News City sewage plant poses danger, needs refurbishing, says report by consultant

The Madera Waste Water Treatment facility — aka sewage plant — is again approaching disaster with the potential failure of another key component, the concrete “wetwell,” the massive tank that collects and holds city sewage just prior to processing, according to an emergency repair study, performed in September by Stantec Consulting Services.

Built in the 1950s, the sewer plant dodged a crisis in 2017, but continues on.

The study was presented to the City Council Oct. 10.

With its decaying infrastructure, the plant, situated on Avenue 13, processes from 7 million gallons to as much as 10 million gallons per day and is barely keeping up with increasing population demands.


Water Treatment Plants – Definition SSRIs – poisons in treated sewer water . . .

Water Treatment Plants – Definition SSRIs – poisons in treated sewer water . . .
SSRIs ease depression by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between brain cells. SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin available. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to primarily affect serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.

SSRIs also may be used to treat conditions other than depression, such as anxiety disorders.

Possible side effects of SSRIs may include, among others:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness, agitation or restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Sexual problems, such as reduced sexual desire or difficulty reaching orgasm or inability to maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision

Louisiana ‘islanders’ find a new home beyond the water

Standing in the long grass on the land where he was born, with the sea now lapping just meters away, Chief Albert Naquin remembers Isle de Jean Charles as a wonderful place to grow up.

“It’s like night and day – we were totally self-sufficient here. Now you have to go off the island to survive,” he said of his community in southeast Louisiana – one that is being dispersed by the encroaching waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the 1950s, the small strip of land – once 11 miles (18 km) by 5 miles (8 km) – has lost 98 percent of its mass, according to the U.S. Land Remote Sensing Program. It is linked to the mainland by a road flanked by water on either side.

The fear is that the “island”, as it is known, could wash away in the next big storm.





SEWER: Waste Water Treatment – a Stealth Silent Weapon . . . “EPA – Primer for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems”  Waste Water Treatment – a Stealth Silent Weapon 

Toilet to Tap – Waste Water Treatment . . . “EPA – Primer for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems”
INSIDER COMMENT:   The report (below) exposes the deliberate under-funding of required maintenance of the U.S. sewer treatment systems throughout the country.  As you will read many of our collection systems date from the end of World War II and the population boom of the post war era. The oldest portions of the collection system pipe network exceed 100 years of service. Significant parts of this infrastructure are severely stressed from overuse and the persistent under-funding of repair, rehabilitation, and replacement. In an increasing number of communities, existing systems are deteriorating, yet the demand for new infrastructure to accommodate growth presses unabated.
Further, of major concern is what the Climate Action Plans, the Resilient Plans, C40 Cities, Presidential Executive Orders, all branches of the military, the U.S. Bar Association, and all agencies, departments, offices, and officials, including “every” level of local, state and national jurisdictions have repeatedly told us in their documents.  Their documents tell us that due to the New Normal of Climate Change we will experience climate change effects to include:  Increase in extreme heat events, increased droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, changes in weather patterns, increased air pollution, higher food prices,, food scarcity, sea-level rise, storm surge, longer red tides (toxic algae blooms in the oceans), and much more.
We are told in the above plans that storm surge will cause impacts on waste water systems.
The bacteria normally present in water must have OXYGEN to do their part in breaking down the sewage.
The Climate Action Plans describe the effects of extreme heat events with examples of human health risks as follows:  Heat-related illness and death, worsening of chronic health conditions, and more. 
The “CIA 1960 Memorandum for Climate Control” (posted on or do a search) exposes one of many goals – reducing the Earth’s oxygen supply causing Earth’s suffocation. . . 
The Climate Action Plans tell us we will experience Extreme HEAT Events.  We are told in this EPA document (below) that HEAT reduces the capacity of water to retain OXYGEN . . 
EXCERPTS from the “EPA – Primer for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems”:


Heat reduces the capacity of water to retain oxygen. In some areas, water used for cooling is discharged to streams at elevated temperatures from power plants and industries. Even discharges from wastewater treatment plants and storm water retention ponds affected by summer heat can be released at temperatures above that of the receiving water, and elevate the stream temperature. Unchecked discharges of waste heat can seriously alter the ecology of a lake, a stream, or estuary.

