California presents $80M to advance Pure Water Southern California

July 26, 2023
State officials presented an $80 million check to support the development of the large-scale regional water recycling program, Pure Water Southern California.

On July 19 California officials presented an $80 million check to help advance Pure Water Southern California, a large-scale, regional water recycling program that will create a new source of water to benefit 19 million people amid a changing climate and weather whiplash.

State officials joined representatives from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts during the event at the Pure Water demonstration facility. Metropolitan and the Sanitation Districts are partnering on work to accelerate the project’s design and construction, with the potential to begin construction as early as 2025 and water deliveries to start in 2032.

Once built, the full-scale project will take cleaned wastewater that is currently sent to the ocean and purify it to produce high-quality drinking water. The purified water will then be delivered through up to 60 miles of new pipelines to the region’s groundwater basins, industrial facilities and two of Metropolitan’s water treatment plants.

Pure Water could also be among the first projects in California to utilize new regulations proposed just last week by the State Water Resources Control Board, which would allow Metropolitan to distribute the purified wastewater to existing water treatment plants where it could mix with its other water sources before it is delivered to customers.

“Pure Water Southern California is a critical 21st century investment in the region’s water future. It will expand the water supply with a climate resilient source and help the entire state respond to hotter, drier conditions,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel. “This project won't just benefit supply, as this wastewater is recycled, it is also diverted away from the ocean, reducing impacts on marine ecosystems and water quality. This is why water recycling is a pillar of Governor Newsom’s Water Supply Strategy and the State Water Board invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year in low-interest loans and grants to bring these projects forward.”

Metropolitan officials expressed appreciation for the state funding as the agency works to address the many challenges to its water supplies.

“I am deeply grateful to the state for their support of Pure Water as we embark on an aggressive agenda to prepare for the challenging decades ahead,” said Metropolitan board Director Dennis Erdman, who serves as chair of the board’s Engineering, Operations and Technology Committee. “This project is critical to the success and well-being of Southern California and the many communities we serve. This funding will help us move forward as expeditiously as possible.”

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.