California cities are working overtime to conserve water during the state’s record four-year drought–but one city became a victim of its own savings success when it was forced to dump more than half a million gallons of drinkable water down the drain.
California residents slashed water use by 29 percent statewide in May; however, the city of Poway in San Diego County conserved much more than that with an impressive 45 percent cut.
But the unused water simply sat in the city’s Blue Crystal Reservoir under the burning California sun, and, due to the heat, the water’s chloramine levels became too high for safe human consumption.
As a result, the city was forced to dump 550,000 gallons into a nearby canyon, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told NBC Bay Area.
“But here’s the thing,” Vaus told the outlet. “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.”
Vaus said the city was put in a bind because transporting the unused water to a nearby lake would be too expensive.
“If you think about it, making those hundred tanker truck runs back and forth, it just doesn’t pencil out,” he told San Diego ABC affiliate ABC 10. Vaus added that allowing the water to be pumped to households for irrigation was not an option because some could have ended up drinking it.
Vaus said the dumped water represents a tiny fraction of the water that Poway uses yearly, and city leaders are reportedly working on a plan to prevent the same incident from occurring in the future.
“This was just an unfortunate consequence that pains us, but we want to keep our people healthy,” the mayor told ABC.