San Diego County Airport
The San Diego Airport’s north side stormwater cistern. Photo via @SDAirportAuth Twitter

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority captured, treated and reused 812,500 gallons of stormwater last year, according to a report released Wednesday.

That water, which would otherwise naturally have run off into San Diego Bay, was then used to heat and cool buildings at San Diego International Airport.

The airport authority captures stormwater from the top of the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza and stores it in underground pipes with about 100,000 gallons of capacity as part of the stormwater reuse treatment system.

“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 to San Diego Bay,” authority President and CEO Kimberly Becker said. “In addition, capturing and reusing supports the airport authority’s sustainability goals to reduce potable water use for non-potable purposes and most importantly to be good environmental stewards.”

The captured water is 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. Since its inception in 2018, the system has captured, treated and reused more than 5 million gallons of stormwater.

Additionally, the airport authority is expanding its 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 and will eventually be connected to the Rental Car Center with the recycled water being used to wash cars, a statement from the authority read. The water captured is currently used for vegetation and landscaping around the north side of the airport.

As a part of the new Terminal 1 project, a 1.5-million-gallon cistern is being built on the south side of the 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.

City News Service contributed to this article.