Rep. Mike Levin (center) and other regional political and water officials celebrate the groundbreaking. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Oceanside officially broke ground Wednesday on an innovative water recycling plant that will provide 32% of the city’s water supply in future years.

Although San Diego is working on a similar and larger project, Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced purification facility in the county.

The plan will use microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light to purify wastewater from the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility, reducing the city’s reliance on water imported from the Colorado River and Sacramento Bay Delta.

“Today is about Pure Water Oceanside being on the map,” said Cari Dale, the city’s water utilities director. “The science we are using is proven and already in use around the world.”

The groundbreaking ceremony included putting a giant Google Maps-style location pin into the ground at the site near Whelan Lake. Behind the pin and a storage tank, construction equipment was already digging the recycling plant’s foundation.

“We need to pursue new and innovative solutions to protect our land and water for future generations,” said Rep. Mike Levin, who helped place the pin. “Pure Water Oceanside exemplifies a commitment to doing what is right for our planet.”

Sandy Kerl, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, said the recycling process represents an acceleration of the way clean water is produced in nature.

“Pure Water Oceanside is inspired by the natural water cycle,” she said. “We’ve been drinking recycled water our entire lives.”

In addition to reducing the city’s reliance on imported water, the recycled water will be used to recharge the city’s naturally occurring underground aquifer called the Mission Basin.

The $67 million project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Digging the foundation for the Pure Water Oceanside facility. Photo by Chris Jennewein
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Chris Jennewein

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