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Wastewater treatment facility will provide 30% of the drinkable water in East County

Posted at 6:29 PM, Mar 18, 2024

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) — In the near future, recycled wastewater could account for 30% of the drinkable water in the East county. The water would go through several purification steps at a new facility being built in Santee.

More than 10 years and $950 million after the project began, the East County Advanced Water purification is just a few years away from opening.

The facility will provide water to East County in a sustainable way.

Before, much of the water used in East County homes was released back into the ocean. By the end of 2026, 11.5 million gallons of purified water will be treated and released daily.

"There are drought impacts on the Colorado River in northern California where we get our imported water from. So it's a needed resource right here in our community," Kyle Swanson, the CEO of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District says.

California passed new laws in 2023, laying out regulations for converting wastewater into tap water.
Similar facilities have rolled out in several states, and southern California already has one in Orange County. But the East County project is a little bit different.

"The East County Advanced Water Purification Project will take that purified water and put it into a storage reservoir," Swanson adds.
Construction on the project is only halfway done, with an estimated completion date at the end of 2026. "It is incredibly important. It offloads the need to import water," Swanson adds.

Funding for the water facility has come from multiple avenues. That includes $760 million in loans and $169 million in grants. The facility is owned by Padre Dam, the city of El Cajon, San Diego County, and Helix Water District.