Photo Courtesy of MWD

An aerial view of the Sanitation Districts' Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson where the water recycling facility would be located.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A large-scale effort to purify wastewater and inject it into groundwater basins could feasibly produce enough water to serve 335,000 homes, according to a study released by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The project, jointly proposed by MWD and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, would use wastewater treated at a Carson plant, but instead of discharging it into the ocean, the water would be further purified using techniques such as reverse osmosis then stored in four groundwater basins in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

With the study completed and backing the feasibility of the Regional Recycled Water Program, officials can move forward with construction of a demonstration facility, according to the MWD.

“We are very excited this program is moving closer to reality,” MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. “With drought, climate change and environmental restrictions changing the way we manage water, we are committed to developing and investing in new local sources of water to supplement the region’s other supplies.

“This program is one part of the region’s comprehensive effort to increase water supplies that are drought-proof and climate resilient. And it complements the many other solutions we are working on,” Kightlinger said.

According to MWD, the four Los Angeles and Orange county basins envisioned for the project serve 7.2 million people and are recharged with local rainwater, water imported from the Colorado River and Northern California and, in some cases, recycled water.

MWD officials said the proposed recycled water project would allow the imported water to be saved for other uses, such as emergency use in future droughts. The project would also help ensure the recharging of basins, which have been depleted due to years of drought.

MWD estimated the cost of the project at about $2.7 billion for construction of an advanced-treatment facility in Carson and installation of about 60 miles of pipeline to carry the purified water to the groundwater basins. Annual operation and maintenance costs were estimated at $129 million.

According to the water wholesaler, the project would produce up to 150 million gallons of purified water a day, enough to serve 335,000 homes.

MWD officials noted that further studies are needed before a decision will be made on whether to move ahead with the full project. The agency is designing the planned demonstration facility, which will treat about 500,000 gallons a day and would operate for at least one year.