Ah, warm weather in San Diego! The sun is shining, the temperatures are up, and our AC is ON! Have you ever noticed when you run your AC that the machine produces water? That is condensate! Condensate is the result of water vapor in the air turning into liquid when it encounters the cold coils on your air conditioner.
Did you know that at San Diego International Airport (SAN) we actually capture this AC condensate water and reuse it?
For years, we have worked with our contractors to collect AC condensate and reuse it for non-potable purposes (not for drinking). It all started with the HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) units at a couple of passenger boarding bridges after an employee noticed excess water pooling on the tarmac. In the spirit of safety and drought-resilience, we developed a way to re-route this water and collect it in tanks. We then pump out the water and reuse it for things like washing equipment & sidewalks, mitigating dust, and now, cooling our terminals when we reuse it in our cooling tower. Doing so allows us to save precious drinking water that would otherwise be used for these purposes.
We currently collect AC condensate from 16 of our airfield passenger boarding bridges. In 2018, we collected and reused over 106,000 gallons! This summer we installed larger collection tanks to reduce the amount of service each tank needs. Also, in the near future, we plan to expand the collection to another 5-6 gates and find other creative uses for reusing the water. As the airport evolves, and as we refurbish our passenger boarding bridges, we look forward to our condensate capture and reuse program continuing to expand.
To learn more about how we reduce our water consumption and responsibly reuse water, check out our Water Stewardship Plan