Can you drink San Diego tap water?

Can you drink San Diego tap water?

The City of San Diego prides itself in delivering clean and safe water - and this for the last 100 years! San Diego not only delivers water to its citizens; it also supplies treated water to the cities of Del Mar, Coronado and Imperial Beach. That’s more than 1.36 million people served, or the equivalent of almost 10,000 Olympic swimming pools annually. Being able to deliver such high standard of water is a major achievement, considering most of San Diego water needs to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles before reaching the City. Despite the San Diego tap water being perfectly safe, many residents complain about how awful the water tastes. This is in part due to the Chlorine which is added for transportation. Install a filter such as TAPP to your faucet, at the end of your water’s long journey and never drink bad tasting water again.

Where does San Diego tap water come from?

Like most of California’s coastal towns, San Diego has very limited water resources and needs to purchase 90% of its water from outside. San Diego’s water supply is connected to the Colorado River Aqueduct, which was initially built to bring water to Los Angeles. The Aqueduct connects to the State Water Project which runs all the way to San Francisco, and gets its raw water from the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. After traveling thousands of miles, water is stored in reservoirs along with collected rainwater. The City's Public Utilities Department runs three water treatment plants utilizing several treatment processes. Through 3 steps known as coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation, the raw water is rid of most heavy particles. Then comes filtration, which removes the remaining smaller particles, resulting in a beautiful crystal clear water. Drinking water is then treated to remove viruses, bacteria, and other pathogenic organisms. The treatment plants have different approaches to disinfection. The Alvarado and Miramar water treatment plants use ozone as the disinfectant, while the Otay Water Treatment Plant uses chlorine dioxide. This is known as the primary disinfection. It is followed by secondary disinfection, to help prevent microbial contamination from occurring in the water distribution system. This is achieved by adding chlorine and ammonia to the water to form chloramines. The final step is to control corrosion by adjusting the pH, to limit the amount of leaching from pipes.

What is in San Diego tap water and who regulates it?

Tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), while bottled water which is a packaged good, is regulated by the FDA. Although both the EPA and FDA have similar quality standards, FDA standards are looser in terms of how often bottled water needs to be tested and they do not require companies to share their test results with consumers. So if you want to know exactly what it is you are drinking - it’s a no-brainer - you should switch to tap water right away. Not only are EPA guidelines strict, EWG (Environmental Working Group) - a nonprofit organization, have set their own, tougher guidelines which they call: health guidelines. Check out the EWG website for the detailed list of contaminants in your area, all you need is your zip code. According to the EWG report, 8 cancerogenous contaminants above health guidelines were found in “City of San Diego” water. All of which are below the legal limit set by the EPA. These can be grouped as TTHMs, HAAs and last is Chromium. Reducing these will reduce possible long-term health risks. Moreover, according to water research by OrbMedia microplastics were found in 94% of all tap water in the United States. In summary, tap water in San Diego is still legally safe to drink but to be on the safe side, an active carbon filter such as TAPP could be used. TAPP removes TTHMs, HAAs and reduces Chromium 6 by 40-70%. To remove Chromium 6 almost entirely then activated carbon should be combined with a reverse osmosis or Ion Exchange filter. TAPP will also remove any bad taste or odor you might find in your water, microplastics, as well as lead and other heavy metals which can deposit via poorly maintained pipes in your building.

Drinking water in public places and restaurants

Unfortunately, there is no law requiring restaurants to serve their customers tap water for free, most do it as a courtesy. As a matter of fact, as California is a drought-stricken state and is under water restrictions, in some cases it might be illegal for them to serve you water unless you specifically ask for it. With respect to water fountains or bubblers, unfortunately, concerns about water quality and contamination have led to the decline of public water-fountain use. So before you go out and about in San Diego, fill up and carry a reusable water bottle. You should also use the MyTAPP app to find the location of SanDiego’s few refill stations.

Bottled water

Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Fiji, Mountain Valley, Pure Life, and Smartwater are some of the most popular bottled waters. But don’t be fooled, the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) concluded that an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is just filtered tap water, at a premium price. The good news is that California leads the way in terms of beverage container recycling rates! The recycling rate of beverage containers peaked at a whopping 85% in 2013. The bad news is that Southern California residents have fewer options to cash in on recyclables recently. This is due to a decrease in the value of plastic, pushing many recycling centers to shut down. If you don’t want your plastic bottle to end up in a landfill or in the ocean, carry a reusable water bottle with you. If you must buy a plastic bottle (or any other beverage container) look for “CA CASH REFUND” or “CA CRV” on the label. Bringing it to a recycling center could earn you up to ¢10 per container. Using a filter like TAPP, you will never need to use any plastic linked with your water consumption. When it’s time to change the filter, dispose of its biodegradable cartridge with organic waste.


  • Bottled water is one of the biggest food and health scams in recent history. It’s a waste of money and our nature.
  • If you want to know exactly what minerals and contaminants are in your water, drink from the tap at home.
  • If you don’t like the taste of tap water or are worried about reducing TTHMs, HAAs, Chromium or lead, get a high-quality faucet-mount water filter such as TAPP with biodegradable filter cartridges.
  • Ask for tap water in restaurants and never feel ashamed about it.
  • Get a refillable bottle and keep it filled up with fresh tap water.
  • Refuse bottled water whenever possible, or look for “CA CASH REFUND” or “CA CRV” on the label and bring it to a recycling center
Do you drink tap water in San Diego? We want your feedback and opinion. Agree or disagree? Tell us! Sources:
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