The Coast News Group
Carlsbad senior engineer Terry Smith, left, along with Carlsbad City Council members from left: Keith Blackburn, Lorraine Wood, Mayor Matt Hall, Mark Packard and Michael Schumacher and Carlsbad Municipal Water District General Manager Wendy Chambers cut the ribbon for the expansion of the recycled water plant. Photo by Steve Puterski
Carlsbad Carlsbad Featured Community

Carlsbad completes recycled water plant expansion project

CARLSBAD — It is the path toward the future.

Last week, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, along with the City Council and numerous partners, unveiled its completed recycled water plant expansion as part of its purple pipe explosion.

All told, the project cost $37 million and increases the plant’s output from 4 million gallons per day to 7 million. It gives the city a total of 11 million gallons per day of treated wastewater, which is used for agriculture, industry and irrigating parks, golf courses and street medians.

“I think what is very significant about today is we had a vision back in the early ’90s,” Mayor Matt Hall said. “We created this vision 25 years ago and it’s come true today. We knew and understood that many years ago … if we were going to be successful, we were going to need a reliable source of water.”

The third phase pushes the city’s recycled portion to one-third of the city’s portfolio, with the other two sources coming from imported water and the desalination plant.

Former Councilwoman Ann Kulchin who, along with the late Mayor Bud Lewis, set their sights on water resources more than 20 years ago.

She said the drive to develop and building a recycled water facility was born in 2002. Tuesday’s third phase, meanwhile, highlights the latest in technology to generate water for the city’s needs.

“We really had tenure and got to understand our responsibilities,” Kulchin said of her time on the council and early steps taken toward recycled water. “We had a good staff … we always did our homework and listened to them. Look how smart they were to get the money for this. Water is so important … and you don’t realize it until there is a shortage.”

As for the cost, $22 million came from a loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $7.35 million from a Proposition 1 grant, $4.4 million from Prop 84 and the remainder from the city’s recycled water fund.

While Carlsbad is generating 7 million gallons for its own use, the plant also treats water from facilities at Leucadia and Meadowlark, which combine for 4 million gallons per day.

Hall, meanwhile, dished out a surprising statistic — the city uses less potable water now than it did in 1990.

After taking over as mayor, Hall has continued Lewis’ and Kulchin’s drive for developing reliable water sources.

In January, the city announced this expansion effort and 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, which was recently completed, will generate new customers, as recycled water will be pumped north.

“This has been a long project in the making,” Councilman Michael Schumacher said. “This is no longer a ‘pipe dream,’ as it was once called.”

The Encina Water Authority, meanwhile, operates the facility and provides public tours.