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Oceanside city leaders and water experts placed a giant Google Maps “location pin” into the ground at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility in February, which officially marked the new recycled water project on the map. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority Oceanside wins

City of Oceanside Wins WateReuse Award of Excellence

The City of Oceanside received an Award of Excellence during the WateReuse Association virtual conference in June 2020. Oceanside received the Recycled Water Agency of the Year for small systems, which recognizes an agency that has developed recycled water, on a significant level, as an alternative water source within their service area, regionally, or statewide.

The development of water reuse programs addresses a variety of challenges currently faced by the City. Today, Oceanside imports most of its water from the Sacramento Bay Delta and the Colorado River, both of which are hundreds of miles away. In order to gain greater water-independence, the Oceanside City Council set a goal of a 50% local water supply by 2030. After almost a decade of regional and local planning efforts, the City of Oceanside has developed a comprehensive water reuse program including expanding water recycling and advanced water purification. The planning efforts have taken place since 2010 and have laid the groundwork for the City’s recycled water and potable reuse programs.

“The City of Oceanside is proud to receive the Recycled Water Agency of the Year Award,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “Our staff works hard to ensure the City continues to increase our local water supply reliability and provide multiple benefits to our residents and businesses by reusing our water resources to their fullest potential.”

70 million gallons of recycled water distributed yearly

Pure Water Oceanside Groundbreaking-February 2020-Water News Network-SDCWA

Construction is underway for the $67 million Pure Water Oceanside project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2021. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The City of Oceanside has 1.2 miles of recycled pipeline that distributed nearly 70 million gallons (236-acre feet) per year. The distribution system currently supplies recycled water to the Oceanside Municipal Golf Course, Goat Hills Golf Course, and El Corazon Sport Complex.

Oceanside is currently expanding its recycled water system in two phases. Phase 1 will add approximately seven miles of distribution pipelines and approximately 10 miles of additional distribution pipelines will be added for Phase 2. Recycled water customers will include commercial users with significant irrigation demands for landscaping such as golf courses, HOAs, City parks, as well as industrial and agricultural customers.

Pure Water Oceanside

The City is also pursuing an advanced water purification project called Pure Water Oceanside. The project will create between 3 to 5 million gallons a day of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof, and exceptionally pure.

Purified water, like the water created through Pure Water Oceanside, starts with recycled water that is further treated through proven advanced water purification processes to create clean and safe drinking water. The water purification process uses state-of-the-art purification steps that replicates and accelerates nature’s natural recycling process. Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County.

Through the expansion of recycled water and the development of Pure Water Oceanside, Oceanside has demonstrated leadership, creativity, and persistence in the development of a comprehensive water reuse program. Oceanside is well on its way to meet the City Council’s goal of 50% local water supply by 2030. By 2023 33% of Oceanside’s water supply will be local, which will increase to 56% by 2030.

New Seawater Intake Pumps-Carlsbad Desalination Plant-fish-friendly

New Fish-Friendly Seawater Intake Pumps at Carlsbad Desalination Plant

New fish-friendly seawater intake pumps recently commissioned  at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant are among the most environmentally advanced intake pumps in the world.

The three intake pumps, manufactured by Indar, are part of a broader effort to ensure the long-term health of the marine environment near the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which sits on the shores of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

New intake pumps and state-of-the-art technology

Installation of the new intake pumps is part of a phased program to replace the existing seawater intake and discharge facilities with state-of-the-art technology to protect marine life that wasn’t available when the plant was operating with source water from the Encina Power Station. The closure of the power station in December 2018 led to temporary intake-discharge operations until the new intake pumps came online. The next steps include adding new intake screens, designed to prevent any sea-life larger than 1 millimeter (thicker than a credit card) from entering the plant.

Essential work during COVID-19 pandemic

The work to complete the construction and commissioning of the new fish-friendly seawater intake pumps was part of the essential work allowed under California guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contractor, KiewitShea Joint Venture, worked in accordance with guidelines adopted by the State Building and Construction Trades Council and approved by Governor Gavin Newsom for essential construction. The contractor worked uninterrupted to complete the project per the June 30, 2020, deadline set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board without any health or safety violations.

