Three Peninsula cities may soon switch from groundwater to Hetch Hetchy water

DAN SCHREIBER/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTOThe system that delivers water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is in need of repairs.

DAN SCHREIBER/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTOThe system that delivers water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is in need of repairs.

Three Peninsula cities may soon receive more water from the Hetch Hetchy water system in an effort to begin saving more local groundwater for drought years.

Customers in the cities of Daly City, San Bruno and South San Francisco receive two-thirds of their water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, while the rest is pumped from an aquifer that stretches though the Peninsula. A new project would switch those three cities to water that is 100 percent from the Hetch Hetchy water system.

“The key aspect of that is by them reducing their pumping, that allows the natural recharge to build up underground because they’re not pumping,” said Greg Bartow, the SFPUC’s groundwater program manager. “Then that water gets banked there or stored there until such time that we need it for a drought.”

For the consumer, Bartow said there would be minimal impact during normal years. Since so much of their water supply already comes from the Hetch Hetchy system, the quality is not expected to be noticeably affected. The cost of the project has also been built into the current rates.

SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said he expects consumers to be pleased with the outcome of the work.

“On face value this project is going to help during times of drought,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. When you put in that context, people want to make sure they have a reliable water supply.”

In order for the cities to be able to draw on the underground water when needed, 16 new wells would be built between Daly City and Millbrae.

The public comment period for the environmental report ends Tuesday, and Jue said the plan is to begin construction on the new stations by May 2014. Daly City, San Bruno and Cal Water, which provides water to South San Francisco, would begin receiving the additional Hetch Hetchy water once construction is complete in July 2016.

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