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Unlocking climate change resilience with One Water
Life along California’s coastline is idyllic for residents who love the sand, surf and ample sunshine. But an uptick in devastating heat waves, wildfires and droughts have placed local and regional water supplies at risk across the state. In Santa Monica, leaders recognized a true One Water vision that reduced reliance on outside water supplies was crucial to the community’s thriving future. The city partnered with our water experts to establish a diverse and sustainable supply using holistic One Water principles.
Conserving, developing and protecting Santa Monica’s water supplies
The team designed the vision around three main components: increasing water conservation efforts to permanently reduce demand, developing sustainable and drought-resilient alternative water supplies, and expanding local groundwater production through restoration of impaired supplies. Each effort would come together in a One Water framework, where all water types are treated as potential potable sources.
Holistically evaluating every water supply and management solution for innovation opportunities led to the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP). SWIP was a progressive design-build project to leverage stormwater, dry weather urban runoff and municipal wastewater to produce advanced treated recycled water for non-potable uses and potable reuse. By diverting and harvesting runoff, SWIP would increase local supply for residents. Not to mention, less runoff would improve beach water quality – reducing closures and threats to public health.
SWIP’s potential centered on two major projects. The first was upgrading the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) to leverage reverse osmosis, which will enhance the treated water quality to a level where it can be used as diluent water for indirect potable reuse. A first in California where stormwater and urban runoff will be directly injected to replenish the local groundwater basin. Other improvements at SMURRF spearheaded by our specialists included increasing system capacity, installing stabilization chemicals, enclosing the effluent equalization tank and designing new security fencing.
The second element of SWIP was a new 1.5 mgd advanced water treatment facility (AWTF). Built under an existing parking lot, the AWTF will treat runoff and wastewater using a membrane bioreactor utilizing a low-pressure ultrafiltration system, cartridge filtration, reverse osmosis, a chlorine-based UV advanced oxidation process and post treatment facilities using calcium chloride and caustic for pH, alkalinity and Langelier Saturation Index values of product water for indirect potable reuse through subsurface injection. As part of the new AWTF, the team designed and installed a new storage tank, two lift stations in nearby congested areas and a wastewater diversion structure to feed the AWTF during rain events.
One of the crucial steps to completion was the project permitting for SWIP. Our experts worked closely with a wide range of entities, including the California Water Quality Control Board Division of Drinking Water, Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, Coastal Commission and several others to obtain approvals and avoid permit-related delays.
Bold steps lead to One Water success
One Water requires taking bold steps. Santa Monica’s willingness to innovate its water supply will make it a national leader in extracting value from all types of water. When construction is complete in 2022, residents will enjoy a more resilient local supply that can stand strong against the fires, droughts and other climate change impacts that threaten water availability.