Recycled Water Facilities Closer to Reality as Regional Environmental Report is Approved

On behalf of its North San Diego Water Reuse Coalition partners, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors certified at its October 14 meeting the Final Program Environmental Impact Report for the North San Diego Water Reuse Coalition Regional Recycled Water Project.

The Program Environmental Impact Report was prepared to establish baseline conditions for the project and to disclose the totality of potential environmental impacts and mitigations necessary to complete its construction.

The project is a comprehensive, cross-jurisdictional partnership matching areas of high recycled water demand to facilities that can produce enough recycled water to meet that demand. The project also explores implementing advanced water treatment to reuse water for potable purposes. Water recycling and reuse reduces North County’s dependence on increasingly scarce and expensive imported water, and helps the agencies to achieve the state-mandated potable water reduction of 20 percent by the year 2020.

“Our region has established a tradition of collaboration and cooperation among neighboring agencies and cities,” said Ed Sprague, President of the OMWD Board of Directors. “This is yet another mutually beneficial infrastructure project that will allow us to better serve our ratepayers and the residents of North County.”

“With the need to diversify and look to all sources of water, the coalition has brought both sides of our industry together, adding the reuse of our wastewater resources to the region’s portfolio and looking to the protection of the ocean by reducing or eliminating ocean discharges of treated water,” explained Dennis Lamb, General Manager of Vallecitos Water District.

The participating agencies—Carlsbad Municipal Water District, City of Escondido, Leucadia Wastewater District, City of Oceanside, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Vallecitos Water District, and Vista Irrigation District—began collaboration in 2010 to more cost-effectively reduce potable water use at a regional level through water recycling and reuse. Work on the Program Environmental Impact Report followed in 2010 when the coalition developed its first memorandum of understanding.

The group developed a Regional Recycled Water Facilities Plan in 2011, and many individual construction elements of the project have already begun. Upon completion of all long-term project elements, the North San Diego Water Reuse Coalition Regional Recycled Water Project will add nearly 32 million gallons per day of recycled water and potable reuse water to North County’s water supply portfolio, offsetting the annual water demand of over 70,000 households.

“I strongly support cost-effective, regional solutions for developing critical water infrastructure,” said David Zito, Solana Beach Deputy Mayor and Chair of San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, “especially when these projects create locally produced, drought-resistant water supply.”

To date, the project has earned nearly $5 million dollars in grant funding from the California Department of Water Resources. Additionally, the coalition continues to work with San Diego County’s federal representatives in hopes of achieving up to $50 million in federal funding for the project. These pursuits have significantly reduced the costs of infrastructure investment to North County ratepayers.

“Once again, our region is showing a proactive approach by expanding the ways we provide water to our ratepayers,” said Kimberly Thorner, General Manager of OMWD. “This multi-agency approach establishes a workable method to water reuse throughout North County. Ultimately, it will expand our ability to provide water to our customers while protecting ratepayer funds.”

“Rincon Water is very proud to be a member of the NSDWRC, working closely together with sister agencies to produce a sustainable water portfolio for our customers’ long-term benefits,” affirmed Greg Thomas, General Manager of Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District.