In 2022, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority captured, treated, and reused 812,500 gallons of stormwater, it has announced.

This water, which would otherwise have run off into San Diego Bay, was used to heat and cool buildings at San Diego International Airport (SAN), reducing the amount of potable water used for this purpose. 

According to the airport authority, 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. The captured water is then treated using a series of high-rate media filters and ultraviolet light, before being pumped to a central utility plant for use in the cooling towers that heat, ventilate, and air condition SAN’s terminals and jet bridges. The Stormwater Reuse Treatment System has captured, treated, and reused more than 5 million gallons of stormwater since its inception in 2018.   

“Through the capturing and reusing of stormwater, the airport authority can meet strict stormwater pollution prevention regulations by keeping stormwater on-site rather than discharging it to San Diego Bay,” said airport authority president & CEO Kimberly Becker. “Capturing and reusing it also supports our sustainability goals to reduce potable water use for non-potable purposes.” 

The airport authority is expanding its capture and reuse system up to 4.5 million gallons with the addition of two cisterns located on the north and south side of the airport campus. A 3-million-gallon cistern was built in 2021. This cistern will eventually be connected to the Rental Car Center, where the recycled water will be used to wash cars. The water captured is currently used for vegetation and landscaping around the north side of the airport. 

As a part of the New T1 project, a 1.5-million-gallon cistern is being built on the south side of the airport campus with a projected completion date in 2024. The captured water will be reused in the cooling towers and also to flush toilets in the New Terminal 1.  

The airport authority has a Storm Water Management Plan which outlines how the organisation is committed to preventing, eliminating, and reducing the discharge of polluted stormwater into the surrounding environment and San Diego Bay.

Image: San Diego International Airport