Editor's Note: Construction’s begun on an ultrafiltration pilot project designed by Brown and Caldwell and built by Integrated Water Services. If all goes as planned, a groundwater-recharge program will be operating by March 2015.

Santee, CA – With California’s ongoing drought and the cost of imported water continuing to rise, Padre Dam Municipal Water District broke ground yesterday on its new Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. The project, funded through a three million dollar Proposition 50 grant from the Department of Water Resources, will use advanced water purification technologies to potentially diversify East County’s water supply by providing a new source of water that is safe, reliable, locally controlled and drought-proof. The project is scheduled to begin operation in March 2015.

“Living in sunny San Diego County, our weather is beautiful, but with limited rainfall and local water sources, we continue to be susceptible to drought conditions and the continually rising cost to imported water,” said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam. “That’s why it is important for Padre Dam to explore opportunities to diversify our water supply and reduce our reliance on imported water.”

Padre Dam’s Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project will take wastewater through four advanced water treatment steps - free chlorine disinfection, membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet/advanced oxidation. The demonstration project will operate for at least 12 months. During this time, the demonstration project will produce approximately 100,000 gallons of purified water per day. The water will be tested daily to ensure it meets the public health objectives for California Health Department approval.

If the demonstration project is deemed successful and the project moves forward, the water would be injected into the Santee groundwater basin where it would be naturally filtered, then withdrawn and treated again prior to distribution as drinking water. The project would have the potential to provide up to three million gallons of water per day.

Additionally, Padre Dam is working with Helix Water District, the City of El Cajon and the County of San Diego to study the feasibility of developing an expanded East County Advanced Water Purification Program. The study will focus on the possibility of expanding Padre Dam’s proposed Advanced Water Purification Project to accommodate and treat wastewater from the other agencies’ service areas in order to provide a recycled water supply for local and regional groundwater recharge, reservoir augmentation and other potable reuse opportunities. This expanded program could produce up to an additional10 million gallons of water per day.

“I am confident and hopeful that the demonstration project will be successful,” added Carlisle. “If it is, this will open up a whole new source of water for many East County residents.”

For more information on the Advanced Water Purification Project and all of Padre Dams’ projects and programs, please see www.padredam.org or www.padresdam.org/AWP.