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Survey Shows Increased San Diego Support for Recycled Water; Desal Still Most Important

Though support for recycled water has been seen in San Diego, desalination is still seen as the most important method of diversifying water resources.

Support for adding treated, recycled water to the local drinking supply has grown significantly, but more San Diegans see desalination as the most important method of diversifying water resources, according to a survey presented today to the City Council's Natural Resources and Culture Committee.

Support for recycled water use reached 73 percent in the survey of 400 San Diegans, taken by a consultant last June and July. In 2004, 26 percent favored the use of recycled water, which was derisively nicknamed "toilet to tap."

"It's really interesting to see the growth in acceptance since 2004," said Councilman David Alvarez, the committee chairman. "I think the clear indication is that people have a different opinion than they did less than 10 years ago."

Area water officials have taken several steps in recent years to diversify San Diego's water supply, including raising the dam at the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside to increase capacity and approving construction of a massive desalination plant in Carlsbad.

In a broader section of the survey, in which 816 residents of San Diego County were canvassed, 34 percent tapped desalination as the most important way to diversify the local water supply, up from 25 percent in 2011.

Twenty-one percent thought recycling water was the most important method, down from 28 percent in 2011.

The city of San Diego has what it calls an Indirect Potable Re-Use Demonstration Project in Point Loma that shows how wastewater can be filtered and used again. The facility is available for tours.

The survey found that support for recycled water grew when respondents learned that California had strong health standards, that water was re-used in other communities, and that the process could increase the local water supply by 10 percent.

The survey carries a margin of error of 4.9 percent for the city of San Diego-only questions, and 3.4 percent on the countywide results.

The committee took no action on the report, which was presented only for information purposes.

—City News Service

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