Santee will soon become the first city in San Diego County to use partially treated or reclaimed water for street sweeping rather than drinking water.The switch to reclaimed water will save a small amount of money. But more importantly, it will reduce the use of potable water by 60,000 gallons each year and add to our region’s water conservation efforts.
“Although the cost savings is minimal, switching to reclaimed water is a great idea because it conserves a valuable resource: drinking water,” said Kathy Valverde, who oversees the city’s Sustainability Program. “It may seem like an obvious alternative, but we’ll actually be the first city in the region to accomplish this.”
The change was a collaborative effort between the City of Santee, CleanTECH San Diego and Padre Dam Municipal Water District. It was also a change that took three years to accomplish because it required complicated approvals from the California Department of Public Health and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, a state agency that enforces the federal Clean Water Act.
Padre Dam is installing special filling stations at five locations throughout the city where street sweepers can fill up with reclaimed water. The district will also provide required training for street sweeping crews on procedures to prevent reclaimed water from cross connecting with the potable water system.While the city will be saving potable water as a result of the switch, the state approvals will also allow Padre Dam to save over 1 million gallons of drinking water annually, which are used to clean and maintain the sewer system.
Canon Pacific, which currently contracts with Santee for street sweeping, has been cooperating with the switch to reclaimed water and has agreed to retrofit its equipment. The city will also require the use of reclaimed water for street sweeping in future contracts.“As a water conservation measure, I hope the switch will be one that other cities and water districts can model,” said Valverde.