CARLSBAD — In yet another step to further protect against drought, the city of Carlsbad unveiled expansion efforts of its recycled water plant on Wednesday.
Along with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall touted the $37 million project.
Blumenfeld also announced the EPA is distributing more than $182 million, including the Carlsbad project, throughout California to invest in statewide improvements for water infrastructure.
Hall said he expects within five years to have 100 percent of the recycled water, which is a non-potable source, sold to existing and new users as a result of adding new pipes and meters. Construction on El Camino Real between Cannon Road and Chestnut Avenue will generate new customers, as recycled water will be pumped north, the mayor added.
“We understand the importance of safeguarding our drinking water supply by creating a drought-proof water supply,” Hall said. “Each gallon of recycled water that is used to irrigate parks, street medians and golf courses saves a gallon of drinking water.”
City Engineer Terry Smith said this is the first expansion of the plant since it opened in 2005. The capacity will rise from 4 million gallons per day to 7 million, giving Carlsbad a total of 11 million gallons per day of treated wastewater to distribute for uses such as agricultural and industrial. In another calculation, the total will increase from 4,100 acre-feet per year to 7,235.
The city also receives recycled water from facilities at Leucadia and Meadowlark, which combine for 4 million gallons per day.
Smith said construction is expected to finish near the end of the summer with the new capacity reaching the system by the end of the year. He said the facility must first pass numerous testing phases before water can be introduced.
With the additional water, it will cover 33 percent of the use of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District’s need, while Hall said the district will use all of its recycled water during the summer.
Currently, recycled water use in the district sits at 23 percent, a 16 percent increase over the last 10 years.
“We understand the importance of recycled water,” Hall said. “The city has invested approximately $52 million in recycled water projects to date.”
As for the funding, it will be secured through a State Revolving Fund with 1 percent interest along with other grants to be reimbursed to the city after construction. Blumenfeld said the city was approved for a $29.5 million loan.
Work on the plant and system also includes 18 miles of new pipes, a new storage tank and156 new recycled water meters.
This is the third phase of the recycled water program as the last upgrade in 2008 doubled the delivery capacity.
“We really think it’s an incredible example of how to think about future supplies of water,” Blumenfeld said. “With climate change and the weather patterns we are seeing, this is our insurance policy against that. It will meet one-third of the needs at a lower cost.”
As for the EPA, Blumenfeld said of the $182 million, $100 million is dedicated to non-potable sources and infrastructure, while the remaining $82 million is set for potable projects.
“Since 1988, we’ve invested $4.6 billion in projects in California,” Blumenfeld said. “We constantly need to think about how to upgrade infrastructure.”
However, he said $26 billion is needed to update and upgrade projects statewide. In the EPA’s press release, the agency stated $271 billion is needed for the country’s wastewater infrastructure.