San Diego County

Boil water advisory has South San Diego County businesses pivot or close

Is your business impacted by the boil water advisory in southwestern San Diego County? Here's what you can do, and what other businesses are doing

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Update as of Aug. 26, 6:24 p.m.: The boil water advisory has been lifted for all affected businesses and residents in southwestern San Diego County. No food facility inspection or approval is needed for restaurants to reopen, according to Cal-Am.

The County requests that affected businesses complete a voluntary Boil Water Advisory Economic Impact Survey. County officials will use the information to determine if they should attempt to seek state and/or federal assistance. The survey does not guarantee eligibility for assistance and is NOT a substitution for submitting a claim with Cal-Am or your insurance company. The deadline for the survey is Sept. 15.

A large part of San Diego County's South Bay is in a boil water advisory after E. coli contaminants were found in the drinking water system of a South Bay service provider this week. Communities in Silver Strand, Imperial Beach, parts of San Diego, Chula Vista and San Ysidro are all affected — including residents and businesses. Find a map of those effected here.

On top of the thousands of residents impacted, hundreds of businesses would need to shut down operations due to unsafe handling conditions, a spokesperson for the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said. It was not safe for businesses to remain in operation if they could not properly wash dishes or hands.

What should businesses impacted by the boil water advisory do?

Businesses were urged to call the county at 858-505-6900 for a plan to modify their operations. They should also keep track of any impact the boil water advisory had on typical operations for assistance in the future. A form would be offered at a later date to note their impacts, a spokesperson for the County Office of Emergency Services said.

The County's Department of Environmental Health said that places within the boil water advisory can sell prepackaged foods and must have bottled water available for customers to wash their hands with.

"Any business that would like to operate must submit a Modified Health Permit application, modified menu, and operational procedures must be submitted to DEHQ," the City of Imperial Beach posted on social media platform X, formerly known as twitter.

How the boil water advisory is affecting South Bay businesses

Some businesses like Mike Hess Brewing Imperial Beach did find a way to stay open on Friday and serve their customers safely — but they said it's still making a major dent on their earnings.

Mike Hess Brewing got the alert from the County Thursday night — all restaurants and bars that make and serve food need to stop immediately. They could keep serving beer, but what about their crowds that come for food?

"Definitely Fridays we have our big lunch rushes here. It's not very big today as you can see," said Araceli Villa from Mike Hess Brewing.

It's taking a toll on the number of customers they usually see. But overnight, they thought of a loophole.

"We came up with a crazy idea: We have a food truck birria spot for them to cater to our customers for the day which is amazing of them to do that last minute for us," Villa added.

Nothing is being washed or reused on-site. Instead, all beers are served in single use, recyclable cups, and bottled water has become popular, even for IB's four-legged patrons.

Doggie Gone Grooming in IB has had to pivot last minute too.

"This morning is when it hits me, OK, that water is going to get in their eyes. I brush their teeth so one way or another they might be swallowing it," said Aucelia Karina Freeman, a groomer at Doggie Gone Grooming.

IB Mayor Paloma Aguirre responded to the advisory's effect on businesses in her city on Friday.

"They’re hurting, I mean they’re in pain. Our restaurants have to be closed because of the drinking water advisory – people are missing out on wages. People are missing out on tips. People are confused and missing out on revenue. Health care centers had to reroute their patients to other clinics outside of the area. Not everyone can afford the privilege of doling out money to buy bottled water," Mayor Aguirre said.

"I’m here to continue to keep the pressure on [California-American Water Company] to make sure that they do right by our community," Aguirre said.

Businesses were brought these documents from the County's Department Environmental Health amid southwestern San Diego County's boil water advisory. (NBC 7)
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