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City Of San Diego Proposes ‘Toilet To Tap’ Water Program

Created: 26 December, 2014
Updated: 26 July, 2022
3 min read

South Bay may get double loading of ocean discharge

By Barbara Zaragoza

Imperial Beach Councilmember, Ed Spriggs, expersses his concerns at the toilet to tap water community meeting.
Imperial Beach Councilmember, Ed Spriggs, expersses his concerns at the toilet to tap water community meeting.

The City of San Diego Planning Department held an environmental scoping meeting on Tuesday, December 9th at the South Bay Recreation Center. The aim was to receive public input on the proposed Pure Water program, also known as the ‘toilet to tap’ program.

Amer Barhoumi, Associate Engineer from the city’s Public Utilities Department, gave a presentation, explaining that San Diego currently imports 85% of its water. The twenty year Pure Water Program could eventually create up to 83 million gallons per day of locally controlled water—or one-third of San Diego’s future water supply.

Barhoumi said, “It’s basically an uninterruptable water source. It’s a proven technology that has been implemented elsewhere.

For instance, it’s been implemented in Singapore, in Virginia and also in Orange County and it provides a locally controlled, drought-proof water supply.”

Since 2009 a demonstration project plant has been producing 1 million gallons of recycled water per day. The City has conducted over 9,000 lab tests and the results have routinely met all the standards. The final product, in fact, has been as exceptional as distilled water.

The proposal also suggests construction of advanced water purification facilities on vacant land adjacent to the existing reclamation plants in North City and the South Bay. A third facility would be built on Harbor Drive.

“We have another sewer pump station that will be pumping sewer back South. As I mentioned earlier, the size of this facility is still in flux right now. We’re trying to figure out how to minimize flow to South Bay and whatever we divert, basically we’re going to try and hopefully consume, and not let it go out of the outfall,” Barhoumi said.

The meeting was then open to public comments.

Joel Young said, “I guess my concern is the rationale for building the pumping station or the purification plant on Harbor Drive. It seems like a very high value area to be using for that purpose.”

Imperial Beach Councilmember, Ed Spriggs also attended the meeting. He voiced concerns over whether there would be increased South Bay ocean outfall flow. He said, “This is something that effects the City of Imperial Beach because we have already over many years struggled to overcome the impression of the ocean environment not being the best because of flows from Tijuana and Mexico and flows from the Tijuana River.”

Scott Andrews agreed in his public comment. “… this area has double loading of undertreated ocean discharge from two major cities. The northerly currents bring that water to San Diego beaches and Imperial Beaches and the impaired water body of San Diego Bay… I also want a timeline… showing that the San Diego discharge returns at minimum to the same levels of today after four billion dollars are spent.”

You can sign up for a tour of the demonstration plant or voice your concerns here: