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California Drought: Wasted Fresh Water Seen Surging Into San Jose Storm Drain

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Despite the current severe drought conditions across California, a storm drain near U.S. Highway 101 in San Jose seems to be filling with thousands of gallons of fresh water that are simply going to waste.

There hasn't been a storm in San Jose for many months. But even so, the storm
drain is full of fresh, clear water where it mixes with street debris and flows in an unending stream down the drain.

"I could hear it before I got to it," said San Jose plumber Rogelio Carrasco, who knows something about leaking water.

He heard the torrent while riding his bike recently and investigated. He told KPIX he was upset to discover what he called a steady flow of wasted water.

Decals painted on the side of the storm drain say it flows to the bay.

"In the middle of a drought, all this water being wasted is what caught my attention. And why is it not being put to good use?" he asked.

KPIX called the Santa Clara Valley Water District -- which manages the underground water supply -- to find out.

"I wouldn't say that water is being wasted in this case. This is shallow groundwater being pumped. And that shallow aquifer is not being used for drinking water supplies," said Santa Clara Valley Water District Groundwater Unit Manager Vanessa De La Piedra.

She said it's likely the same overflowing aquifer that causes flooding on
nearby Highway 101 where it passes beneath a railroad crossing.

For years, Caltrans has been pumping water from it to keep the pavement dry for drivers.

But Carrasco argued water officials should be trying to somehow conserve the
water instead of letting it go.

"They're telling us to save water, they're telling us to cut back on water but as an everyday thing," he said. "This water is just going down the drain every single day. This needs a long-term solution."

The water district says it agrees and will be looking at potential long-term plans for the water. But for now, there's no way to save it.

"One of the challenges to re-using that water is lack of infrastructure,
right now, to take that to where it could be used," De La Piedra said.

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