a third of its drinking water through recycling by 2035.
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Rather than spend nearly $2 billion to upgrade the aging Pt. Loma Wasewater Treatment Plant, the city would invest in recycling facilities at three locations to make wastewater drinkable, producing 83 million gallons a day by 2015.
“It’s a common-sense approach that is environmentally friendly and economically sound,” said Faulconer, who was joined by leaders of environmental groups at the the city’s demonstration plant near Miramar field.
The Advanced Water Purification Facility is already producing water than is cleaner than natural sources. The project was praised by Scientific American magazine earlier this year. Halla Razak, the city’s director of public utilities, said the technology is proven and successfully in use in Orange County, Texas, Virginia and overseas.
“The water that comes from the Colorado River…has some impurities,” she noted, holding up a bottle of recycled water.
Faulconer said substituting an investment in recycled water for upgrading the Pt. Loma treatment plant requires City Council and federal approval, but noted that the Environmental Protection Agency has been “very receptive” to San Diego’s plans. “We are going to be national leaders in this,” he said.
Sean Karafin, executive director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, said recycled water makes economic sense for San Diego residents. “The science has been there for a long time. It’s tested and safe,” he said.
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