Oceanside’s Plan To Recycle Water Gets A Boost From The EPA


A crane working at the Oceanside Water Reclamation facility where a Purewater...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: A crane working at the Oceanside Water Reclamation facility where a Purewater plant will turn wastewater into water that’s clean enough to drink, on Sep. 17, 2020.

Oceanside’s major water reclamation project is getting a financial injection from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA is loaning Oceanside nearly $70 million to help finance the city’s water reuse plans. The San Diego County city currently imports most of its water from the Sacramento Bay-Delta and the Colorado River.

The federal loan for the $158 million project will ultimately help Oceanside generate three to five million gallons of drinking water a day.

“We will be reusing the recycled water that we would normally discharge into the ocean,” said Lindsey Leahy, Oceanside principal water engineer. “Put it through an extensive and high-quality treatment process and then be able to distribute it to the city as a local source of drinking water.”

RELATED: First Pure Water Plant In San Diego County Breaks Ground In Oceanside

City officials say the treated wastewater will be pumped into an underground aquifer and the water will be treated again when it is drawn out. They hope the project helps Oceanside realize a long-term goal of having half of the city’s drinking water come from local sources.

EPA officials backed the plan because the agency says Oceanside Purewater helps address a number of local issues.

“You have groundwater recharge,” said David Ross, an assistant administrator at the EPA. “You have saltwater intrusion barrier protection. You’re looking at reducing discharges into the ocean, obviously one of the great drivers of the economy in Southern California. You also are going to distribute some of that water out for use in agriculture, business and residential.”

This facility could become the first of its kind to open for business in San Diego County. Officials expect that to happen in 2023.

Meanwhile, the city of San Diego is moving forward with a $3 billion water purification project that could generate 30 million gallons of fresh water a day.

That would amount to one-third of the city’s water supply by 2035.


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Erik Anderson

Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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