News Feature | January 4, 2018

San Diego's Post-Drought Water Woes: Lead, Sewage, Non-Revenue Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

san diego reg new

Despite the fact that California’s drought is over, San Diego’s water worries have not evaporated.

“In 2017, San Diego stopped worrying so much about whether it would have enough water and started worrying about what was in the water,” Voice of San Diego reported.

California’s drought ended as record snows swept the region last year, and Governor Jerry Brown officially lifted the drought emergency order in April, The Los Angeles Times reported. Nevertheless, water troubles remain, including “sewage-filled rivers and lead in school drinking water,” the report said.

“At one San Diego Unified school, officials found water containing vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, and lead, which can damage children’s brains. That school had a new synthetic turf field but unsafe drinking water,” the report said.

Officials tested all 967 local schools and 57 were found to have lead in their water.

Sewage spills are also on the radar in San Diego.

“The fear that sewage-filled water contributed to the hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego prompted more attention on sewage spills, though public health officials declined to test the water for hepatitis A, citing federal advice that suggested polluted rivers likely weren’t a factor,” the report said.

And yet another issue for water utilities in the area: non-revenue water.

“A vendor for San Diego’s two general aviation airports, Montgomery Field and Brown Field, has been using water from fire hydrants for about a decade without paying, costing the city an estimated $44,000,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, citing City Auditor Eduardo Luna.

“The report said the vendor’s contract contained no provisions to allow for the purchase or use of such water. The vendor had been taking it from hydrants without using a meter for about 10 years at the direction of city staff,” the report said.

Image credit: "downtown @ sunset," mike souza © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: