MWD and LA Sanitation Districts Partner for New Water Recycling Demo Plant for New Water Source

By on October 21, 2019

Although projected to take 11 years to fully complete – and a host of required approvals in the process – the Regional Recycled Water Advanced Purification Center, a new water recycling demonstration plant, celebrated the start of operations last week. It’s a major step forward in the potential construction of one of the largest water recycling plants in the nation as envisioned by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (SDLAC).

“Today marks a key step in Metropolitan’s endeavor to directly develop a drought-proof local water supply for millions of Southern Californians,” said Metropolitan Board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray. “Over the last two decades, Metropolitan has steadily diversified the region’s water supply portfolio and prepared for a changing climate by investing in conservation and local supply projects. Metropolitan is now scaling that commitment up to a higher level.”

Gray was joined in celebrating the start of the plant’s operations by numerous federal, state and local water leaders including Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, State Water Resources Control Board Chairman Joaquin Esquivel and Los Angeles Regional Board Chairwoman Irma Muñoz. The 500,000-gallon-per-day demonstration facility which will take cleaned wastewater from the Sanitation Districts’ Joint Water Pollution Control Plant and purify it. Although the water purification process being tested at the facility is based on proven technologies, it uses a new combination of treatment processes. Combining membrane bioreactors, followed by reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light and advanced oxidation could significantly increase efficiencies in treatment.

“There are certainly proven technologies to safely recycle water,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, MWD general manager. “But as we embark upon this major future investment, we need to explore how the process can be improved. Others around the globe are watching as well.”

Construction on the $17 million demonstration plant began in late 2017. MWD will put this treatment process through rigorous testing in the next 15 months to ensure the process effectively removes impurities and produces water that can meet the highest quality standards. The testing and other analyses will help the agencies determine whether to grow the facility to a full-scale plant. If successful and regulatory approvals are secured to grow the plant it could potentially produce up to 150 million gallons of purified water daily – enough to serve more than 500,000 homes and industrial facilities.

“We have long been leaders and advocates in recycling water,” said Sanitation Districts General Manager Robert Ferrante. “Most of the water from our other ten plants is currently reused. This project would use the region’s largest untapped source of cleaned wastewater. We are excited to have Metropolitan as a partner in finding a solution that will benefit the entire Southern California region.”

“The Regional Recycled Water Program is an ambitious project that requires the partnership of two large regional agencies with the right knowledge and expertise. We are thankful to be partnering with the Sanitation Districts,” Kightlinger added.

As proposed and planned, the full-scale program, would provide purified water delivered through 60 miles of new pipelines to four groundwater basins in Los Angeles and Orange counties for groundwater recharge and storage, industrial facilities, and, potentially, two of MWD’s existing water treatment plants for direct potable reuse.