CARLSBAD — With the drought showing little signs of easing up, Carlsbad leaders are taking steps to further increase water efficiency.
Earlier this month, Carlsbad City Councilmembers approved the expansion of the water recycling plant by 75 percent.
A contract of $7.3 million was awarded to Carlsbad-based CDM Constructors to design and construct the expansion of the Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility.
The expansion will nearly double the production of recycled water, from 4 million gallons a day to 7 million gallons a day.
“After the drought in the early 1990s, Carlsbad set a course to find and develop drought-proof water supplies,” said Carlsbad Public Works Director Pat Thomas. “When this expansion phase is completed in 2020, about one of every four gallons of water used in Carlsbad will be recycled water.”
Currently, the city has about 80 miles of recycled water pipeline and the expansion will also include the installation of 18 more miles.
A 1.5 million gallon reservoir will also be built.
The city has invested about $55 million in recycled water projects to date.
The funds go towards infrastructure, including the water recycling plant, pipelines, pumping stations and storage, which has a 35.5 million gallon capacity.
Over the last 10 years, the city has more than doubled its recycled water consumption.
Carlsbad has more recycled water meters than any other water district in San Diego County, according to the city’s Communications Manager Kristina Ray.
Recycled water isn’t subject to the same drought restrictions as potable water. It’s also about 16 percent cheaper because the Carlsbad Municipal Water District controls the price.
City officials recognize the importance of recycled water, because outdoor irrigation consumes the most water.
By using recycled water for irrigation, residents and businesses can save drinking water.
Legoland, the Flower Fields, and some golf courses already use recycled water.
In May, the city approved the expansion of recycled water pipelines into the Palomar Airport Business Park along Camino Vida Roble and into Calavera Hills along Carlsbad Village Drive.
The Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility is located next to the Encina Water Pollution Control Facility and is operated by the Encina Wastewater Authority.
The city also has two other supply sources managed by the Vallecitos Water District and the Leucadia Wastewater District.
The funding comes from state and federal grants and a loan from the State Water Resources Control Board.
Water district enterprise funds have also been set aside for the expansion of the reclaimed water network.
Mayor Matt Hall asked Caltrans officials at a recent meeting if the city could put in more reclaimed pipes to the northern portion of the city as part of the Interstate-5 widening and railroad double-tracking.
Alan Kossup corridor director of state Route 76 and the Interstate 5 at Caltrans seemed receptive to the idea and said it was something Caltrans staff could look into.
Construction on I-5 begins next fall.
CMWD estimates 90 percent of the design for the Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility will be done by this December.