San Diego City Council Takes Vote on ‘Toilet to Tap’ Plan

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Sending recycled wastewater to the tap for human consumption is not a new concept in drought-ravaged California.

In Orange County, which was an early adopter of “toilet to tap” water, the local water district has been expanding its use of recycled wastewater, which is purified and pumped into an underground aquifer for later potable use.

Now, lawmakers down the coast in the state’s second-largest city are embracing toilet-to-tap water in a big way.

On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved the city’s $3.5 billion so-called Pure Water project that would utilize recycled wastewater for roughly one-third of the city’s potable water needs by 2035 and create a more stable, drought-resistant water source.

“Pure Water is an innovative project that will improve the lives of all San Diegans in every neighborhood,” Mayor Faulconer said in a statement last week. “I’m bringing people of all walks of life together—environmental groups, business organizations and regional leaders—to solve our water problems and move our city forward. This is one of the city's most critical projects that will help our region grow and thrive, and establish San Diego as a national environmental leader.”

The city, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, currently imports about 75 percent of its water after reducing that amount from 95 percent in 1991.


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