The Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility is an example of technical innovation and commitment to sustainability of both water and energy. The state-of-the-art facility allows Sweetwater Authority to provide its customers with a reliable, drought-proof and cost-effective local water source.
The facility is named for former Sweetwater Authority general manager Richard A. Reynolds, who was the visionary for this project. The facility was built in two phases in order to maintain affordability for Sweetwater Authority ratepayers. The first phase of construction, completed in 1999, left space in the facility to accommodate additional equipment for the eventual expansion. Construction for the phase two expansion included installation of three additional reverse osmosis trains, a new iron and manganese treatment system, drilling of five new brackish groundwater wells, installation of 23,000 feet of pipe, and additional system upgrades. The $42 million expansion project, made possible by significant grant funding from the state and federal government along with a partnership with the City of San Diego, was officially completed in June 2017.
The facility has a full production potential of 10 million gallons of drinking water per day for Sweetwater Authority and City of San Diego customers, enough for 18,000 families. Not only is the cost lower than that of buying imported water, the facility also uses less power to produce water than imported sources.
The project’s innovative and sustainable design includes 2,950 ground-mounted solar PV panels as an alternative energy source. The solar array provides a solution for rising energy costs due to the doubling of the facility’s production capacity, as well as a reduction in the plant’s overall carbon footprint. The energy provided by the solar array is enough to fully power the facility during the peak generation portion of the day.
The Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility stands as a shining example of what forward-thinking and strategic planning can accomplish.