In nature, bacteria and other small organisms in water consume organic matter in sewage, turning
it into new bacterial cells, carbon dioxide, and other by-products. The bacteria normally present in water must have “oxygen” to do their part in breaking down the sewage. In the 1920s, scientists observed that these natural processes could be contained and accelerated in systems to remove organic material from wastewater. With the addition of oxygen to wastewater, masses of microorganisms grew and rapidly metabolized organic pollutants. Any excess microbiological growth could be removed from the wastewater by physical processes.

Today, more than 16,000 publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants operate in the United States and its territories. The construction of wastewater treatment facilities blossomed in the 1920s and again after the passage of the CWA in 1972 with the availability of grant funding and new requirements calling for minimum levels of treatment. Adequate treatment of wastewater, along with the ability to provide a sufficient supply of clean water, has become a major concern for many communities. 

Sewer collection systems serve over half the people in the United States today. EPA estimates that there are approximately 500,000 miles of publicly- owned sanitary sewers with a similar expanse of privately-owned sewer systems. Sewers were designed and built to carry wastewater from domestic, industrial and commercial sources, but not to carry storm water. Nonetheless,  storm water enters sewers through cracks, particularly in older lines, and through roof and basement drains. Due to the much smaller volumes of waste water that pass through sewer lines compared to combined sewers, sewer systems use smaller pipes and lower the cost of collecting wastewater.

Asset Management

America’s public water- based infrastructure – its water supply, wastewater, and storm water facilities, and collection/distribution systems – is integral to our economic, environmental and cultural vitality.

Much of this country’s public wastewater system infrastructure has crossed the quarter-century mark, dating back to the CWA construction grant funding of the 1970s. Many of our collection systems date from the end of World War II and the population boom of the post war era. The oldest portions of the collection system pipe network exceed 100 years of service. Significant parts of this infrastructure are severely stressed from overuse and the persistent under-funding of repair, rehabilitation, and replacement. In an increasing number of communities, existing systems are deteriorating, yet the demand for new infrastructure to accommodate growth presses unabated. A revitalized approach to managing capital wastewater assets for cost effective performance is emerging in this country. This asset management approach focuses on the cost effective sustained performance of the wastewater collection and treatment system assets over their useful life. 

A vast array of chemicals are included in this category. Examples include detergents, house- hold cleaning aids, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, synthetic organic pesticides and her- bicides, industrial chemicals, and the wastes from their manufacture. Many of these sub- stances are toxic to fish and aquatic life and many are harmful to humans. Some are known to be highly poisonous at very low concentrations. Others can cause taste and odor prob- lems, and many are not effectively removed by conventional wastewater treatment. 

Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus are essential to living organisms and are the chief nutri- ents present in natural water. Large amounts of these nutrients are also present in sewage, certain industrial wastes, and drainage from fertilized land. Conventional secondary bio- logical treatment processes do not remove the phosphorus and nitrogen to any substantial extent — in fact, they may convert the organic forms of these substances into mineral form, making them more usable by plant life. When an excess of these nutrients overstimulates the growth of water plants, the result causes unsightly conditions, interferes with drinking water treatment processes, and causes unpleasant and disagreeable tastes and odors in drinking water. The release of large amounts of nutrients, primarily phosphorus but occasionally nitrogen, causes nutrient enrichment which results in excessive growth of algae. Uncontrolled algae growth blocks out sunlight and chokes aquatic plants and animals by depleting dissolved oxygen in the water at night. The release of nutrients in quantities that exceed the affected waterbody’s ability to assimilate them results in a condition called eutrophication or cultural enrichment. 

“the ability to provide a sufficient supply of clean water continues to be a major national concern” 


Insider Comment:  This is the reason (SWMP) Storm Water Mitigation Plans SU Sumps are required on properties of new construction.  Tanks are buried underground and all surface water from roofs, gutters, driveways, (surface run-off) are collected in the tanks where the grit and gravel settle out before being discharged to the storm system. . . 


Removing the grit and gravel that washes off streets or land during storms is very important, especially in cities with combined sewer systems. Large amounts of grit and sand entering a treatment plant can cause serious operating problems, such as excessive wear of pumps and other equipment, clogging of aeration devices, or taking up capacity in tanks that is needed for treatment. In some plants, another finer screen is placed after the grit chamber to remove any additional material that might damage equipment or interfere with later processes. The grit and screenings removed by these processes must be periodically collected and trucked to a landfill for disposal or are incinerated. 

