Governor Signs Legislation by Atkins and Gloria to Protect San Diego’s Water Security

Saturday, October 12, 2019

New Law Will Get San Diego’s Water Recycling Project, Pure Water San Diego, Back on Track

SACRAMENTO, CA – San Diego’s Pure Water project is one step closer to becoming a reality. Last night, California Governor Gavin Newsom took decisive action to stop the potential waste of millions in taxpayer dollars and protect the City of San Diego’s long-term water security by signing legislation by California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) to save the project and move it forward. The bill, Assembly Bill 1290 (AB 1290) will protect the Pure Water San Diego project from further litigation by requiring the use a project labor agreement (PLA) as a condition of receiving a previously approved state funds.

Thanks to Governor Newsom’s action, we are one step closer to getting this project done,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “Pure Water San Diego is a critically important project for our region – one that will create thousands of middle-class jobs and strengthen our overall water security. I appreciate the Governor’s support of AB 1290 and his recognition of our immediate need to address climate change by promoting proven and effective water conservation projects.”

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.

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.

“AB 1290 helps ensure the timely and cost-effective construction of Pure Water San Diego, the vitally important project to ensure our region has a reliable supply of safe water,” Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins said. “We have been working on this project for a long time, and I am grateful to Assemblymember Todd Gloria for introducing AB 1290 -- and Governor Newsom for signing it -- to remove one of the last remaining obstacles in Pure Water’s path.”


“A centerpiece of this region’s continued investment in water supply reliability, resiliency, and sustaining the region’s economy and quality of life is the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Program,” said Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority. “The Pure Water Program represents the next major increment of water supply within the San Diego region – a locally controlled water supply that is not subject to a rapidly changing climatology and hydrology affecting the state’s snowpack and water supply availability. We believe Governor Newsom’s signature of AB 1290 will allow the Pure Water Program to continue to advance within its construction timeline and schedule to bring those vital water supplies on-line to our region.”

“I’m glad that Governor Newsom signed this bill to get Pure Water San Diego back on track,” said San Diego Council President Georgette Gómez. “Now we can get to work delivering on the commitments made by the City to regulators, our partners, and the community. I thank Assemblymember Gloria and Senate President pro Tempore Atkins for their leadership on this bill.”

 “We’re grateful that Governor Newsom recognizes the critical importance of this project,” said Tom Lemmon, Business Manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. “Pure Water is too important to the region’s water security to allow a fringe group of contractors to hold it up in court. We’re especially appreciative of Assemblymember Todd Gloria and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins for their steadfast commitment to Pure Water San Diego.”

“AB 1290 presents San Diego with a clear solution,” said Brandon Dawson, Policy Advocate with Sierra Club California. “There is an urgent need to move forward with the Pure Water project, not only to increase water reliability, but to maintain important financial controls on this critical infrastructure investment. We applaud the Governor for signing this important bill.”

AB 1290 goes into effect on January 1, 2020.