Monday, March 21, 2008 | I was embarrassed and appalled when I heard city of San Diego water department Director Jim Barrett on the “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” giving unsupportable excuses (“unproven,” “untested”) for not pursuing local use of re-purified water to augment our drinking water supply. It was even more appalling to read these excuses again, quoted in the article “City’s Recycled Sewage Explainer”.

Mayor Jerry Sanders and his appointee director need to stop hiding behind excuses that are demonstrably untrue.

Fairfax County, Virginia has been “augmenting” Occoquan Reservoir for 30 years with re-purified water. Las Vegas discharges 100 percent of the city’s reclaimed sewage water into Lake Meade. Orange County is discharging their re-purified sewage water into both surface lakes and underground aquifers. The Orange Co. system was largely paid for with federal grant money.

Locally, Santee Lakes, former gravel pits, have been filled with purified sewage water since the late 1950s. Fishing in the Santee Lakes was approved in 1962, with consumption of fish caught in the Lakes approved in 1964, and in 1965, the first public use for swimming was approved.

This is a proven technology that has only gotten better and safer in the decades since the earliest projects were put in place. With increasingly dire warnings about the probable large reductions in water available from the Colorado River and the State Water Project, and prices for imported water continuing to increase [added to local water price increases already approved], being able to capture and re-use water already in our county will become more and more cost effective. The city of San Diego Water Department website has a lot of information that could help to overcome some people’s fears, if those who dislike the idea would only learn something objective about how safe it is to consume properly re-purified “used” water (most of which is not from your toilet).

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