San Diego

Concerns Over Water Quality at MCAS Miramar Fire Station 62

Frustration is being voiced by a small group of civilian firefighters based at MCAS Miramar who are concerned with water quality on the east side of the base.

Last Friday, crews based at Miramar Fire Dept. Station 62 said they were left without water to shower or even wash their hands.

"They said we could go to the bathroom, but we can't wash our hands, wash dishes or use the water for anything, so it's the abruptness of the situation that happened that we're concerned about," said Philip Claessens, a firefighter and treasurer with the Miramar Local F-289.

Signs were posted in bathrooms at Station 62 that said the shower and sinks were "secured," meaning they could not be used.

A spokesperson for the base says the problem is connected to a water tank contaminated with bacteria.

Currently, water is trucked from the west side of MCAS Miramar to tanks located on the east side of the base at the cost of $110,000 annually. The transfer is necessary because city water pipes end on the east side of the base.

The state determined the water from those pipes was stagnant and not safe, according to base spokesperson Cpt. Matthew Gregory

As a solution, the base started transferring the water to seven tanks every week.

"Last Friday, three of those tanks that don't really get a lot of usage, tested positive for some bacterial growth. So out an abundance of caution, all seven were shut off," said Gregory.

That included a 5,000 gallon tank that serves Station 62.

The bacteria was found in three smaller tanks. Water in those tanks was not changed on a regular basis because they were rarely used, explained Cpt. Gregory.

"All the tanks moving forward will be drained to about 10 to 25% of their normal level, extra chlorine will be added to that water to make it more sanitary, and then all those tanks will be topped off weekly," said Gregory.

Meanwhile, base officials are working on a solution. There is an aqueduct owned by the County Water Authority located between Tierrasanta and Scripps Ranch, said Gregory. The base would like to tap into the water source.

"We're hoping to tap into that so that we can merge our existing pipe infrastructure into that aqueduct. That will help correct the flow issues that we have making the water within our pipes and taps potable," said Gregory.

The fix would be costly. Gregory estimates a $3 million price tag. A meeting between officials with the base, city of San Diego, and the County Water Authority is scheduled on Oct. 29.

"We just want to have a water system that is adequate all the time, constantly tested, posted for us, whenever they get it, in a timely matter to let us know on a daily basis our water is adequate enough to use," said Claessens.

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