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Consumer

San Francisco Water Officials Say Mixing Hetch Hetchy, Local Groundwater Will Be Safe

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CBS SF Bay (con't)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is taking exception to claims that San Francisco’s tap water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir will soon include bacteria and nitrate.

According to an article in the San Francisco Examiner, later this year, construction will begin on groundwater wells in San Francisco, with plans starting in 2016 to begin mixing water from Hetch Hetchy with water pumped from the underground aquifer that stretches from Golden Gate Park south past Lake Merced and beyond the San Mateo County line.

The Examiner said the local groundwater would not be as clean as the water from Hetch Hetchy, often considered some of the best drinking water in the country. It mentioned that leaks from sewer mains and runoff from fertilized parks would mean that untreated and unblended, the local groundwater would contain levels of nitrate and coliform bacteria that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, would not be suitable for drinking. It said when blended with Hetch Hetchy water though, the water would meet national safety standards.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Assistant Manager Steve Ritchie wanted to clarify what was written.

“I’m saying not true. I think beyond the headlines, the story was fairly good factually,” Ritchie said. “The headlines were much more alarmist than we would like.”

The plan calls for the PUC to mix Hetch Hetchy water with groundwater from the aquifer.

“This water is safe and reliable and will continue to be safe and reliable,” said Ritchie. “It will be part of a good supply for San Franciscans. There is nothing to be alarmed about.”

Ritchie said the article in the Examiner pertained information that was outdated.

With concerns over the ongoing statewide drought and the ever-present threat of an earthquake, the PUC said there is a need to have a local water source, hence the decision to blend the water.

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