Padre Dam Water District launches pilot drinking water program

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By Jo Moreland
Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
For The Alpine Sun
SANTEE —- Praise flowed at the grand opening for a new Padre Dam Municipal Water District project that could eventually supply about 20 percent of the district’s drinking water needs.
A crowd of elected representatives, local dignitaries and interested community members toured the water district’s Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Facility on April 10 at Padre Dam’s Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve area.

By Jo Moreland
Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
For The Alpine Sun
SANTEE —- Praise flowed at the grand opening for a new Padre Dam Municipal Water District project that could eventually supply about 20 percent of the district’s drinking water needs.
A crowd of elected representatives, local dignitaries and interested community members toured the water district’s Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Facility on April 10 at Padre Dam’s Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve area.
Most appeared fascinated at the process that will purify about 100,000 gallons of recycled water daily during a one-year pilot program for East San Diego County, including the Alpine area.
“We are very excited about this day,” Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam’s CEO and general manager, told invited guests. “Five months ago we were sitting on dirt (for the groundbreaking) and now we’re here. We are committed.”
Padre Dam, a member of the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce, now has to import all drinking water for the area.
District officials and others were delighted at the prospect of supplying up to 10 million gallons a day to East County communities, if the pilot project successfully meets the state’s strict water quality standards.
Padre Dam is already working with county, Helix Water District and City of El Cajon authorities to determine whether an East County Advanced Water Purification Program is possible.
“Each thing that we do is more insurance that we will have a more reliable water supply in this area,” Padre Dam Director Augie Scalzitti said. “This is a great, great backup to supplement our water system.”
The water from the demonstration facility won’t be used for drinking water, according to the district. Scalzitti said if state water quality standards are met, the Padre Dam board is looking at building a bigger purification plant with the help of federal and state grants.
Speakers lauded the Padre Dam district for its long-time leadership in using water properly and the collaborative effort to help achieve a high-quality, locally controlled water resource that would be good for the environment as well as cost-effective.
“People will be coming from all over the world to look at it,” said Santee Mayor Randy Voepel, noting the city is already fielding inquiries about the project.
While coping with California’s record-setting drought, Assemblyman Brian Jones of Santee said, the state is trying to avoid a territorial battle over water.
“We’re in this altogether,” Jones said. “And we won’t find solutions if we draw battle lines.”
Carlisle commented that the Padre Dam district has conserved more than 20 percent of its water since 2007 and that the conservation “needs to be taken into consideration.”
East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, a strong supporter of the Padre Dam project, told everyone that initially she wasn’t really excited about the idea. Jacob credited Carlisle and the Padre Dam board’s “vision and will” for convincing her.
“It’s another first for East County and I’ll look forward to taking a drink,” the supervisor said.
Assemblyman Jones and representatives from Congressmen Duncan Hunter, a Chamber member, and Scott Peters as well as State Senator Joel Anderson presented the district with special proclamations.
To learn more about Padre Dam, call (619) 448-3111 or visit www.PadreDam.org.

Padre Dam Water District launches pilot drinking water program

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