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CDFW Awards $37 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration, Protection and Scientific Study Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 40 multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects to receive funding under its Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 grant programs.

San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Chair Jim Madaffer-primary-View from the Chair

Jim Madaffer: Adjusting to the New Normal

As we adjust to the new – and hopefully temporary – realities of this pandemic, it’s worth reflecting on the good that is happening in our community, our state and our nation.

  • Doctors and nurses are bravely treating the sick by the thousands.
  • Grocery store employees are working long hours to stock shelves and serve customers.
  • Restaurants are evolving to offer takeout, and customers are showing up to support them.
  • Houses of worship are meeting remotely.
  • Companies are transitioning to make ventilators, sanitizers and other products that are so necessary.

Of course, food banks are also doing tremendous work to support residents who are suddenly without a paycheck. That’s why the Board leadership of the San Diego County Water Authority is joining regional efforts to fight the economic impacts of the pandemic by setting up a virtual food drive in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank.

The San Diego Food Bank helps feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people each year – and the numbers are growing rapidly. The Water Authority’s virtual food drive allows donors to select and purchase items such as canned meats, fruits, peanut butter and oatmeal for distribution to needy residents. Click here to donate – and don’t forget to share the link with family, friends and others who may want to participate.

I’ve heard it said that true colors come through during a crisis, which is why I’m proud to report that our regional efforts to safeguard our water supplies have generated substantial regional and even national attention in recent days. Click here for a great story by 10News San Diego.

We’re going to keep it up as long as needed to beat this thing.

View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.
The Nieves family's landscape makeover project won the Sweetwater Authority's contest in 2019. Photo: Sweetwater Authority 2020 landscape makeover

2020 Landscape Makeover Competition Opens Call For Entries

Fourteen water agencies in San Diego County seek the best in landscaping makeover projects for the regional WaterSmart 2020 Landscape Makeover competition. The annual contest offers the opportunity to showcase residential waterwise landscaping as a way to inspire other homeowners to consider replacing water-guzzling turf based designs.

The contest deadline for all participating agencies has now been extended to Friday, May 29. Homeowners may submit their entry online. You must be a resident within agency boundaries to participate. Each agency winner receives a $250 gift certificate and recognition on the agency website and social media channels.

Deborah Brandt's winning landscape includes contrasting elements, such a cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Deborah Brandt’s 2019 winning landscape for the Vista Irrigation District includes contrasting elements, such as cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Participating agencies include California American Water, the cities of Escondido, Oceanside, and San Diego, Fallbrook Public Utility District, Helix Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon Del Diablo Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, and Vista Irrigation District.

“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, water conservation specialist for the Vista Irrigation District.

Turf removal saves estimated 36 million gallons annually

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own Conservation Garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Oty Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own conservation garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Otay Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

With a majority of residential water use in San Diego County attributed to watering landscapes, regional water efficiency efforts focus on outdoor water use.  By showcasing their beautiful landscape in the WaterSmart Landscape Contest, homeowners can offer ideas and demonstrate how waterwise landscaping can be attractive as well.

Thanks to ongoing education and incentives, San Diego County residents have targeted more than one million square feet of turf grass for replacement with WaterSmart landscaping through free landscape makeover classes sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority between 2013 and 2018. The Water Authority has documented an estimated savings of 33 million gallons annually,

Online landscape makeover tips available

If you need some inspiration or guidance, WaterSmartSD offers landscape makeover videos you can view on demand. This series of videos mirrors the content of the in-person workshops and four-class series. Each video takes you step-by-step through the process of creating your own beautiful, water-efficient landscape.

From measuring your property to getting to know your soil to picking the right plants for the right place, these entertaining and informative videos will guide you along the path to a WaterSmart landscape.

In addition, WaterSmartSD provides a list of online resources and guides to planning your landscape design project, soil analysis, compost and mulch, plant choices, and irrigation.

For additional information on 2020 Landscape Makeover Contest entry rules, go to WaterSmartLandscapes.

Click on the gallery below for more 2020 landscape makeover inspiration from past winners.



COVID-19: Water Associations Reassure Public Tap Water Safe to Drink

As the global COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop and reports of bottled water shortages make headlines, the National Association of Water Companies, the American Water Works Association and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies recently issued a joint statement about the quality of tap water in North America.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, America’s drinking water supplies remain a safe and affordable way to access the water needed for drinking, cooking and maintaining personal hygiene during the COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19 is not present in drinking water supplies

Americans and Canadians can and should continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual as COVID-19 is not present in drinking water supplies. Disinfection processes like those practiced by water systems across the North America provide protection that includes filtration and disinfection of our surface water supplies and disinfection of our ground water sources. These treatments are effective in removing and/or inactivating viruses.

Efforts by some to profiteer off of bottled water shortages are inexcusable, but drinking water consumers can avoid being taken advantage of by simply using the water that is available in their homes from the tap.

“America’s water companies share a deep understanding of the importance of the reliability of quality water and wastewater services in our daily lives and during a public health crisis and are committed to taking steps to help ensure our water systems are functioning both reliably and safely,” says NAWC President and CEO Robert Powleson.

COVID-19 response efforts by water providers protect public health

The municipalities and private companies that make up the 51,000 community water systems across the U.S. are taking measures to help protect their workforce so they can continue to keep the water flowing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means limiting home repair visits and directing customers to pay bills online instead of coming into their water providers’ offices. Because of the outbreak and the need for access to clean water in order to promote personal hygiene and overall public health, many systems across the United States are suspending shutoffs for nonpayments. If you are facing financial difficulty and cannot afford to pay your water bill at this time, please be in direct contact with your water provider.

