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New City Report Looks at Water Quality Issues in Local Watersheds

The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department has completed the 2020 Watershed Sanitary Survey, which evaluates any potential water quality issues at the source and will be used as a basis for future watershed management and planning efforts. A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a specific body of water. Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity, is part of the watershed. Issued every five years, the report identifies actual or potential causes of local source water contamination that might adversely affect the quality and treatability of water used by the City. The City’s tap water meets all state and federal drinking water health standards, which are the primary standards for treating and monitoring water.

Earth Week Cleanup in San Diego County

After its postponement and production of a smaller cleanup in 2020 due to COVID-19, I Love A Clean San Diego County returns its Creek to Bay Cleanup to its traditional annual date during Earth Week on Saturday, April 24.

This year’s environmental event will operate under the decentralized, socially-distanced model introduced last year where volunteers clean up close to their homes. Organizers aim to double the event’s litter removal impact by issuing a 30,000-pound, one-day challenge to all participants. This is an opportunity for all county residents to safely volunteer and cleanup streets, parks, canyons and beaches within their own neighborhoods. Free online volunteer registration opened on April 1 at CreektoBay.org.

 

Watershed Survey Helps Maintain San Diego Regional Water Quality

The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department conducts regular surveys of its watersheds to monitor and maintain high water quality within those watersheds. The City recently released its 2020 Watershed Sanitary Survey. Conducted and issued every five years since 1996 as required by California law, the report identifies actual or potential causes of local source water contamination that might adversely affect the quality and treatability of City of San Diego water.

Watershed areas such as the land around the El Capitan Reservoir was assessed in the 2020 Watershed Survey by the City of San Diego. Photo: City of San Diego

Watershed Survey Helps Maintain San Diego Regional Water Quality

The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department conducts regular surveys of its watersheds to monitor and maintain high water quality within those watersheds.

The City recently released its 2020 Watershed Sanitary Survey. Conducted and issued every five years since 1996 as required by California law, the report identifies actual or potential causes of local source water contamination that might adversely affect the quality and treatability of City of San Diego water.

The updated information is used as a basis for future watershed management and planning efforts. City of San Diego tap water meets all state and federal drinking water health standards, the primary standards for treating and monitoring water.

“Development and other activities in our watersheds can have a profound influence on the quality of our water,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department. “The Watershed Sanitary Survey is important for identifying potential negative impacts and ways to better protect our watersheds.”

Watershed protection critical to safe, reliable water supply

Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity like grazing cattle at this area near the Sutherland Reservoir, is part of the watershed. Photo: City of San Diego

Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity like grazing cattle at this area near the Sutherland Reservoir, is part of the watershed. Photo: City of San Diego

A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a specific body of water. Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity, is part of the watershed. Many places San Diego County residents live, work, and play in are watershed areas.

There are 11 westward draining watersheds in San Diego County.  Six are within the City of San Diego: San Dieguito River, Los Peñasquitos, Mission Bay and La Jolla, San Diego Bay, San Diego River, and Tijuana River.

The City of San Diego’s nine water supply reservoirs have a combined capacity of over 550,000 acre-feet and more than 900 square miles of watershed lands tributary to these reservoirs. Local runoff from watersheds captured in City reservoirs accounted for about 11% of total drinking water production from 2015-2020.

Six of San Diego County's watershed regions lie within the City of San Diego boundaries. Map: City of San Diego

Six of San Diego County’s watershed regions lie within the City of San Diego boundaries. Map: City of San Diego

Reservoirs are critical components of the regional water supply system, as water is supplied to nearly two million people in the City of San Diego and neighboring communities. Protecting these water sources is vital to providing healthy and safe drinking water. The public can assist in preventing watershed damage through source reduction and preventing stormwater runoff.

The 2020 survey noted these changes since the 2015 Watershed Sanitary Survey:

  • Total area of residential and commercial development in the watersheds increased slightly by about 2%.
  • A total of 412 new construction permits were recorded for onsite wastewater treatment systems located within the watersheds.
  • The number of fires occurring in the watersheds increased by about 8%.
  • Leaking underground storage sites decreased by 53%.
  • Sanitary sewer overflows increased by 36%.

The survey offers recommendations including continuing and expanding public awareness programs to help protect watershed, and implementing projects and programs to improve land management and water quality of source waters. All recommendations will be used for future watershed management and planning efforts.

The full 2020 Watershed Sanitary Survey, as well as past surveys, is available on the City’s website.

Editors Note: The City of San Diego is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies working collaboratively with the Water Authority to increase the value, reliability, and safety of water for ratepayers in San Diego County.

Oceanside Officials Counter Firm’s Claim That City Among Worst Water Quality

City officials in Oceanside described their drinking water as consistently “high-quality, safe and reliable” Wednesday in the hope of reassuring residents after a lawn care company ranked its water at 198 out of 200 cities nationwide. Rosemarie Chora, the city’s water utilities division manager, said a March 23 report from LawnStarter “hit big” as residents expressed alarm on social media.

Opinion: New Priorities Needed for California’s Next Drought

A series of key decisions await Gov. Gavin Newsom as the state heads back into a potential drought.

So this seems like the right moment to review what happened last time: Water was prioritized for big agriculture at the expense of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, endangered species and California communities. The State Water Board, in a review of the drought of 2014-15, found operations “not sustainable.”

Project Clean Water Launches Public Outreach Campaign

On World Water Day, March 22, government agencies, nonprofits, organizations and individual citizens came together in support of clean water and healthy communities for the launch of Project Clean Water’s public outreach campaign. Project Clean Water is a county-wide initiative dedicated to protecting water quality in San Diego County. The public outreach campaign aims to raise awareness of stormwater issues and encourage behaviors that promote water quality.

World Water Day Highlights Value of Water

Billions of people don’t have clean drinking water, or anywhere sanitary to wash their hands. Half of the world’s malnutrition cases are caused by a lack of water, sanitation and hygiene. Flooding caused nearly $77 billion in economic losses worldwide between 2009 and 2019.

California May Regulate ‘Forever’ Chemicals in Water Before EPA

California water suppliers could face state limits on the concentration of two so-called “forever chemicals” before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets national standards. Maximum contaminant levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are on track to be in place in California in 2023, Darrin Polhemus, deputy director for drinking water programs at the State Water Resources Control Board, said during a board meeting Tuesday about agency priorities for the year.

Premature or Precautionary? California is First to Tackle Microplastics in Drinking Water

California is poised to issue the world’s first guidelines for microplastics in drinking water despite no data on how plentiful they are in the state, no scientific agreement on how to test water for them and little research on their health risks.

The pieces of plastic — smaller than an ant, some so tiny they can be seen only with a microscope — have contaminated wildlife and human bodies through their food, air and water.