Good things are happening in California. Primarily driven by water scarcity and commitment to resilient infrastructure, communities and organizations across the state are working together to purify and reuse water previously returned to the ocean. Benefits include environmental protection, optimized investment and asset management, and development and maintenance of a more resilient water supply.
The City of San Diego stands out as an example. Pure Water San Diego shows what happens when a community considers the interconnectedness of resources and interests of everyone to preserve a healthy environment for the future. Linked to the city’s sustainability program, the phased, multi-year Pure Water program will recover and purify enough water to provide more than 40 percent of the city’s water supply and substantially reduce the need for imported water by 2035.
The city’s Public Utilities Department oversees the Pure Water San Diego program and additionally contributes to sustainability through conservation measures and production of recycled water for irrigation and other non-potable use. With San Diego’s existing water system, approximately 8 percent of the water that leaves homes and businesses is recycled; the rest is treated and discharged into the ocean.
San Diego’s leadership in the regulation of reservoir augmentation enabled the highly reliable Pure Water supply that will reduce ocean discharges significantly.
A Win from the Start
Black & Veatch has been part of the development team since its conceptualization in 2008. Company involvement spans planning through construction and includes collaboration with other engineering and construction companies as well as city leaders and staff. One of the most important Pure Water contributions from Black & Veatch came early, when the company helped establish extensive program support that has positioned the city and program for ongoing success.
The Pure Water program was born from the Recycled Water Study, jointly led by Black & Veatch. It was clear that any water management approach to advance water reuse in San Diego would need to incorporate diverse inputs and gain widespread agreement. To build consensus and identify solutions acceptable to all, the city invited community leaders and representatives from local planning groups, businesses, and environmental organizations to form a Pure Water Working Group.
“The city faced countless challenges including balancing Pure Water’s costs with the community’s environmental and social interests – all of which seemed to compete against each other at first,” said Black & Veatch’s Kevin Davis, who currently serves as project director for the Pure Water San Diego construction management team. “Consummate planning helped the city and Working Group members coalesce around an optimal vision for water management and greater sustainability.”
As the Pure Water San Diego team pursues this vision with a formal Phase 1 construction kickoff in late August, the program represents a win that will keep the community strong for many years. It also is a showcase for others seeking water security and independence.