In the waste water treatment process, the bacteria use oxygen from the air and consume most of the organic matter in the wastewater as food. As the wastewater passes down through the media, oxygen-demanding substances are consumed by the biomass and the water leaving the media is much cleaner. 

Land treatment is the controlled application of wastewater to the soil where physical, chemical, and biological processes treat the wastewater as it passes across or through the soil. The principal types of land treatment are slow rate, overland flow, and rapid infiltration. In the arid western states, pretreated municipal wastewater has been used for many years to irrigate crops. In more recent years, land treatment has spread to all sections of the country. Land treatment of many types of industrial wastewater is also common. 

Extensive research has been conducted at land treatment sites to determine treatment performance and study
the numerous treatment processes involved, as well as potential impacts
on the environment, e.g. groundwater, surface water, and any crop that may be grown. 

In the case of slow rate infiltration, the wastewater is applied to the land and moves through the soil
where the natural filtering action of the soil along with microbial activity and plant uptake removes most contaminants. Part of the water evaporates or is used by plants. 


Chlorine kills micro- organisms by destroying cellular material. any free (uncombined) chlorine remaining in the water, even at low concentrations, is highly toxic to beneficial aquatic life. Therefore, removal of even trace amounts of free chlorine by dechlorination is often needed to protect fish and aquatic life. Due to emergency response and potential safety concerns, 


Ozone is produced from oxygen exposed to a high voltage current. Ozone is very effective at destroying viruses and bacteria and decomposes back to oxygen rapidly without leaving harmful by products. Ozone is not very economical due to high energy costs. 


The National Pretreatment Program, a cooperative effort of Federal, state, POTWs and their industrial dischargers, requires industry to control the amount of pollutants discharged into municipal sewer systems. Pretreatment protects the wastewater treatment facilities and its workers from pollutants that may create hazards or interfere with the operation and performance of the POTW, including contamination of sewage sludge, and reduces the likelihood that untreated pollutants are introduced into the receiving waters.

Advanced treatment technologies can be extensions of conventional secondary biological treatment to further
stabilize oxygen-demanding substances in the wastewater, or to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. Advanced treatment may also involve physical-chemical separation techniques such as adsorption, flocculation/precipitation, membranes for advanced filtration, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis. In various combinations, these processes can achieve any degree of pollution control desired. As wastewater is purified to higher and higher degrees by such advanced treatment processes, the treated effluents can be reused for urban, landscape, and agricultural irrigation, industrial cooling and processing, recreational uses and water recharge, and even indirect augmentation of drinking water supplies.

Nitrogen Control

Nitrogen in one form or another is present in municipal wastewater and is usually not removed by secondary treatment. If discharged into lakes and streams or estuary waters, nitrogen in the form of ammonia can exert a direct demand on oxygenor stimulate the excessive growth of algae. Ammonia in wastewater effluent can be toxic to aquatic life in certain instances.

By providing additional biological treatment beyond the secondary stage, nitrifying bacteria present in wastewater treatment can biologically convert ammonia to the non-toxic nitrate through a process known as nitrification. The nitrification process is normally sufficient to remove the toxicity associated with ammonia in the effluent. Since nitrate is also a nutrient, excess amounts can contribute to the uncontrolled growth of algae. 

Like nitrogen, phosphorus is also a necessary nutrient for the growth of algae. Phosphorus reduction is often needed to prevent excessive algal growth before discharging the treated sewer water, effluent, into lakes, reservoirs and estuaries.

Advanced Methods of Wastewater Treatment

As our country and the demand for clean water have grown, it has become more important to produce cleaner wastewater effluents, yet some contaminants are more difficult to remove than others. The demand for cleaner discharges has been met through better and more complete methods of removing pollutants at wastewater treatment plants, in addition to pretreatment and pollution prevention which helps limit types of wastes discharged to the sanitary sewer system.

with nitrogen in the form of nitrate is placed into a tank devoid of oxygen, where carbon-containing chemicals, such as methanol, are added or a small stream of raw wastewater is mixed in with the nitrified effluent. In this oxygen free environment, bacteria use the oxygen attached to the nitrogen in the nitrate form releasing nitrogen gas. Because nitrogen comprises almost 80 percent of the air in the earth’s atmosphere, the release of nitrogen into the atmosphere does not cause any environmental harm.

