News Feature | February 27, 2017

San Francisco To Diversify Drinking Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,


San Francisco is trying a new recipe for tap water.

“Starting next month, city water officials will begin adding local groundwater to the Yosemite supplies that have satiated the area’s thirst since the 1930s and made the clean, crisp water here the envy of the nation,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The aim is to diversify the supply despite recent rains that have replenished local sources, the report said. After chlorine treatment, the groundwater will head to the Sunset and Sutro Reservoirs.

“The city’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and its sister lakes and dams in and around Yosemite National Park provide nearly all of the agency’s water, with a small share coming from Bay Area reservoirs. Although the Sierra supplies never reached a crisis point during the drought, dwindling runoff had water managers worried,” the report said.

Groundwater will be introduced in tiny doses as the city adds water from the Westside Groundwater Basin, San Francisco News reported. “By 2020, 4 million gallons of water per day will be pumped from the Westside Groundwater Basin to the city of San Francisco,” the report said.

According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, “Once the project is completed, the SFPUC will have six groundwater wells pumping up to 4 MGD of groundwater. San Francisco’s drinking water supplies are tested daily with a network of instrumentation throughout our regional water system as well as through manual sampling.”

Locals are asking if the taste of the water will change, but officials say any shifts will be miniscule.

“When you’re pouring a glass of water from a faucet or drinking fountain, you’re not going to notice a difference,” said Jeff Gilman, an official with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, per the Chronicle. “When you do a side-by-side comparison, [only then] you can taste the difference.”

Food critics agreed. “It’s more distinctive in a good way,” said taster and former Chronicle wine critic Jon Bonne. “It tastes like what you want spring water to taste like.”

Image credit: "san francisco," jeff gunn © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: