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OMWD Named “Business of the Year” for its Protection of Escondido Creek Watershed

Encinitas, CA—Representatives from the Escondido Creek Conservancy presented Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors with the “Business of the Year” award at OMWD’s December 11 meeting. OMWD received the award for its support of the Conservancy’s education program. The program has become increasingly successful each year, and today brings thousands of local students annually to Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve to learn about water quality and habitat protection.

Murray Reservoir environment projects - City of San Diego

San Diego Projects Improve Water Quality, Fish Habitat

Two projects underway will enhance fish habitat and water quality at Murray Reservoir.

The reservoir in Mission Trails Regional Park is owned by the City of San Diego and operated by its Public Utilities Department.

“As stewards of the area, it is important for us to improve and enhance the environment in and around Murray Reservoir,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “Working closely with state and local agencies allows us to better achieve this goal.”

Removing invasive plants

Over the next six months, the Urban Corps of San Diego County will remove non-native plants and trees along Airoso Avenue to Murray Dam as part of the Chaparral Canyon Habitat Restoration Project.

The removal of invasive plants and native habitat restoration will directly benefit the City of San Diego and the San Diego River Conservancy by improving water quality in the San Diego River, reducing the canyon’s vulnerability to wildfires.

Funding for the $382,513 project comes from the San Diego River Conservancy and the California’s Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014.

Improving fish habitat

In addition, the city is working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a fisheries habitat enhancement project at Murray Reservoir through June 2020. The project is intended to increase fish abundance and angling opportunities for the public by adding fish habitat structures to the reservoir.

The fish habitat structures, including brush and synthetic materials, will provide the type of physical cover that several fish species prefer to nest near. The new structures are intended to increase reproduction and provide additional areas where juvenile and adult fish can avoid predation.

Murray Reservoir is open daily from sunrise to sunset and closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. A valid California Fishing License is required for anglers 16 years of age or older.

Trees can be a great natural way to slow down rainwater before it reaches your soil. Photo: Thilo Becker/Pixabay

Catching and Storing Rainwater for Your Landscape

During the rainy fall and winter seasons in Southern California, catching and storing rainwater is beneficial for cutting down on irrigation costs. It can also be stored for later use through the rest of the year.

Know the path rainwater will take

If there are rain gutters on your house, water will flow into downspouts, where it can move with great force and speed. This is especially true in a large storm. Instead of allowing downspouts to discharge directly on hard surfaces like a driveway, path, or patio, plan ways to redirect downspout water into vegetated landscape areas. This will be a more efficient use of the natural irrigation.

Replacing downspouts with “rain chains” to slow down the water is one option. This way, water can be more easily absorbed when it reaches your landscape. Add a rain barrel or cistern at the bottom of downspouts or rain chains and let it overflow into your garden.

If your house does not have rain gutters, water shears off roof surfaces and can cause erosion damage. Cover areas under the eaves in permeable ground covers such as pea gravel, mulch, or rocks. Ground covers can reduce the compacting force of water falling on bare soil. Spread fresh leaf and wood chip mulch throughout the garden to slow down water. Healthy soil can withstand even the strongest rain. Once the rainwater is absorbed into the soil, your plants’ roots will grow deeper. This will help them thrive throughout the year.

Ways to store rainfall

Rainwater can also be harvested and stored. Rain barrels and cisterns directly connected to downspouts are great storage containers. Check out your local water district or water agency to see if there are any rebates or incentives available.

Stored water can be released gradually into the landscaping between winter rainstorms. This will help build up the soil sponge and ensure that native plants get adequate water when they need it most. If you need water in the summer and capture enough of it during the winter, you may be able to use your stored water for irrigation.

Both rain barrels and above–ground cisterns can be relatively inexpensive to purchase and easy to install. Use screens to keep mosquitos out. With minimum maintenance and common sense, you can keep the water safe and clean. If you plan to store rainwater, make sure the “first flush” is diverted directly into the landscaping before capturing the rainfall that follows. This is important because the “first flush” will collect debris and contaminants that have built up on surfaces throughout the dry months.

Use your landscape to capture rain

You can design your landscape to effectively collect water. Properly placed trees are excellent landscaping features to help capture rainfall, allowing it to be released slowly over time into the soil. Taller, stronger plants placed strategically can also allow you to control the flow of water.

With a little planning, you can capture and store rainwater easily and effectively during the rainy season and use it throughout the year.

The San Diego County Water Authority, its member agencies and partners offer other water-saving resources including free WaterSmart classes at

National City Firefighters Get WaterSmart with Sweetwater Authority

The National City Fire Department is learning more about the water system it relies on, thanks to some specialized training for firefighters from Sweetwater Authority staff. Firefighters wanted to learn more about the water distribution system and where the city’s water originates. The department also wanted to review the location of Sweetwater Authority’s treatment facilities, pump stations, and learn about any areas of lower water pressure or dead-end hydrants. The design of water distribution system facilities such as pipes, tanks, and pumps is dictated by fire protection requirements.

Water Cutbacks Set to Begin Under Deal Designed to ‘Buy Down Risk’ on Colorado River

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to critically low levels. The two U.S. states agreed to leave a portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, which the states’ representatives signed at Hoover Dam in May. California agreed to contribute water at a lower trigger point if reservoir levels continue to fall. And Mexico agreed under a separate accord to take steps to help prop up Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir near Las Vegas, which now sits 40% full after a nearly 20-year run of mostly dry years.

Precipitation Above Normal in Southern California and Adding Up in the North

Skiers and snowboarders already know this: California’s recent storms have lifted the state’s precipitation totals to the respectable range in the northern part of the state, and to well above normal in the south, according to Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services. Skiers and snowboarders already know this: California’s recent storms have lifted the state’s precipitation totals to the respectable range in the northern part of the state, and to well above normal in the south, according to Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services.

Congress to Halt Military Use of Toxic Foam Contaminating Drinking Water

Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to place stronger regulations on the chemicals. The bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act, has been the focus of intense negotiations for months. House Democrats saw it as their best chance to force President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency to increase its oversight of a class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — commonly known as PFAS — that have contaminated drinking water sources across the country.

How the New North American Trade Pact May Lead to a Sewage Cleanup of the Tijuana River Valley

Local economic and government officials Tuesday praised the new United States-Mexico-Canada deal as a way to further boost the San Diego-Tijuana cross-border economy. But an environmental concern — the runoff of raw sewage that often flows from Tijuana and fouls beaches from Imperial Beach to as far north as Coronado — might end up being one of the agreement’s most significant measures.

Without Urgent Action, California’s Sea-Level Rise a Threat to Housing, Economy, Report Says

Despite years of urgent warnings, local governments are moving too slow to prevent the worst damage from sea-level rise caused by climate change, risking repercussions as severe as housing shortages or an injured state economy, according to a report released today by the Legislative Analyst’s office. The report suggests California would need to start building 100,000 more housing units annually in coastal cities to mitigate the problems caused by sea-level rise. Funding for public schools might be affected as well, as higher sea levels hurt property values and lower tax revenue. And it’s not just beachside housing that will be impacted.

Gavin Newsom Talks Climate With Quebec’s Premier As State Braces For Rising Seas

Quebec Premier François Legault will be hosted by Gov. Gavin Newsom in Sacramento to discuss reducing greenhouse gases. Today’s closed-door meeting comes as the Trump administration accuses California of overstepping its bounds by entering into an international emissions agreement. Remind me: California’s cap-and-trade program has been around since 2013 and aims to limit the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Industries meet their goals by lowering emissions or buying state-auctioned permits that allow them to pollute. The permits can be bought and sold.