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Preliminary Pure Water Program work begins

Pure Water Program
This rendering shows the route of the North City Pure water pipeline. (courtesy of Pure Water Program)

Preliminary Pure Water Program work begins 

By Ashley Shah

The Pure Water Program, a $1.5 billion project, is transforming the city of San Diego’s use of water. 

The project has two phases. The first one involves the Scripps Ranch area and is projected to finish in 2025. The second phase involves the central area of San Diego and is expected to be finished in 2035.

“When both parts are completed, it should generate over half of the city’s water supply,” said John Stufflebean, assistant director of Pure Water and Technical Services for the Public Utilities Department of the City of San Diego. “As of now, over 85 percent of the water we use is imported from the Colorado River. This will lessen our reliance on the Colorado River as it has proven to be an unreliable source for the future.” 

For decades, most of the water after leaving San Diego homes has gone to the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant. The treatment plant uses a primary treatment; however, due to national guidelines, it should be using a secondary treatment. 

“Instead of upgrading to secondary treatment, we decided to do the Pure Water program. It will save us more money and water,” Stufflebean said.

The Pure Water Program aims to take the water leaving homes to the already existing Water Reclamation Plant off I-805, to the Pure Water treatment plant just across the street. Then, from the Pure Water plant, almost 8 miles of pipeline will be constructed leading to the Miramar Reservoir. 

“After the water is pumped into the Miramar Reservoir, we will treat it and be able to pump the water all throughout the north areas of San Diego,” Stufflebean said. 

The approximately 8 miles of pipeline is the part of the program that directly interacts with Scripps Ranch. About a month and half ago, crews started potholing from Hoyt Park to Scripps Ranch Boulevard to Carroll Canyon Road. Potholing is a procedure to locate and survey underground utilities for upcoming construction.  

“We are potholing to make sure that we will be able to build this pipeline, and there is nothing in the way that shouldn’t be. This work is happening at night to minimize disruption to these streets in the daytime,” senior construction engineer Steve Lindsay said. 

Actual construction of the pipeline is projected to start in January or February 2022. 

“Building the pipeline will take about four to six months. We will try to do 100 feet a night,” Lindsay said. 

At the moment, there is no work being done at Lake Miramar. However, the lake is still closed for boating and fishing, but open for all other activities. 

“We haven’t gotten the plans for Miramar. It should be at least another year until we work there,” Lindsay said. 

Prior to the beginning of this project, the city worked closely with working groups in areas that will be affected by this project. 

“We are still working with working groups to try and minimize disruptions to residents in these areas. We are trying to make sure that this project does not cause that many problems for residents,” Stufflebean said. 

Residents can sign up for Phase 1 construction updates through the website purewatersd.org