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An open letter to San Diego's Mayor and City Council


By John Pilch
President, San Carlos Area Council


March 22, 2011 (San Diego) --I'm intrigued by what's happening in the San Carlos Community with respect to water usage. While we're being advised of the continuing Stage 2 Drought Alert, the City of San Diego is selling water from two  hydrants on Lake Murray Blvd. West Frontage Road to the contractor who is constructing the Southwest Powerlink.


The 7,500 gallon trucks, bearing the name of Nordic Rental, fill up at one of the hydrants and transport 6,200 gallons each to the SDG&E construction site as far east as Jacumba.


They don't fill completely so as to not have a load problem, per one of the drivers with whom I spoke. SDG&E advised that this is all legal and they have a contract with the City of San Diego. The D-7 Council Office verified this and advised that SDG&E is paying the same price as water customers in the City.

The bottom line is why are citizens conserving water, sometimes to their detriment, while the City of San Diego sells hundreds of thousands of gallons of potable water for the Powerlink Project. The contractor has 6-8 trucks that make at least two trips, and probably more, from the hydrants to the jobsite in the far eastern area of SD County on a daily basis and has been doing so for at least one month. It doesn't make sense, other than to tap into a new source of revenue for the City of SD.

Therefore, I'm formally requesting that the appropriate City Council Committee (LU&H?) conduct an investigation into this sale of potable water and why the recycled water the City produces at the North City site isn't being used instead. The supervisor said it was used for dust abatement at the job site, so why use potable rather than recycled water, especially since the "purple pipe" water is available as far east as Santee?


With SR-52 now open to SR-67, this is a viable solution to keeping San Diego treated water in San Diego. Please acknowledge receipt of this request and provide our community with a complete explanation as to why this is occurring.


The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. If you wish to submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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An open letter to San Diego's Mayor and City Council

I have personally seen the water trucks filling up at the intersection of Lake Jennings Park Rd and El Monte Rd. from the hydrants there, with no meter. On one hand Helix water district is telling us they have to destroy El Monte Valley with a sand mining operation for the next 10 - 20 years so they can pump treated sewage for drinking water for its customers because of "the drought". And on the other hand, SDG&E gets to take as much as they need with nary a concern. Hmm. Wonder who is paying whom and vice-versa? Just asking.

Access to the water and

Access to the water and regulatory requirements (local, county, and state) are likely major impediments to recycled water use on construction projects such as this.

Going through a lengthy permitting process and submitting to numerous implementation requirements may be justified for a permanent recycled water installation such as landscape irrigation or a commercial cooling tower, but may not make sense for a temporary construction project.

Within the city, recycled use is governed by "Rules and Regulations For Recycled Water Use Within the City of San Diego" ( Section 4 deals specifically with recycled water for construction use.

Section 4.1 states "The use of recycled water for construction purposes requires approval of the City and other regulatory agencies" including the California Department of Public Health. This means going through a possibly lengthy permit approval process and, once approved, following numerous requirements such as cleaning and disinfection of equipment that used recycled water before it can be moved to another job site.

According to the Public Utilities Department, there are only 5 construction sites presently using recycled water on their projects in San Diego, representing 1% of all construction sites.

SDG&E's project is outside the City of San Diego, so compliance with county rules apply ( For the county, plans for recycled water use need to be submitted to the Department of Environmental Health as well as the involved water department. Depending on the precise job sites, the local jurisidiction(s) may have additional rules.

As for the new SR-52 extension (which is not quite yet opened), that may or may not eliminate mileage as a problem, and mileage may not be the only reason recycled water isn't being used.

I haven't asked SDG&E but my guess is that they evaluated the feasibility of using recycled water for their project and rejected it because of the regulatory issues and/or access to a recycled hookup was too cumbersome.

Lots of water in Jacumba

That's very interesting as Jacumba has so much ground, well, water that in many areas people have problems with their leach lines as the water table is only several feet below ground. So, it's impossible to believe they are trucking water to Jacumba for any reason.