file under: Water Reuse, Water, United States, Sustainability, Program Management, North America

CDM Smith Wins Global Project Innovation Award For San Diego Water Plan

August 27, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts—CDM Smith has been recognized by the International Water Association (IWA) with a Project Innovation Award (PIA) in the global planning category for the city of San Diego’s long-range water resources plan (LRWRP). PIA is a global competition established in 2006 to recognize outstanding and innovative engineering projects. This year’s awards will be presented at the 2014 IWA World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, held September 21-26, 2014.

CDM Smith partnered with the San Diego Public Utilities Department (SDPUD) to develop a LRWRP that addressed threats of drought, climate change and environmental catastrophes through 2035. This unprecedented plan—developed over 2 years through a highly collaborative process—was adopted unanimously by stakeholders. It identifies strategies to conserve and reuse water, protect the environment and reduce dependency on imported water.

San Diego, California, is the United States’ eighth largest city and among the country’s most desirable places to live. Its population of 1.3 million is expected to increase 20 percent by 2035, straining its limited water resources. With a current water demand of 200 million gallons per day, the city relies on imported water for more than 80 percent of its water supply. This imported water—conveyed hundreds of miles from the Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in northern California—is highly susceptible to drought, long-term climate change and environmental regulations protecting endangered species. Pumping imported water is also energy intensive and produces significant greenhouse gas emissions. 

SDPUD operates a complex water resources system, with connections to two large imported water aqueducts, three water treatment plants, three wastewater/reclamation plants, nine surface reservoirs and thousands of miles of distribution pipelines for more than 100 pumping zones. The portfolios evaluated by the LRWRP—representing dozens of combinations of various water conservation, recycled water, groundwater, desalination and rainwater harvesting options—were analyzed from multiple perspectives.

To compare the portfolios, a sophisticated computer systems model simulated water demands, imported and surface water operations, water and wastewater treatment, discharges of wastewater and stormwater to receiving waters, groundwater quality, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and total lifecycle costs. The recommended LRWRP strategy—flexible, cost-effective and environmentally conscious—expands the city’s successful water conservation program, purifies wastewater for storage into surface reservoirs for potable reuse, and recovers local groundwater. The plan and its evaluation techniques are expected to serve as a model to guide other cities worldwide as they strive to become more resilient to water threats. 

The project has also been honored with a 2014 Grand Prize in the planning category by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

CDM Smith provides lasting and integrated solutions in water, environment, transportation, energy and facilities to public and private clients worldwide. As a full-service engineering and construction firm, we deliver exceptional client service, quality results and enduring value across the entire project life cycle. 

Visit us at cdmsmith.com 

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