Achieving Urban Water Sustainability and Resiliency
Adapting for Sustainable Growth
CDM Smith worked with SDPUD to assess key factors affecting water supply and demand over the next 25 years. The collaborative approach among CDM Smith, SDPUD and community stakeholders ensured that all voices were represented in the final plan, and proved highly effective.
“This was a true participatory, stakeholder-driven process, in that stakeholders were involved in all aspects of the plan’s development,” says Rodrigo. A stakeholder advisory committee representing environmental groups, the business community, residential development and other organizations helped develop objectives for the plan, suggested alternatives and provided crucial input. CDM Smith weighed city and stakeholder priorities—reliability, resiliency, cost, the environment, water quality and ease of implementation—against dozens of potential water supply options. This range of options included increasing conservation and recycled water supplies, desalination and new groundwater projects.
From these options, different portfolios, or sets of solutions that worked together, were created. The portfolios were evaluated from a triple-bottom-line perspective and for resiliency against potential climate change. A strategy incorporating two paths was chosen, with both paths relying heavily on new water conservation, expanded use of local groundwater, and use of purified wastewater for indirect potable reuse (IPR). To help the city share the benefits of IPR with the community, CDM Smith designed and constructed a 1-mgd demonstration project at the North City Water Reclamation Plant that allows visitors to travel through the center of the treatment processes. Extensive education and outreach features were developed by CDM Smith in partnership with the city, including information signs on the various unit processes, a color coded tour path, an educational video, and a script for the daily tours conducted at the facilities.
This critical plan sets a flexible road map for water resource investments, and will be continually assessed and updated every 5 to 10 years. “We at SDPUD believe this plan to be innovative, well accepted by stakeholders and highly strategic, and we are grateful for the entire planning team for such a successful effort,” says Steirer.
This was a true participatory process; stakeholders were involved in all aspects of the plan’s development.
Water Supply Innovation for a Growing City
San Diego imports over 80% of its water, while also growing rapidly. The long-term water plan guides a sustainable way forward, with a flexible roadmap for water investments to match the city's needs.