State funding supports one of the largest water recycling programs in the world, creates new local climate-resilient supply.
CARSON – State officials presented an $80 million check today 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 Assemblymember Lisa Calderon (D-Whittier), E. Joaquin Esquivel, State Water Resources Control Board chair, and Carson Mayor Pro Tem Jawane Hilton 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.
“The climate crisis has strained our region’s water supply,” said Assemblymember Calderon. “It’s imperative we continue investing in projects focused on addressing our water needs. I am pleased to support the work of the Metropolitan Water District and the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts in advancing the Pure Water Southern California project. This effort will provide a more resilient, sustainable water infrastructure system for our local communities.”
Scientists and engineers are testing an innovative purification process at the demonstration plant to ensure the treated water meets the highest water purification standards. 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 SWRCB 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.”
Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said the Pure Water program is a foundational component of the district’s development of its Climate Adaptation Master Plan for Water, which makes climate adaptation central to the district’s long-term planning and financial investments, taking into consideration infrastructure and water supply projects.
“The way we managed our water resources is no longer sufficient as we encounter longer, hotter periods of drought and increasingly limited water resources,” Hagekhalil said. “Today’s celebration showcases what happens when we work together. Through collaboration and innovation, we are taking the necessary steps to safeguard our future.”
Robert Ferrante, the Sanitation Districts’ general manager and chief engineer, also emphasized the importance of partnerships.
“We look forward to producing a new sustainable supply of water for Southern California to mitigate future droughts,” Ferrante said. “We can only move forward on a project of this size with a partner like Metropolitan that has the right experience and expertise to make the effort successful.”
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.