“Water utilities throughout the United States and Canada are prepared to protect public health in normal conditions and in emergencies, and they are committed to keeping safe water flowing, 24/7,” says AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “During times like these, safe and reliable water service is essential for drinking and food preparation, hand-washing and carrying away waste.”

‘Challenging times’

As COVID-19 response efforts evolve to meet the needs of the American and Canadian people, the member organizations represented by NAWC, AWWA and AMWA will continue to support the water systems by offering all of the water profession’s expertise and resources at their disposal. The agencies added that they’re confident in their ability to serve communities across the country with the highest level of efficiency, empathy and professionalism.

“These are challenging times for our nation, but despite the many uncertainties regarding COVID-19, Americans should take comfort in the fact that the virus does not spread through drinking water supplies. The nation’s water systems remain committed to the uninterrupted delivery of clean and safe drinking water for the duration of this crisis,” says AMWA CEO Diane VanDe Hei.

Imperial Valley farming-Holtville-coronavirus-WNN-2020

Imperial Valley Farmers Step Up Harvesting During Coronavirus Pandemic

With the world struggling through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, vegetable growers in the Imperial Valley are continuing to harvest vegetables.

Agriculture remains an essential service to serve California, the nation and the world. The vegetable harvest is ongoing as the Imperial Valley heads toward the final weeks of the winter vegetable crops.

“We have not to this point been impacted,” said farmer Scott Howington, president of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association. Howington’s farm operation, Oasis Farming Inc., focuses on organic crops.

But Howington said for his own operation, food safety protocols already in place are even more critical in light of the coronavirus.

More precautions for Imperial Valley harvest

When it comes to agriculture, he said, the farming work that goes into the planting of crops typically does not bring workers physically close together; it is the harvesting where there could be potential issues because of the proximity of the crews. That is where additional precautions are necessary due to the coronavirus. Howington said farmers are tailoring these steps to their specific operations.

“What we are doing is making sure the equipment is sanitized several times a day, and we are making sure crews keep the recommended distance from each other,” he said. “We are trying to make sure crews stay healthy.”

However, if workers and staff are feeling sick, they’re told to stay home or are sent home if they come to work and present any signs of illness, Howington said.

Scott Howington-Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association-

Imperial Valley farmer Scott Howington, president of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Vegetable farmers navigate through coronavirus

Precautions to make sure staff are healthy are equally important in other aspects of agriculture, including at the coolers where crops are stored, he said.

“It’s an interlocked chain,” said Howington. “You break any part of it, and it will begin to be an issue.”

So far, there have been no noticeable impacts on the vegetable industry in the Imperial Valley.

With the harvesting season still underway, the need for workers — many of them from Mexico — remains high. Howington pointed out that while there are restrictions on border crossings, those restrictions have not involved people crossing to work in the agriculture industry. Under the new conditions, crews from Mexico have been able to cross with just their work permit. But in case his workers need additional proof, Howington said he’s having letters prepared from his company to provide to crews.

Imperial Valley agriculture harvest helps feed world

For now, harvesting will continue into its final weeks of the season, and all food safety protocols are continuing to be followed.

Howington reminds everyone to follow their own safety protocols as they normally should do, from washing their fruits and vegetables, to peeling away top layers of the vegetables they eat.

“Everyone has to use their best judgement,” he said of both farmers and consumers.

As the world navigates through these challenging times and faces a shortage in supplies of basic necessities, the importance of agriculture takes on even greater meaning as consumers look to grocery stores and restaurants for some certainty that food supplies will remain available.

Howington said there has been no reduction in the produce grown and harvested in the Imperial Valley in the wake of the coronavirus. He said the valley continues to provide food that feeds people around the world.

“As a community, something like this does brighten the light on the impact agriculture has to the fabric of the economy and our society,” Howington said. “We are just doing what we normally do.”

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Welcomes Entries in 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest

Encinitas, CA—Olivenhain Municipal Water District invites residents with water-efficient gardens to enter the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The winning landscape will receive $250. The deadline to apply is April 27, and applications are available at

Carlsbad Desal Plant Workers Shelter-in-Place at Work to Ensure Water Safety

During these uncertain times, many people are sacrificing their lives for the greater good.

A highly specialized group of employees at public utility plants who have jobs that are impossible to do at home are some of these workers. Some workers at the Poseidon Desalination Water Plant in Carlsbad are going above and beyond to make sure our drinking water is safe from the coronavirus.

When we think of heroes during this coronavirus pandemic, we immediately think of medical staff, grocery workers, and delivery people. But remember to thank those who continue to provide water.



Coronavirus Outbreak Tests Resilience Of Western Water Workforce

Water agencies throughout the West are changing their operations during the coronavirus outbreak to make sure cities and farms don’t run dry.

Opinion: Hand-Washing Is Critical in the Fight Against Coronavirus, But What If You Don’t Have Safe Water?

The coronavirus pandemic is shining a spotlight on the weaknesses of social, economic and health safety nets we’ve long taken for granted, including our water system.

COVID-19: Not a Threat to California’s Water Supply

The COVID-19 health emergency has prompted “panic buying” of bottled water that has emptied store shelves and sown confusion over water safety. We talked to Dave Eggerton—executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center advisory council—about the state’s municipal water supply in light of the ongoing pandemic. ACWA is a statewide association whose 450 local public water agency members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California.