Biosolids are processed wastewater solids (“sewage sludge”) that meet rigorous standards allowing safe reuse for beneficial purposes. Currently, more than halfof the biosolids produced by municipal wastewater treatment systems is applied to land as a soil conditioner or fertilizer and the remaining solids are incinerated or landfilled. 

Prior to utilization or disposal, biosolids are stabilized to control odors and reduce the number of disease-causing organisms. Sewage solids, or sludge, when separated from the wastewater, still contain around 98 percent water. They are usually thickened and may be dewatered to reduce the volume to be transported for final processing, disposal, or beneficial use. 

The “CIA 1960 Memorandum for Climate Control” (posted on or do a search) exposes one of many goals – Geoengineering is the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s weather and is intended to reduce the oxygen supply worldwide, causing Earth’s suffocation. . .  
We are told in this EPA document below that HEAT reduces the capacity of water to retain OXYGEN . . 

Read more “SEWER: Waste Water Treatment – a Stealth Silent Weapon . . . “EPA – Primer for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems””



The declining state of municipal wastewater and sewage treatment infrastructure in South Africa is one of the largest contributing factors to the numerous pollution problems experienced in most parts of the country and a major contributor to health problems in poor communities, as illustrated by recent outbreaks of cholera. The Mail and Guardian (2004) reported outbreaks of cholera in Delmas, Mpumalanga Province where there were 380 cases of diarrhoea, 30 suspected cases of typhoid fever and nine confirmed cases (7). Also, there were outbreaks of typhoid fever in many parts of South Africa, including KwaZulu-Natal, Limpompo and the Transkei (8) with some latest outbreaks occurring in Delmas, Mpumalanga. The outbreak originated in the town’s water supply, suspected to have been contaminated with human faeces. Another incident occurred in the Eastern Cape where 94 patients were treated with diarrhoea symptoms while 18 babies died (9). This incident was ascribed by the UKhahlamba District Municipality to microbiological water quality attributed to sewage spills from catchment based land activities (9). Spillage of untreated sewage also has adverse effects on the environment. For example, in 2008, there were media reports in KwaZulu Natal claiming that large amounts of sewage effluents were being discharged into the Durban harbour killing a large population of fish and destabilizing aquatic ecosystems(10). Groundwater pollution research conducted in the Western Cape indicated that there were increased levels of toxic minerals in groundwater samples due to seepage from the wastewater treatment plants. Many studies investigating these problems traced the pollution of water resources to design weaknesses, overloaded capacity, and faulty equipment and machinery of municipal wastewater and sewage treatment plants (11).


Recycled sewage water common component of Australian tap water – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Recycled sewage water common component of Australian tap water


By Ian Wright


The world is watching as Cape Town’s water crisis approaches “Day Zero“. Questions are being asked about which other cities could be at risk and what can they do to avoid running dry.

In Perth, Australia’s most water-stressed capital, it has been announced that the city is considering reusing all of its sewage as part of its future water supply.

Drinking recycled sewage is a very confronting topic.

But what many people don’t realise is that we already rely on recycled sewage in many Australian water supplies.

Even in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, it is an important part of the water supply. This is because many large towns discharge their treated sewage into the catchment rivers that supply the city.

Perth to recycle all sewage

But Perth is now looking to recycle all of its treated sewage. At the time of writing, the city’s water storages were at a low 35.3 per cent. Cape Town’s reserves, by comparison, are at a critical low of 23.5 per cent — but Perth was close to that point just a year ago when it was down to 24.8 per cent.

Perth has been progressively “drought-proofing” itself by diversifying the city water supply. River flow and storage in dams accounts for only 10 per cent of this supply. Desalination and groundwater extraction provide about 90 per cent of the city’s supply. Only about 10 per cent of Perth’s sewage is recycled, through advanced treatment and replenishment into its groundwater supplies.

Is sewage safe to drink?

Justifiably, many people have concerns about drinking recycled sewage. This reflects long-standing concern about hazards of contaminated water. An example is the devastating waterborne disease of cholera, which claims the lives of more than 100,000 people a year. Cholera is rare in many countries, but is endemic in waters across Africa and much of Southeast Asia.

As wastewater treatment technologies improve and urban populations grow, however, interest in using treated sewage in drinking water supplies has been increasing.

No Australian urban water supply currently uses “direct potable reuse” of treated sewage, but the concept is being seriously considered.

Am I already consuming sewage?

