On Tuesday, the City of Carlsbad celebrated the expansion of its water recycling plant, a project that will increase water reliability by enabling companies, schools, HOAs and other large water users to conserve limited drinking water supplies by utilizing recycled water for irrigation and other non-drinking uses.
At a Glance
Recycled water is wastewater that has been treated to a level suitable for irrigation, industrial processing and other non-drinking uses.
The city has more than doubled its recycled water consumption in the last 10 years and has more recycled water meters than any other water district in San Diego County.
The Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility expansion also includes adding 18 miles of new pipe to the existing 79-mile recycled water distribution system and building a new 1.5 million gallon reservoir.
The water district produces recycled water by boosting the treatment of wastewater with additional filtration and disinfection to make it usable for irrigation and other non-drinking purposes. Recycled water is about 23 percent cheaper than potable water, because the water district controls the price and production. And customers who purchase recycled water for irrigation are not subject to drought restrictions.
Carlsbad has invested approximately $55 million in recycled water projects to date, and infrastructure includes the water recycling plant, pipelines, four pumping stations and storage capacity totaling 35.5 million gallons. Because of this investment the city has more than doubled its recycled water consumption in the last 10 years. Carlsbad has more recycled water meters than any other water district in San Diego County.
The latest additions to the recycled water distribution system are the Palomar Airport Business Park along Camino Vida Roble; in Calavera Hills along Carlsbad Village Drive; El Camino Real south of Alga Road; and along Palmer Way and Impala Drive, near Faraday Avenue. The city also recently took advantage of the construction along El Camino Real to install more “purple pipes.”
Recycled water needs to be distributed through pipes separate from the drinking water system. The pipes, pumps and valves are purple to make sure they are easy to distinguish.
The San Diego region imports about 90 percent of its drinking water from Northern California and the Colorado River. These sources are facing severe restrictions due to a prolonged dry period and legal restrictions on pumping water through the environmentally fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The 11-year-old Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility is located next to the Encina Water Pollution Control Facility on Avenida Encinas and is maintained and operated by the Encina Wastewater Authority. It is one of three sources of recycled water distributed by the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. The other two supply sources are the Meadowlark Treatment Plant, owned and operated by the Vallecitos Water District, and the Gafner Treatment Plant, owned and operated by the Leucadia Wastewater District.
In addition to Carlsbad-specific projects, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District is one of 24 water agencies that belong the San Diego County Water Authority, the region’s water wholesaler. In all the region has invested $3.1 billion to ensure water reliability, including new reservoirs, pipelines, pump stations and a regional water treatment facility.
The Carlsbad Desalination Project, owned by Poseidon Water, came online earlier this year and will provide between 7 to 10 percent of the region’s water supply via the San Diego County Water Authority’s regional water distribution system.
The Carlsbad Municipal Water District, a subsidiary of the City of Carlsbad, serves about 85 percent of the city. South and southeastern portions of the city are served by the Vallecitos Water District and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District.
The expansion project was funded by several sources, including grants, loans and water district enterprise funds that have been allocated for expansion of the district’s recycled water network.