The eventual transition of the desal plant to operate independent of the power plant was anticipated in the 2012 Water Purchase Agreement between Poseidon Water, which manages and operates the facility, and the San Diego County Water Authority, which purchases the water for use across the region. Currently, the plant provides about 10% of the region’s water supply.

New intakes part of advanced sea-life protection

New seawater intake pumps-Carlsbad Desalination Plant-Fish Friendly

The new intake screens are the final part of upgrades, which when complete in 2023, will make the Carlsbad Desalination Plant the first desalination facility in California to comply with the 2015 California Ocean Plan Amendment, which is among the most advanced sea-life protection measures in the world. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The new intake screens are the final part of upgrades, which when complete in 2023, will make the Carlsbad Desalination Plant the first desalination facility in California to comply with the 2015 California Ocean Plan Amendment, which is among the most advanced sea-life protection measures in the world. Poseidon Water also plans to implement the same state-of-the-art intake system at its proposed Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant in Orange County.

“We are excited to reach this milestone at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant that highlights our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “This plant will continue to be a vital regional resource for decades to come, and it demonstrates that environmental enhancements can go hand-in-hand with water supply sustainability.”

Carlsbad Desalination Plant improves sustainability

The Water Authority can purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet of water from the Carlsbad plant per year – enough to serve approximately 400,000 people annually. The new pumps, combined with additional future investments, will continue to provide the San Diego region with a critically important drought-proof water supply from the Pacific Ocean.

The plant is a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to increase the county’s water supply reliability through supply diversification. San Diego County’s water portfolio approach has been successful in minimizing the region’s vulnerability to drought and other water supply emergencies.

“Using the most advanced technology for the seawater intake system builds on the Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s long history of protecting and preserving the coastal environment,” said Poseidon CEO Carlos Riva. “The new intake system will make this one of the most environmentally sensitive desalination plants in the world, and further enhance our region’s water reliability and climate resiliency.”

For more information, go to the plant website,, or to the Water Authority’s website,

New Helix Water District Connection Improves Emergency Communication

East San Diego County firefighters and first responders will be better prepared to respond to emergencies due to improved communication capacity through a new partnership with the Helix Water District. The Heartland Communication Facility Authority recently installed a new radio repeater on Helix Water’s Calavo tank, located near Mt. Helix.

21 State Attorneys General Sue Over New Trump Water Rule

Attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday, alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders.

El Cajon To Use About $2 Million to Save Local Waterway

A largely ignored waterway in El Cajon is about to get some much-needed TLC through $2 million in grant money.

Broadway Creek, a sliver in the 52-mile San Diego River watershed, runs behind businesses along Broadway. Much of the creek and its wetland habitat sit between homes and an apartment complex near Magnolia Avenue, in the heart of the city. 

Court Rules IID Holds Water Rights

The Imperial Irrigation District has won the battle over water rights in Imperial County.

The Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeals ruled a split decision Thursday. The lawsuit, filed by the local farmers and former IID Director Michael Abatti.

San Diego Homes, Businesses Subsidize Industrial Wastewater Polluters by Millions of Dollars

San Diego homes and businesses have been improperly charged tens of millions of dollars for a program that keeps toxic sewer water from being discharged into the Pacific Ocean, the City Auditor’s Office has found.

City of Oceanside Picked as Recycled Water Agency of the Year

Oceanside was named Recycled Water Agency of the Year among small systems for its efforts to recycle water and cut down on alternative water sources.

Farmers Doing More With Less Need Help From Above

Joel Ackerknecht manages about 3,500 acres of land north and west of Bakersfield and south of Arvin for DM Camp and Sons, a more than 80-year-old Kern County farming operation that grows a variety of specialty crops, including wine grapes, nuts and sweet potatoes.

A combination of expanding global demand for California produce, stretched water resources, receding ground water levels and increasing government regulations caused Ackerknecht to search for ways to do more with less.

Helix Water District Unfurls New Landscaping at Administration Building

The Helix Water District’s administration office in La Mesa is sporting a new look with drought tolerant landscaping that has increased the curb appeal of the headquarters.

Three styles of drought-tolerant landscapes are planted around three sides of the building on University Avenue, Lee Avenue and Quince Street. The Mediterranean garden goes along University, a desert style on Lee and California native landscaping on Quince. Each is filled with flowers, cacti and other plants in myriad colors, scents, styles and textures.