There is, however, indirect reuse when water is drawn from rivers into which recycled sewage is discharged upstream. For instance, the catchment of Sydney’s giant Warragamba Dam has a population of about 116,000 people. This includes the large settlements of Goulburn, Lithgow, Moss Vale, Mittagong and Bowral. These communities discharge their treated sewage into the catchment rivers.

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority regulates these discharges, which form a small part of the total annual catchment inflow to the dam. Such recycling of sewage is termed “indirect potable reuse”.

Residents in some parts of north-western Sydney also drink water that is partly supplied by another form of indirect reuse of treated sewage. The North Richmond Water Filtration Plant extracts and treats water drawn directly from the Hawkesbury-Nepean River. A major contributor to the river flow is treated sewage discharged from upstream treatment plants.

These include plants in the Blue Mountains (Winmalee), St Marys, Penrith, Wallacia, and West Camden. The largest individual discharge of treated sewage to the river in recent weeks is from St Marys Advanced Water Recycling Plant, one of the biggest in Australia. This plant uses advanced membrane technology to produce highly treated effluent before it is discharged into the river.

Available data are limited, but in the very low river flows in the recent dry summer I estimate that treated sewage comprised almost 32 per cent of the Hawkesbury-Nepean flow in the North Richmond area for the first week of January.

The water is highly treated at the Sydney Water-owned North Richmond plant to ensure it meets Australian drinking water guidelines.

As population grows, so does sewage

Every year the river receives more and more treated sewage as a result of population growth. This is certain to continue, as Greater Sydney is forecast to gain another 1.74 million residents in the next 18 years.

Much of this growth will be in Western Sydney, one of the most rapidly growing urban centres in Australia. This will result in more treated sewage, and urban runoff, contributing to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River flow.

Most of Sydney’s sewage water wasted

However, most of Sydney’s sewage is not recycled at all. Three massive coastal treatment plants (at North Head, Bondi and Malabar) serve the majority of Sydney’s population. These three plants discharge nearly 1,000 million litres (1,000mL) of primary treated sewage into the ocean every day. That is roughly an Olympic pool of sewage dumped in the ocean every four minutes!

Perhaps if Sydney was as chronically short of water as Perth there would be plans to recycle more of its sewage.

Instead, Sydney has adopted desalination as a “new” source of drinking water, rather than treating larger volumes of sewage for any form of potable reuse.

Sydney’s desalination plant sits idle about 10 kilometres south of the Malabar treatment plant. It has a capacity for supplying 250ML a day. Even though it isn’t supplying water now, it is very expensive.

In 2017, the privately owned plant, sitting on standby, charged Sydney Water $194 million.

Only when Sydney’s storages fall below the trigger of 60 per cent will the plant supply drinking water. With storages at 76.5 per cent, the plant will not operate for a while.

San Diego will recycle sewage into drinking water, mayor declares – The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego will recycle sewage into drinking water, mayor declare   5/10/2017

Within five years, San Diegans will be sipping and bathing in water recycled from sewage, city officials declared Wednesday.

A deal between local environmental groups and city officials to pursue a plan known as Pure Water San Diego, in lieu of upgrades to an aging wastewater treatment facility, seems to be coming to fruition after more than two decades of brainstorming, formal planning and small-scale testing of water purification technologies.

Both projects carry hefty price tags: at least $3 billion for the water-recycling system and roughly $2 billion for the facility overhaul. In either case, that means significant increases in water bills for residents and businesses. In fact, as the city has inched toward Pure Water, it has already boosted water prices by double digits over several years — and it has warned ratepayers to expect even bigger hikes if the plan moves into full construction and operations mode.

In recent years, a broad coalition has said Pure Water’s expense is worth the goal: creating a more stable, localized and conservation-minded water supply by reducing San Diego’s overwhelming reliance on imported purchases.

“Support for our Pure Water program has never been stronger than it is today,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the California Coastal Commission at a hearing on Wednesday in San Diego. “That wasn’t always the case 10 and 15 years ago. The fact that we have our environmental community, our business community, our political leadership across the spectrum that is so strongly supporting this is one of the hallmarks of this innovative program.”

Without hesitation Wednesday afternoon, the commissioners unanimously approved San Diego’s request to put off retrofitting the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant for at least five more years, so long as the city continues to pursue the sewage-to-water recycling project. The waiver frees up cash the city would have spent upgrading the facility, enabling it to instead save those dollars for building up to three new water-recycling facilities.

