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Is San Francisco drinking water at risk from local underground wells

Has the city already added local underground well water to this drinking water?
Sidney Drabkin

Soon San Francisco drinking water will be coming from four groundwater wells added to Hetch Hetchy Water System(, which would be dug on the city's west side, according to the the SanFrancisco Public Utilities Commission (See Groundwater Supply Project).

This is not a new idea on how to get drinking water for the city of San Francisco in an emergency: in the 1930s the same commission had the same idea. To have a standby immediate drinking water, for the city, in case of a major disaster--the City's officials came up with standby wells idea.

The drinking water that San Francisco uses today comes from Hetch Hetchy in the high Sierras and goes through a series of aqueducts to reach San Francisco: it is some of the purest water in the United States.

The new plan is to mix the water from the Sierras with the ground water from the city's wells. The question that is concerning many people is how pure is the new mixed water? A review done by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1990 found that the local ground water had traces of nitrates and bacteria coming from leaks in sewer mains and runoff from fertilized parks.

The water coming from the wells will have chemicals added to kill any bacteria and neutralize any sea water . There was a series of test done which showed that the taste of the water didn't change that much. Also the well water would be naturally purified, because it came through the aquifer that stretches from San Francisco County to San Mateo County.

While some people might think the idea is good, but how do we know if the water would really be safe to drink? It might help conserve San Francisco water from Hetch Hetchy, but shouldn't the city's well water only be used for watering plants, cleaning sidewalks and streets, buildings, watering plants and trees in the Golden Gate Park, and other vegetations around the city--but not as drinking water.

Let's not change something that does not need to be change. San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy water is some of the best drinking water in the United States; hardly anything needs to be added to purify it. Why risk that by mixing it with the city's ground water from wells.

Let's keep San Francisco's drinking water clean and pure.

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