The East County Advanced Water Purification Program broke ground Wednesday, marking an important milestone for the project, which could purify up to 11.5 million gallons of water per day when it's completed.
Program representatives, elected officials and water industry leaders gathered Wednesday at the future site of the treatment facility in Santee. The project was approved on May 19 by the East County AWP Joint Powers Authority, which owns and operates the program, and is a collaborative partnership between four agencies: Padre Dam, the city of El Cajon, the county of San Diego and the Helix Water District.
According to the JPA, the overall cost for the project is $950 million and it is estimated to create 2,500 jobs in the region. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2026 and is touted as having the capability to meet around 30% of current drinking water demands for East San Diego County.
"We are now one step closer to creating a local, reliable and sustainable drinking water source that will reduce our dependence on increasingly expensive imported water," said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam and JPA administrator. "The East County Advanced Water Purification Program is a smart investment that provides a long-term solution for increased stability in our communities and safeguards the vitality of our economy and quality of life."
After the water purification process, the purified water will be blended with water in Lake Jennings and treated again at Helix Water District's R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant before being distributed as drinking water.
The program has secured more than $123 million in grant funding and $796 million in low interest loans. Project leaders said they anticipate receiving additional state and federal grant funding.