The city of Poway recently dumped 550,000 gallons of drinking water from a reservoir tank into a canyon because the water inside the tank went bad.
“Into the canyon, yeah. And it pains me,” said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus.
Vaus said the city is a victim of its water conservation success after the water went “bad.” Poway topped the county in water conservation in May with a 45-percent reduction. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, that meant the water in the Blue Crystal reservoir wasn’t used and sat stagnant.
The water eventually exceeded state limits for chloramines.
“But here’s the thing,” said Vaus. “I’d much rather be standing here talking about having to dump a half million gallons of water than talking about people getting sick from drinking water that wasn’t safe.”
The reservoir serves a small group of residents on the eastern edge of Poway, west of Highway 67.
Many homeowners have their own tanks that draw from wells on their property. Some residents wondered why the water wasn’t used for irrigation or even taken back to the Lake Poway treatment facility. Vaus said it would have taken about 100 trips for a tanker truck and it just wasn’t feasible.
Vaus said in the big picture it was a relatively small amount of water – 2/100ths of 1 percent of what Poway used last year. The approximate cost of the water is $2,000.
Moving forward, city officials say they will take a close look at how to prevent the problem from happening again.
“We can’t get too low because we need it for fire protection, yet folks there aren’t using as much because we’re asking them to conserve. So combine with the heat and it, just pains me,” said Vaus.