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Strategic Community Consulting gave the City Council positive marks for approving and funding a pilot project to test highly treated wastewater from the city of San Diego’s North City water reclamation facility to augment local reservoirs. In fact, for the first time under the new Strong Mayor form of government, the San Diego City Council voted in December 2007 to override Mayor Jerry Sanders’ veto of the pilot program aimed at enhancing local water supplies. The four environmental groups that commissioned the SCC report agree this was perhaps the single most important vote the City Council took over the past year – a visionary decision that can reduce or ultimately eliminate ocean discharge of sewage while simultaneously enhancing local water supplies.

In addition to the approved pilot project that will test 1 million gallons of treated wastewater to ensure it is safe for consumption, the council’s action also authorized a comprehensive public outreach campaign geared towards educating San Diegans about water recycling and is the first step in eventually using up to 16 million gallons per day of advanced treated water from the North City reclamation facility to augment the San Vicente Reservoir. Often derided by opponents who have dubbed the project ‘toilet to tap’, local environmental groups have supported indirect potable reuse, which meets stringent federal and state drinking water standards, is more cost effective than many other water supply strategies, and can provide the region with drought-proof supply of water, which is in short supply in a region that imports nearly 90 percent of this life sustaining resource.

— COLIN PARENT

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