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Wholesale Water Rates Kept In Check for 2019

Wholesale water rates adopted today by the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors include some of the smallest increases in the past 15 years due to successful litigation against the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and strategic use of financial reserves. They also highlight a historic shift in water costs: The Water Authority’s independent and highly reliable supplies from the 2003 Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement are now less expensive for the region than MWD, and that difference will grow in the years ahead.

Carlsbad resident Munira Coomber's landscaping project wins the 2018 Watersmart Landscaping Contest. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain MWD

Carlsbad Resident Wins 2018 Olivenhain MWD Landscape Contest

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors honored Munira Coomber as OMWD’s 2018 winner of the annual Watersmart Landscape Contest at its June 20 meeting.

Coomber’s landscape features attractive water-efficient plants in both front and back yards as well as creative design ideas. The centerpiece in the front of the home is an old water fountain that was given new life by turning it into a beautiful succulent planter. A succulent wall and raised garden beds of strawberries and herbs create a relaxing outdoor living space in the backyard.

The centerpiece in the front of the home is an old water fountain that was given new life by turning it into a beautiful succulent planter. Photo: Courtesy OMWD Olivenhain MWD

The centerpiece in the front of the home is an old water fountain that was given new life by turning it into a beautiful succulent planter. Photo: Courtesy OMWD

“We knew from the start that we wanted low maintenance and low water use landscaping,” said Coomber. “We’ve been very happy with our low water bill and the variety of textures and colors our waterwise landscaping has delivered.”

“Ms. Coomber’s inspirational landscape is both beautiful and water-efficient and has demonstrated how colorful and attractive watersmart landscapes can be,” said board director Robert Topolovac. “Eyecatching landscapes create enthusiasm for water-efficient gardens in the community.”

Raised planter beds and a living wall are features in this award-winning landscaping project. Photo: Courtesy OMWD

The Watersmart Landscape Contest is held annually by water agencies throughout San Diego County to showcase attractive landscapes that use less water than conventional turf-heavy landscapes. Contest entries are judged on curb appeal, landscape and irrigation design, and environmental considerations. More information and photos of winning landscapes are available at

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is a public agency providing water, wastewater services, recycled water, hydroelectricity, and operation of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. Organized in 1959, OMWD currently serves approximately 86,000 customers over 48 square miles in northern San Diego County.

READ MORE: Helix Water District Names Winner of 2018 Watersmart Landscape Contest

Arizona Commits To Drought Plan For Colorado River

Arizona water officials committed Thursday to reach a multi-state plan by the end of the year to stave off Colorado River water shortages, or at least lessen the impact. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been prodding Western states to wrap up drought contingency plans, one each in the lower and upper basins. Little snowpack, rising temperatures and ongoing drought have led to steady declines in the river that serves 40 million people in seven U.S. states.

San Diego’s Biggest Infrastructure Need Isn’t Streets — It’s Storm Drains

Underneath San Diego streets lies a network of pipes and tunnels that most people never see. But when it rains, that network is busy carrying water out from neighborhoods and into the city’s rivers, bays and beaches. Much of that network is on the verge of collapse, and the city has nowhere near enough money to fix it. A report from the City Auditor’s Office released this month notes a staggering $459 million funding shortfall for stormwater infrastructure.

New State Water Conservation Laws Set For 2019

In less than six months, California will begin to enact new statewide water conservation laws. Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668 call for new urban-efficiency standards for indoor and outdoor uses, water lost to leaks and appropriate variances. The bills will take effect in 2019, although there will a grace period before enforcement, according to Mario Remillard, water conservation specialist for the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. Additionally, water agencies are required to stay within their water budgets regardless of current drought conditions. However, the California State Water Board will not enforce these standards until November 2023.

Deeply Talks: New Water Storage In California

In this episode of Deeply Talks, Tara Lohan, managing editor of Water Deeply, talks with Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and Rachel Zwillinger, water policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife, about how water storage projects in California are being funded, which projects are receiving state money and what kinds of water projects the state really needs.

Coronado Mayor, Chief Of EPA Discuss Repeated Tijuana Sewage Spills

Coronado’s mayor flew to Oklahoma this week to talk with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency about possible solutions to the recurring Tijuana sewage spills that sully the San Diego County coastline. Mayor Richard Bailey and Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke one-on-one for about 20 minutes Tuesday during an annual meeting between leading environmental experts and regulators from Mexico, the United States and Canada. “We discussed possible next steps and (Pruitt) expressed a strong desire for some tangible progress in the very near future,” Mayor Richard Bailey said.

San Vicente Aqueduct

1951: Construction Milestone for Pipeline 2, San Vicente Aqueduct

When World War II concluded, most experts expected San Diego’s population to decrease, but that was not the case. Pipeline 1 proved inadequate to meet the region’s water needs. Drought years in 1950-51 increased concerns about water shortages.

The Water Authority appealed to the U.S. Navy to help build a second pipeline. It was willing, but its hands were tied by the Bureau of Reclamation, which built the first pipeline because of the wartime emergency. With the war over, it could not fund the project unless Congress authoritzed the Navy to request it.

The first chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority, Fred Heilbron, undertook the effort to create consensus to build Pipeline 2. Among his tactics: crashing a breakfast meeting between the Secretary of the Navy and then president of the Metropolitan Water District board of directors; and enlisting help lobbying Congress including Senator Richard M. Nixon.

The effort paid off. Officials celebrated every milestone of construction, including the installation of the first section of pipe.