Assemblymember Gloria Moves to Save Pure Water San Diego Project and Millions in Taxpayer Dollars

Friday, September 6, 2019

Gloria Puts Forward Legislation to Advance Pure Water Project, Ensure Water Security for San Diego Region

SACRAMENTO, CA – In an emergency move to stop the potential waste of millions in taxpayer dollars and protect the City of San Diego’s long-term water security, California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) put forward legislation today to save the Pure Water San Diego project and ensure the project can move forward. Assembly Bill 1290 (AB 1290) would require, as a condition of state financing, a project labor agreement (PLA) for the Pure Water project so it can move forward despite frivolous litigation that has brought the project to a near complete halt.

Pure Water is a critically important project for the San Diego region. In the midst of climate change and seemingly endless droughts, Pure Water is critical to our water supply reliability and conservation goals. Right now, this major investment is in jeopardy with millions of taxpayer dollars at stake,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “This bill will save this project from almost certain failure and get it back on track. I am proud to work with a diverse mix of stakeholders to ensure this project gets done.

Pure Water San Diego is the City of San Diego’s program that will provide one-third of the city’s water supply – approximately 83 million gallons per day -- locally by 2035. It uses proven technology to clean recycled water into safe, high-quality drinking water that is drought-proof. The project, largely financed through a loan from the State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would represent one of the largest water recycling projects in the United States.

As the leader of the California Senate, I recognize the importance of Pure Water – not only as a San Diegan, but also in concert with the State’s water conservation goals,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, co-author of AB 1290. “We have the opportunity to serve as a model on water recycling for the rest of the country, but we must act quickly. Further delays on the Pure Water project threaten its viability and needlessly waste taxpayer dollars.”

San Diego is bound by strict regulatory deadlines for Pure Water San Diego. Getting this project back on schedule to deliver the commitment made by the City to regulators, our partners, and the environmental community is imperative,” said San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez. “As the largest capital project in San Diego’s history, we have to get this right and there is no time to waste. I thank Assemblymember Gloria and Pro Tem Atkins for their leadership on this bill to make sure we get this done.”

Since late June, Pure Water San Diego has been stalled due to frivolous litigation claiming that the project violates Proposition A – a 2012 ballot measure that prevents the City from mandating project labor agreements on construction except when required by state or federal law. AB 1290 would remedy the legal dispute of the Pure Water program, as a condition of receiving state funds, to permit a project labor agreement.

According to the City of San Diego’s court filings, costs are projected to increase $4 million for each month of delay beyond August 2019. Additionally, without legal certainty, the City could lose $646.6 million from the State Water Resources Control Board and could receive significant fines if it does not meet key milestones set by regulators.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Pure Water program,” said Tom Lemmon, business manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. “This project will not only result in thousands of green construction jobs, but it will ensure water reliability for San Diegans for decades to come. On behalf of the 35,000 members of the San Diego Building Trades, we are grateful for Assemblymember Gloria’s leadership to ensure this project gets done.”

Pure Water San Diego is a multi-benefit project that purifies recycled water, diversifies our local water supply, and is overall good for our environment,” said Matt O’Malley, Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper. “Our region needs Pure Water now and we cannot afford years of delays. We thank Assemblymember Gloria for his leadership and commitment to Pure Water San Diego.”

Pure Water San Diego creates a drought-proof source of locally-controlled water that is critical to the regional economy. In addition to job creation, a dependable water supply is important to nearly every sector,” said Jason Paguio with the Asian Business Association of San Diego. “I applaud Assemblymember Gloria for recognizing the importance of Pure Water San Diego and helping ensure the project gets back on track.

To date, AB 1290 has earned the support of the Sierra Club, the San Diego County Water Authority, San Diego Coastkeeper, the California State Building and Construction Trades, the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, San Diego 350, San Diego Audubon Society, IBEW Local 569, United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and HVAC Local 230, and the Asian Business Association of San Diego.

AB 1290 is scheduled to be heard by Assembly and Senate policy committees next week.