SAN DIEGO – Thousands of gallons of stormwater runoff was captured by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority last year. Now, all that water from recent storms and wet weather on the way is being reused for sustainability efforts, instead of running off into the San Diego Bay.

According to the San Diego International Airport, 800,000 gallons of storm water in 2022 was captured and reused for a bigger and better purpose. To give an idea of how much was collected, it’s enough to fill more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The water is being repurposed to heat and cool buildings at the San Diego International Airport. These efforts reduced the amount of potable water used for indoor temperature control.

The Stormwater Reuse Treatment System captures stormwater from the top of the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza and stores it in underground pipes with about 100,000 gallons of capacity, shared Cara Nager, the manager of Airport Planning and Environmental Affairs.

The captured water is then treated through a series of filters and ultraviolet light, then pumped to a central utility plant for use in the cooling towers that heat, ventilate and air condition SAN’s terminals and jet bridges.

It’s not just Terminal 2, amid Terminal 1 construction comes as a 1.5-million-gallon cistern being built on the south side of the airport campus with an expected completion date in 2024. The captured water will be reused in the cooling towers and also to flush toilets in the New Terminal 1.

“We’ll be capturing a lot more water that hits our airfields and different parts of the airport, so we’ll be using that water to also cool and heat our terminals as well as flush the toilets in terminal one,” Nager said.

A wet start to 2023, bringing positive change to the heart of San Diego, stormwater not gone to waste, but repurposed for passengers before they take to the sky.

“The main takeaway is really to look for ways to capture, reuse and conserve water wherever we can here at the airport. With how much rain we’re getting we’re able to capture that stormwater and be environmental stewards here at the airport,” Nager explained to FOX 5.

The Airport Authority’s Storm Water Management Plan outlines the organization’s efforts to help prevent, eliminate and reduce the discharge of polluted stormwater into the San Diego Bay.

SAN said the Airport Authority’s Stormwater Reuse Treatment System has captured, treated and
reused more than 5 million gallons of stormwater since the program started in 2018.