Pure Water San Diego demonstration plant
The Pure Water San Diego demonstration plant in Miramar. Courtesy of the city

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two bills that are critical to San Diego’s plans for improved mass transit and water recycling for long-term drought protection.

On Friday night the governor signed Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s Assembly Bill 1413, which will support local referendums on transit funding, and Assembly Bill 1290 by Gloria and Sen. Toni Atkins that clears the way for the pioneering Pure Water project.

The transit bill allows local transportation authorities to seek voter approval of taxes that apply only where transit is planned. The bill was written for the San Diego Association of Governments, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, the North Country Transit District, the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, and the Solano Transportation Improvement Agency.

“This bill can transform how we invest in local transportation infrastructure, and how we make real progress on transportation improvements in California,” said Gloria. “Under AB 1413, these local jurisdictions can focus on building specific projects in specific communities and allow the residents who directly benefit to decide if those efforts are worthwhile. This bill is about progress over gridlock, and I am thrilled Governor Newsom has signed it into law.”

The second bill resolved a legal dispute that has stalled the beginning of construction of the Pure Water project since June. The project had been sued over its requirement of using union labor, but the state bill makes using union labor a condition of receiving funding.

“AB 1290 helps ensure the timely and cost-effective construction of Pure Water San Diego, the vitally important project to ensure our region has a reliable supply of safe water,” said Atkins. “We have been working on this project for a long time, and I am grateful to Assemblymember Todd Gloria for introducing AB 1290 — and Governor Newsom for signing it — to remove one of the last remaining obstacles in Pure Water’s path.”

Pure Water will provide one-third of the city’s water supply by 2035 through recycling wastewater into drought-proof drinking water. The project, largely financed through a loan from the California Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is one of the largest water recycling projects in the United States.

“The Pure Water program represents the next major increment of water supply within the San Diego region — a locally controlled water supply that is not subject to a rapidly changing climatology and hydrology affecting the state’s snowpack and water supply availability,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority. “We believe Governor Newsom’s signature of AB 1290 will allow the Pure Water Program to continue to advance within its construction timeline and schedule to bring those vital water supplies on-line to our region.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.