Council OKs recycled water demonstration project

The City Council Tuesday authorized a $6.6 million contract with a construction and engineering firm to build a facility to test the feasibility of using recycled wastewater to supplement San Diego’s drinking water supply.

The council voted 6-2 to authorize the three-year contract with Massachusetts-based Camp Dresser and McKee to design, build and run the Indirect Potable Reuse, or IPR, demonstration project.

Council members Sherri Lightner and Carl DeMaio cast the dissenting votes.

The demonstration project is a small-scale test of the technology used to treat wastewater to a level where it can safely be used to augment San Diego’s reservoirs. The results will be used to determine whether the city ultimately moves ahead with IPR and to secure the required health permits from the state.

The total cost of the demonstration project, which was first approved by the City Council in 2007, is $11.8 million. The funds will come from an already approved water rate hike.

Work is scheduled to begin in the fall.

None of the estimated 16 million gallons a day of treated water created during the demonstration project will be put into the reservoirs, officials assured the City Council.

Lightner said the amount of water the city will save through IPR is negligible, adding that she wouldn’t support the demonstration project unless it was part of a comprehensive plan to deal with San Diego’s water shortage problem.

There were no speakers from the public opposed to the demonstration project, which is backed by a coalition of environmental, business and community organizations.