While the Point Loma facility is the only one of its kind left in the nation that doesn’t meet federal clean-water standards, independent scientific studies have shown that discharges from the site have little to no impact on the surrounding marine environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also must approve the latest waiver request, and it’s expected to do that soon.

“We have determined that the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment facility and its effluent discharges do not adversely affect the ocean environment and meets all the federal requirements for renewal of the permit,” said Tomás Torres, the EPA’s Water Division Director for the Pacific Southwest.

In the past year, San Diego officials and their outside advocates have tried in vain to get federal officials to grant a permanent waiver for the Point Loma plant, which would insulate the city from any environmental group that might sue in the future to force a retrofit of that facility.

The mayor’s office declined to comment on the status of this broader lobbying effort, which is mostly like aimed at ensuring that ratepayers wouldn’t have to shoulder the bill for both the Point Loma and Pure Water projects. Those ratepayers include cities that send sewage to the Point Loma facility and get drinking water from the city of San Diego’s network of reservoirs and pipes.

Time and time again, San Diego has been able to obtain five-year waivers for the Point Loma plant from the state Coastal Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since Congress passed the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act of 1994.

Local green groups haven’t always been happy with the situation, and they eventually sued the city over the repeated waiver requests. A settlement agreement spawned the current alliance that’s backing Pure Water.

When the city first floated the idea of a sewage-to-drinking-water system in the 1990s, it faced strong opposition because of reasons such as fear about contamination, the yuck factor — some critics called it “toilet to tap” — and accusations of discrimination stemming from a proposal that the recycled water be sent to communities south of Interstate 8. That proposal was promptly scrapped.

In recent years, after many community education efforts mounted by advocates of water recycling, polling has suggested that more than 70 percent of the county’s residents support the concept.

Since the city agreed to take another look at developing a water-recycling program more than a decade ago, groups such as San Diego Coastkeeper, the San Diego County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation have promised not to sue over continuing the Point Loma waivers. Some local green activists have even gone so far as to lobby environmental organizations outside of the region to honor the same strategy.

“We’ve been working really hard, the environmental groups locally … to get to the point where we’re at,” said Marco Gonzalez of Encinitas, an attorney with the Coast Law Group and Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation who has long been at the center of the negotiations. “And we’ve had to go to the greater environmental groups throughout the state so they understand what we’ve been doing.”

At the Coastal Commission’s meeting Wednesday, there was widespread praise for the deal.

“This is absolutely the right thing to do,” said San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, who also serves on the commission. “The track that has been set up with the city of San Diego and the environmental community and the business community gives me full confidence that we’re going to get to the point where project Pure Water will be addressing our water needs in the future.”

Representatives of the businesses community also expressed support.

“For our members, the businesses in San Diego, they really do understand — after several years of discussing it — the importance of water reliability and how important that is to the success of our region,” said Sean Karafin, executive director of policy and economic research for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “By investing in Pure Water, instead of an unnecessary conversion of the Point Loma plant, our community can achieve multiple benefits with maximum value.”

A slew of local environmental groups and Sierra Club California conveyed their enthusiasm for San Diego’s blueprint.

The only opposition came from a smaller advocacy organization called the Ocean Outfall Group in Southern California. It favors San Diego’s water-recycling program but also wants guarantees that, in the long run, all of the wastewater treated by the Point Loma facility would then be recycled by Pure Water. The city’s current approach would not recycle all effluent from the Point Loma plant.

“We would like to see a condition that when they have to come back five years from now … that they come back with a plan … for what’s going to happen to the rest of the effluent,” said Steve Ray, a member of the Ocean Outfall Group.

The Pure Water project is expected to break ground next year and ultimately generate a third of San Diego’s drinking water by 2035.

The first phase, scheduled to be completed by 2021, would produce 30 million gallons of drinking water per day at a facility to be built across the street from the North City Water Reclamation Plant near Miramar Road.

Up to two more facilities would follow — one at the former Naval Training Center grounds on Harbor Drive and another, if needed, at the South Bay Water Reclamation Plant on Dairy Mart Road. This second phase is expected to add 53 million gallons per day.

If the vision is carried out fully, Pure Water would divert about 100 million gallons of the current 140 million gallons of wastewater currently processed each day at the Point Loma plant. The facility serves about 2.5 million residents.

In October, the City Council agreed to speed up the Pure Water project to its present timeline. Before then, it had planned to generate about 15 million gallons a day by 2023 and 30 million gallons per day by 2027.

