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Lake Jennings - East County Advanced Water Purification Program - Woranuch Joyce

Water Agencies Approve Funds for East County Advanced Water Purification Project

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward after a new funding agreement was approved.

The program’s partner agencies – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, Helix Water District and the County of San Diego – recently approved the Interim Funding Agreement. The final vote from the County of San Diego took place July 10.

The project is expected to begin producing water in 2025.

Purified water reduces dependence on imported water

The agreement requires each agency to commit $2.35 million ($9.4 million total) toward the program, with the aim to create a new, local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.

“This is an important milestone toward the completion of this innovative and much-needed program, said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Working together with our partners, we are moving one step closer to reducing our dependence on imported water and putting the mechanisms in place to support our economy and quality of life well into the future.”

Sustainable drinking water project

An artist's rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Gourtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District water repurification water reliability

An artist’s rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Courtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Once complete, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will generate up to 11.5 million gallons per day of new drinking water. This represents approximately 30 percent of current drinking water consumption for residents within the Padre Dam service area (Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest), and the Helix service area (including the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, and El Cajon, and the Spring Valley area). This represents approximately 373,000 residents.

The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally, and then purify the recycled water at an advanced water treatment facility using four advanced water purification steps producing water that is near-distilled in quality. The purified water will then be blended with water in Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

Industry Day planned for prospective designers and contractors

Next steps for the project include formation of a Joint Powers Authority between Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, and the County of San Diego to serve as the governing body for the program.

An industry day is being planned in mid-August to provide notice to prospective designers and contractors on the initiation of a selection process for the progressive design-build packages that will begin posting in Fall 2019.

Partner agencies also continue to pursue grant and loan opportunities to help fund the estimated $528 million project.

The water-recycling project is intended to diversify East County’s drinking water supply and reduce the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Padre Dam offers tours of the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. To schedule a tour or for more information on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, visit

READ MORE: East County Advanced Water Purification Project On Track for 2025

Planting succulents that are high in water or salt content, such as aloe, can help with fire prevention in your sustainable landscape. Photo: Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay

Fire Prevention Tips for Landscapes

Fire is a real and constant threat in Southern California. This is especially true in wildland interface areas. For effective fire prevention, it is important to select plants, choose landscape designs and perform consistent maintenance in accordance with fire safety guidelines.

Plan for fire safety

Landscapes should resist ignition and provide 35 ft. of actively maintained defensible space around structures and access zones. This maximizes fire prevention and also allows for access by fire crews, if necessary.

Native plants adapted for fire prevention

Many of San Diego County’s native plant communities, like chaparral, are able to survive and recover from infrequent fire. Some plants use fire to signal available space to grow and thus start the germination process. However, when fires are too frequent, event the most well-adapted plants will have trouble surviving.

Invasive species have made fires more frequent. In addition, they allow fires to burn longer and with hotter intensity. Fire prevention in landscaping means it is even more important to avoid invasive plants in fire-prone zones.

Use plants that resist ignition

Select the types of native plants that will be less likely to ignite and produce airborne plant embers. Such plants will include those with a high salt and/or water and low volatile oil content in their leaves. Succulents are a great example of these types of plants. Agaves, aloes, crassulas and other succulents store extra water in their fleshy leaves.

For fire prevention, avoid messy, oily trees and shrubs like eucalyptus, since they will ignite quickly and burn hot and long. These plants will also release embers into the air and further spread the fire.

To prevent fires, maintenance is key. Preventive maintenance includes regularly removing dry grass, thatch, brush, weeds, litter, waste and dead and dying vegetation. Dead leaves and branches are particularly flammable, especially on evergreen shrubs or vines. Pruning trees and thinning shrubs and perennials regularly will also help prevent fires.

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at

Sweetwater Authority Awards Grants to Support Water Efficiency

Chula Vista, Calif. – The Sweetwater Authority Board of Directors presented checks to the City of Chula Vista and the Gentry Glen Home Owners Association at the Board’s July 10 meeting. The Authority’s robust water efficiency program helps customers save water and money through grants, rebates and resources.

California Legislators Halt Cadiz Water Project, Bill Heads To Gov. Newsom’s Desk

The Cadiz groundwater pumping project in the Mojave Desert hit a major roadblock on Thursday, when the California State Assembly advanced a bill that could halt its progress for up to two years. If the bill becomes law, Cadiz, Inc.’s proposed project will need to undergo additional environmental review to prove its extraction plans will not harm the surrounding desert. S.B. 307, authored by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, cleared the Assembly 49-23, where it was led by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, who carried similar Cadiz-related legislation in 2017 and 2018 that stalled before final votes. After years of legislative battles and intense lobbying, the bill now only needs Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to become law.

California’s Coast Is Disappearing, And The Debate Over What To Do About It Is In Full Swing

Even as quakes, wildfires and drought have taken up most of our focus, the slow-moving disaster of rising seas has paralyzed Californians, and left us with “both too much and not enough time” to act, as environment reporter Rosanna Xia wrote in a special report examining sea level rise and the future of California’s disappearing coastline. The report, read by more than half a million people since it was published online and in print on Sunday, laid out our limited options in a future where certain areas of California will almost certainly be submerged. Cities such as San Francisco, Pacifica, Imperial Beach and many more are already dealing with the ocean at their doorstep.

Oceanside Drinking Water Is Safe

The city wants residents to know its drinking water is more than safe, according to its recently released 2018 Water Quality Report. According to the report, the city didn’t detect lead in its drinking water and is compliant with federal and state lead regulations. The report lists all detected substances in the city’s drinking water, broken down by each of its three sources. The city tests for more than 90 different substances throughout the year. According to Water Utilities Director Cari Dale, the city closely monitors its drinking water to “ensure the highest quality of water is delivered” to customers.

Changes To Operations Of Sweetwater Authority Raise Some Concerns

A series of changes related to the operations of the Sweetwater Authority has given rise to concerns that the South Bay water agency’s governing board has ceded too much power to the general manager and diminished transparency. Among the set of revisions to policies that govern the water agency and its governing board: directors are no longer allowed to seek information from staff without the general manager’s knowledge, the Sweetwater Authority is no longer required to keep minutes of meetings when directors on committees convene and the general manager is now allowed to spend up to $75,000 without board approval.

Audit Reveals Major Lack Of Planning On Multimillion-Dollar ‘Smart Meter’ Project

The city of San Diego’s plan to replace every water meter in the city is more than two years behind schedule, millions of dollars over budget and probably won’t be finished for at least another three years, according to a city audit released Thursday. The audit, prompted in part by a Voice of San Diego and NBC 7 Responds investigation, gives new insight into the city’s outrageous lack of planning for a multimillion-dollar project involving one of the most basic municipal services: water. For years, the city has wanted to install over a quarter-million new “smart” water meters, which are supposed to increase billing accuracy, provide real-time data on water use and eliminate the need for city employees to go to homes and offices across the city to read each meter.

East County Advanced Water Purification Program Gets $9.4M In Interim Funding

The East County Advanced Water Purification Program progressed closer to completion with its program’s partner agencies — Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, Helix Water District and the County of San Diego — approving an Interim Funding Agreement (IFA). The IFA will ensure that the program can move forward with funding for the next year. The IFA states each agency will commit $2.35 million ($9.4 million total) towards the program that aims to create a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.

The Fight Over Monterey Peninsula’s Water Future is a Debate Over Who Gets To Decide

What is at stake is the water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. Consuming water drawn from the Carmel River is no longer feasible, neither ecologically nor legally. But the power to decide on an alternative supply is largely vested in the hands of public officials from outside the region.