With 80 percent of U.S. states anticipating some freshwater shortages in the next decade, diversifying the country’s water portfolio to meet the nation’s water needs is a top priority for the Trump Administration. With that in mind, Senior Administration Officials, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross, visited innovative water projects in Southern California that demonstrate the benefits of water reuse and desalination.
Water reuse, or water recycling, can be used for a wide variety of applications, including drinking, agriculture, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes and environmental restoration. But for water reuse to make a real difference in maintaining the nation’s water needs, there must be collaboration between federal, state and water sector stakeholders to encourage the use and growth of innovative water reuse technologies.
The Administration is committed to promoting this important effort, including through actions organized under the draft National Water Reuse Action Plan, which was announced at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium. The draft plan was announced during a panel discussion with federal partners including—the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Department of Army for Civil Works, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Detailing ways to use water reuse technology to address the nation’s water resource challenges, this draft plan is much more than an EPA plan, but instead a water-sector plan that was developed in collaboration with federal, state, local and industry partners from around the country. EPA is now requesting public comment on the plan and engaging with all stakeholders to identify the highest priority and most urgent actions to be included.
Administration officials visited the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility and Padre Dam Municipal Water District, showcasing the vital role of collaboration between federal and non-federal stakeholders as well as the importance of innovative projects in supplying safe and sufficient water to meet future demand.
To highlight innovative water desalination projects that are already underway, officials toured the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which is the largest seawater desalination plant in the nation. The Carlsbad plant delivers over 50 million gallons of secure and high-quality drinking water to more than 400,000 Southern California residents every day. The plant uses reverse osmosis to provide the only water supply in San Diego County that is not dependent on snowpack in the Sierras or local rainfall. This plant is a great example of what is possible when the private and public sector work together to utilize the latest technologies in water treatment.
After Carlsbad, the group continued with a demonstration of advanced water reuse at Pure Water San Diego and the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Pure Water San Diego is a phased, multi-year program that will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. Phase one of this multi-year program will provide 30 million gallons of clean, advanced-treated recycled water to San Diego-area residents starting in 2023.
At the Padre Dam Municipal Water District the group discussed of one of the biggest challenges in the water sector— the aging workforce. Nationally, it is estimated that 37 percent of water utility workers will retire in the next 10 years. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross highlighted work EPA is doing with federal partners to recruit the next generation of water professionals.
As EPA continues to work with federal, state, tribal and water sector stakeholders to address water challenges, federal collaboration will be invaluable for developing innovative technologies and partnerships that will promote water reuse and a sufficient and safe supply of water for our future.