The East County Advanced Water Purification program unveiled a 360-degree virtual reality tour video Monday, allowing viewers to virtually view the program’s facilities.

Viewers are greeted by the program’s “Big Deal” animated mascot. They are brought to a guided tour of water facilities, allowing people to look around by simply moving their computer mouse or phones to anywhere in the video. Locations include the Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility, the East County AWP Demonstration Facility and Lake Jennings.

Viewers with a virtual reality headset for cell phones can take the engagement one step further by “stepping into” the video. Program representatives will also begin scheduling opportunities for community groups, schools and scouts to view the video using program-provided virtual reality goggles starting this month.

“Bringing this fun, easy to understand and immersive tour to East County’s water and wastewater customers is an important and unique educational resource,” said Kyle Swanson, director of the East County AWP. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we averaged more than 1,000 people annually touring our facility, many of whom were eager students wanting to learn about this important water resource.”

“This virtual tour helps to refill the learning need and will also be helpful while the East County AWP progresses towards the construction phase,” Swanson said.

Scheduled to be complete in 2025, the program is a partnership between four agencies: Padre Dam Municipal Water District, county of San Diego, city of El Cajon and the Helix Water District.

The program is intended to use four advanced water purification steps to produce water that is near-distilled in quality. After the advanced water purification process, the purified water will be blended with water in Lake Jennings and treated again at the R.M. Levy water treatment plant before being distributed as drinking water.

In addition to providing a new local water supply, the program is intended to eliminate the need to send most of East County’s wastewater to San Diego’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it is currently treated and then discharged into the ocean.

To watch the 360-degree virtual reality video and learn more about the program, go to

City News Service contributed to this article.

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