The City of San Fernando is currently importing water from the Metropolitan Water District after shutting down one of its wells last week.

City officials shut down Well 2A in the Sylmar groundwater basin after a large concentration of nitrates was discovered in the water on April 13. The same day, the City turned on the booster pump from MWD to make up for the missing water.

This is the first time the City has had to import water since 2015.

San Fernando officials are currently installing a nitrate treatment system on a different well that would negate the need for MWD water. But it is estimated that the project won’t be completed until sometime between September and December.

The City estimates that nearly 50 percent of water production would need to come from the MWD pump. Based on estimated water usage for the rest of the year, City Director of Public Works Matt Baumgardner anticipates the charges from MWD to be between $850,000 to $1.3 million. 

It is not yet known how much this will increase water bills for San Fernando residents.

“This is going to depend on whether or not we’re more on the six-month end of the spectrum in September or the nine-month end of the spectrum being December,” Baumgardner said. “We just wanted to be able to give that range.”

The City — which consumes 925 million gallons of water per year — owns four wells in the Sylmar basin: 2A, 3, 4 and 7A. Presently, only wells 4 and 7A are operational.

Well 2A was the largest provider of water for the City, having an annual maximum yield of at least 1 billion gallons. Well 3, the second largest provider, was shut down in 2009 due to high nitrate concentration; a treatment system was purchased last November and is awaiting installation. 

Wells 4 and 7A combined account for 60 percent of the City’s water usage under optimal conditions.  

The City is working on a treatment system for Well 2A, but the estimated $7 million project would not be completed until 18-24 months after funding is completed.