The Pure Water facility would curb the dumping of treated sewage into coastal waters off Point Loma. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

San Diego ratepayers are going to spend more on water because of a massive new treatment system, but how much is an open question.

Shortly after the City Council approved $1.4 billion for the first phase of the $3 billion project in November, reporter Ry Rivard asked for an estimate of how much water bills will rise.

It’s common for public water agencies to offer some sense of the financial burden the public will bear before they embark on a major project. In this case, however, officials are declining to provide one, concluding that “there is no simple calculation” they could perform.

Yet the project itself is not simple, either. Pure Water, as the project is known, is one of the most complex and ambitious public works projects in California. For it to work, San Diego must flawlessly remove bacteria and other pollution from raw sewage.

A failure locally could not only endanger public health but also set back other similar projects for a generation. If it’s successful, Pure Water will not only provide a drought-proof source of water, but help with another long-standing city problem.

The project is intended to help the city avoid spending $2 billion on upgrades at another treatment plant in Point Loma, where treated sewage is being dumped into the ocean.

The Story Behind San Diego Street Repairs, Pt. 2

Recently Lisa Halverstadt explained why some streets get paved before others, and it piqued plenty of interest. We heard from several readers who wanted more information on the particular roads that they drive or ride every day. Often, those repairs are delayed because of other infrastructure projects in the area.

In a new post, Halverstadt offers a few tips for staying in the know.

For instance, the city’s capital improvement site should note whether there’s a utility or sewer project that could be postponing work in your area. The city’s Streets SD site also allows you to look up past and scheduled work.

Not seeing a scheduled project? You can also use the city’s Get It Done app to request repairs.

Politics Roundup

  • Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the new chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, ran on a promise to bring more transparency and inclusiveness to the local political structure. He joined the podcast to talk about his transformation from Republican to Democrat and more.
  • Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher have always featured their families in their public lives. They recently introduced San Diego to a new family member, 19-year-old Max, and our Politics Report team has more on that, plus a roundup of the candidates who are running for various 2020 races so far.
  • On a trip to San Diego, Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed the funding in his proposed budget for a temporary migrant shelter. He also said his administration is reviewing the role of the National Guard at the border, suggesting there may be deployment changes in the future from the state.
  • Attorney Cory Briggs, whose regularly accuses municipalities and developers of violating environmental law, tells U-T columnist Michael Smolens that he’s trying to tap into anti-density sentiment. He insisted that the mayor’s proposals to put taller developments near major transit stations would dramatically alter neighborhoods, possibly ruin them.

In Other News

  • The Pentagon is sending 3,750 more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to put up another 150 miles of concertina wire and provide other support for Customs and Border Protection. (Associated Press)
  • San Diego city employees make an average of 30 percent less than other local cities for doing the same jobs. Republicans on the City Council seem open to big pay increases to help fill thousands of vacant positions but would also want incentives for high performers and punitive measures for low performers. (Union-Tribune)
  • Two immigrant rights attorneys and two journalists said they were detained by Mexican authorities while trying to enter the country and turned back after their passports were flagged by an unknown government. (Los Angeles Times)
  • San Diego Unified School District has been providing students of Hickman Elementary in Mira Mesa with bottled water after discovering elevated levels of lead in the drinking fountains. (NBC 7)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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