Southern California to transform wastewater into drinking water with $99 million federal boost

(UI) — The Metropolitan Water District's initiative to create a new water supply for Southern California by turning cleaned wastewater into high-quality drinking water received a significant funding boost on May 28.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced $99.2 million in funding for the Pure Water Southern California project at an event in Carson.

Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, along with U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, and other officials, emphasized the importance of this investment. “Investment in water recycling is key to making our water supplies more resilient,” Touton said.

The Pure Water project, a collaboration between Metropolitan and the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, will use an advanced purification process to turn cleaned wastewater into high-quality drinking water. The project aims to produce 150 million gallons of water per day, enough for 500,000 homes. If approved, construction could begin in 2026, with the first water delivery expected by 2032.

Metropolitan Board Chair Adán Ortega, Jr. highlighted the climate-resilient nature of purified recycled water, stating, “Having a dependable supply of water, unaffected by weather, will provide critical reliability to our communities.”

The funding is part of the Large-Scale Water Recycling Program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $450 million over five years to major water recycling projects in the West. Additional grants were awarded to projects by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the city of Ventura, and the Washington County Water Conservation District in Utah.

“Ensuring Southern California has a reliable water supply benefits the entire state and country,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil. “Our businesses and industries are an economic engine for the nation.”

The new federal funds will support design work and infrastructure improvements necessary for the project. Robert Ferrante, general manager of the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, expressed gratitude for the support and emphasized the project's potential to meet the region's water demands using untapped wastewater sources.

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