What if I were to tell you to get ready to handle a job that includes 60 miles of new water pipe in three counties in southern California?

It could happen as a part of a decade long dream to provide millions of gallons of new water supply to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). This “new” water comes to our region without depending on the State of California to build any new dams or part with any of the billions of acre-feet that currently wash into the Pacific under the Golden Gate bridge.

The dreamers include MWD and the L.A. County Sanitation Districts, who celebrated the opening of the $17 million Regional Recycled Water Advanced Purification Center on October 10th in Carson. The 500,000-gallon-per day demonstration facility is testing an innovative water purification process and could lead to one of the world’s largest water recycling plants.

Oh, did we forget to mention this is a plant that takes wastewater from our toilets, bathtubs, washing machines and garbage disposals, already treated so it could join the not-so- pure (have you seen what they dump into the river in Sacramento) northern California water in the Pacific?

Against a backdrop of the newly operating demonstration facility, a galaxy of federal, state and local officials gathered last month to speechify and tour the plant, learning more about the innovative purification process being tested at the facility to increase efficiencies in water recycling, and share how this major milestone could lead to a large new, drought-proof water supply for Southern California.

The Sanitation Districts’ existing plant in Carson currently treats and cleans wastewater that the new center purifies using a process that bundles a new application of membrane bioreactors combined with reverse osmosis and an ultraviolet / advanced oxidation process to provide potable water at the end of the pipe. The rationale behind the demonstration project provides a working model to develop design criteria for a full scale facility, clarify costs for advanced treatment, and ultimately obtain regulatory permits for a full-scale program.

The full-scale advanced purification facility could produce up to 150 million gallons of purified water daily, enough to serve more than 500,000 homes. Here’s where the 60 miles of new pipelines come in, supplying to the region’s groundwater basins, industrial facilities and some of Metropolitan’s water treatment plants.

No, it’s not the silver bullet to end all of our water woes, but it sure sounds like a big step in that direction…not to mention a ton of work for our contractors.
By Brendan Slagle, ECA President, Email: [email protected]