The City’s commitment to reducing ocean discharges and implementing the Pure Water Program were significant factors in the Board’s decision to approve the modified permit.
The Pure Water Program will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. The program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego's water needs and when fully operational will provide 83 million gallons of water every day by 2035 – equal to one-third of the city’s entire water supply. It is one of the major sustainability projects that supports Mayor Faulconer’s Climate Action Plan.
“Our plan to create a sustainable, local water supply through water purification will protect our ocean and help San Diego continue to meet clean water standards,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “This is another important step to eventually reducing San Diego’s reliance on costly imported water once we implement our Pure Water Program. This is good news for San Diego families, businesses and ratepayers who want more local control over our costs and water supply reliability.”
Federal law requires all wastewater treatment plants to renew their discharge permits every five years. The City of San Diego’s renewal is for a modified permit from the EPA, based on the specific conditions of the treatment process and environmental conditions. Without this modified permit, the cost to transform the Point Loma plant to secondary treatment levels is estimated at $1.8 billion. The plant has operated under a modified permit since November 1995.
“The Regional Board’s decision represents another critical step forward in the development of the Pure Water Program. We will continue to work closely with the EPA to secure final approvals from the California Coastal Commission,” said Halla Razak, Public Utilities Department Director.
It is anticipated that the hearing before the California Coastal Commission, the final step in the permit approval process, will occur at the Commission’s May meeting in San Diego.