How Namibia turns sewage into drinking water

How Namibia turns sewage into drinking water  1/11/2017

On the outskirts of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, there’s a huge, churning vat of nasty brown liquid. It’s so stinky that my guide, the man who runs Windhoek’s water department, tells me I might want to stay in the car.

But this is what I came to see — raw sewage, on its way to being turned back into drinking water.

The Goreangab waste treatment plant is where most of the wastewater from Windhoek’s 300,000 residents ends up. But it’s not your run-of-the-mill sewage plant. It’s the first stop in the city’s pioneering water recycling system.

Cities around the world are wrestling with whether they should build facilities like this. But here, in the middle of a desert in a remote corner of southern Africa, they’ve been recycling wastewater for almost 50 years.

It’s cutting-edge technology, but it’s based on the humblest of creatures — bacteria.

“Everything is done biologically, by the organisms,” explains Justina Haihambo, a process engineer at the plant. The bacteria help digest the human waste and pull it out of the water, essentially mimicking what happens in nature but a whole lot faster.

Speed was important when the plant was built back in the 1960s, and it’s even more important today.

“The plant was originally designed to treat 27,000 cubic meters [of sewage] a day,” says Haihambo. “But now sometimes during peak hours, we have around 41,000 cubic meters a day. Way more than it was designed for.”

That’s because Windhoek is bigger now than it was back then, and it’s again on the verge of running out of water from natural sources. The local reservoir, or dam, is almost empty.

“Our next rainy season is expected in January [or] February next year,” says water department head Pierre van Rensburg. “But we know before that the dams will be out. And we also don’t know how much rain we will get. We went through the last rainy season without having any inflow on the dams.”

The drought that’s ravaging much of southern Africa is hitting Namibia hard, too. But van Rensburg grew up here, and he says water was always scarce.

“I can remember similar to what we have now, not being able to water your lawn,” he says. “Having to bathe in the same bath as others, collecting every drop of rainwater to try and use it to keep some plants alive.”

Before the mid-1900s, Windhoek got most of its water from nearby springs. But they dried up, and without much rain, it seemed the only way to keep up with demand was by taking what at the time was the radical step of reusing the city’s wastewater.

These days, such a plan can bring howls of protest by consumers repulsed by the idea of drinking recycled sewage. But the technology pioneered here has proven safe.

Not that there was much public input at the time. Back in the ’60s, Namibia was controlled by apartheid-era South Africa, and the government wasn’t much concerned with public opinion, especially with the majority-black population.

Today, though, no one I talked with had any complaints about drinking recycled water. And van Rensburg says locals are now proud to have pioneered the idea.

“If you talk about the cradle of water reclamation, potable reclamation, everybody comes and see this. This is where it all started in 1968.”

The plant’s been updated since then. Today, after the sewage we started with has already been cleaned to the point where most cities would just pump it back into a river or the sea, it’s sent off to be further purified with ozone and activated carbon.

Of course, it’s not like this pioneering plant helped make Windhoek a modern metropolis. Just outside Goreangab’s gates, there’s a huge slum of corrugated tin huts.

It’s strange to see such poverty right next to this cutting-edge facility. But van Rensburg says it actually makes a lot of sense. Namibia has struggled with basic needs, and necessity is the mother of invention.

“If you look at the world, the pressing need is always in developing countries,” van Rensburg says. “It’s a fast-changing environment. So, you always have to be innovative to try and stay a step ahead.”

Van Rensburg thinks developing countries like Namibia can lead the world in innovation — if they can gain access to funding and skilled labor.

“The fact that an idea can be generated in a developing country, that can actually inspire a similar trend in a developed country, is definitely, in my opinion, something that can happen,” he says.

Goreangab gets a lot of visitors from developed countries facing water shortages. Experts have come from Australia, Singapore and the U.S. to see where water reclamation started. All those countries now have their own sewage recycling plants.

This place doesn’t supply every drop of Windhoek’s water. The city still taps groundwater and harvests some of what does fall from the sky. But the future here may be even drier than the past, so water recycling is more important than ever.

And the people who work at and run this plant put their water where their mouth is. There’s a drinking fountain on the way out of the plant that burbles with clear, cool water.

“That is the product from this plant,” says van Rensburg. “It’s 100 percent purified sewage water.”

I take a sip, then another. It tastes delicious. And I lived to tell the tale.