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Another Homeowner Association Converts to Recycled Water

Encinitas, Calif. — The Vida Pacifica Homeowner Association in Encinitas has begun receiving locally produced recycled water from Olivenhain Municipal Water District. Converting to recycled water will allow the HOA to save approximately 9.6 acre-feet of potable water annually, or over 3.1 million gallons. Each acre-foot contains about enough water to cover a football field, one foot deep.

Quality of Life Dashboard-Water Use

Quality of Life Dashboard for San Diego County Highlights Water Use

Water use in the San Diego region was one of the positive trends in the 2020 Quality of Life Dashboard report released today by the Equinox Project.

The Quality of Life Dashboard measures and benchmarks environmental and economic trends throughout the region. Half of the 16 indicators used to measure San Diego County’s quality of life were either positive or neutral in 2019. The Dashboard tracks the county’s progress on critical quality-of-life issues and provides examples of what is working well and how the region can improve.

Six of the 16 indicators received a “thumbs-up” in the report, including water use, air quality, electricity use and renewable energy & storage. Five indicators, including traffic congestion, received a “thumbs-down.” Two indicators were neutral and three new indicators were added this year: Climate Change & Planning, Civic Engagement, and Regional Leadership in a Time of Crisis.

“The pandemic has shown the inequities that exist in our region as well as how they’re often interrelated,” said Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director of The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego, where the Equinox Project is based. “The pandemic is in some ways instructive of some ways in which climate change will play out in our region in the future as well as ways that may exacerbate equality. It’s also instructive in how our community is coming together to respond to the challenges at hand with strength, innovation and resilience.”

Quality of Life Dashboard-Dr. Emily Young-The Nonprofit Institute-Water Use

“The pandemic is in some ways instructive of some ways in which climate change will play out in our region in the future as well as ways that may exacerbate equality,” said Dr. Emily Young, executive director of The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego.

Residential water consumption decreased after dry 2018

As part of a long-term trend toward water efficiency and conservation, residential water use in San Diego County decreased from 2018 to 2019.

“Fluctuations in weather, including current La Niña conditions that typically mean a dry winter for California, highlight the importance of diversifying our regional water supply sources and continued investments in the infrastructure to deliver a safe, reliable supply to the region,” said Goldy Herbon, San Diego County Water Authority senior water resources specialist.

Residential Water Use-Quality of Life Dashboard

Residential water use per capita in 2019 decreased as compared to 2018, and remained lower than historical rates. Graphic: The Nonprofit Institute/University of San Diego

“Water use received a thumbs-up because daily residential water consumption in San Diego County decreased by 8.8% from 91 gallons per capita in 2018 to 83 gallons in 2019,” according to the report. “Residential water use still remains below the 2011 pre-drought levels, which at its peak in 2007 reached 119 gallons per capita. The 2018 year was an extremely dry year but the 2019 year saw rainfall return to the level experienced in 2017, which likely contributed to water use returning to its 2017 level.”

Diversification and water management strategies

“San Diego County’s water supply has diversified significantly over the last couple of decades,” according to the report. “While the San Diego County Water Authority has decreased the region’s reliance on water from the Metropolitan Water District which serves parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, the region still remains heavily reliant on water from the Colorado River (through water supply purchases from MWD and through water conserved and purchased through the Imperial Irrigation District and through water conserved by lining the All-American and Coachella canals).”

Diversified water-Quality of Life Dashboard-Water Use

San Diego County’s water supply has diversified significantly over the last couple of decades. Graphic: The Nonprofit Institute/University of San Diego

The report also credited the San Diego region’s development of integrated regional water management strategies, which is a collaborative effort aimed at developing long-term water supply reliability, improving water quality, and protecting natural resources.

“The San Diego County Water Authority, along with the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego, has developed an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP), and the IRWMP builds on local water and regional management plans within the San Diego Region,” the report noted. “The IRWMP was developed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders that make up the Regional Advisory Committee, representation includes water management agencies, resource conservation agencies, tribes and nonprofits. The IRWMP was updated in 2019 and includes information on climate change science as well as a stormwater capture feasibility study.”

Diversified supply supports region’s economy

The report says a diversified water supply supports the region’s high quality of life, its thriving economy and a healthy environment.

“Over the past two decades, diversification efforts have helped the San Diego region significantly reduce its reliance on the Metropolitan Water District from 95% in 1991 to 40% in 2018, and a projected 11% in 2020 and 2% by 2035,” according to the report. “Research has shown that a reliable water supply and the infrastructure necessary to store, move, treat, and deliver are essential to the development of an advanced economy. These factors are indispensable for supporting the diversity of industries within the regional economy. Interruptions of the region’s water supply would have severe impacts on all local industries.”

The San Diego Regional Quality of Life Dashboard was launched in August 2010.  This year, eight University of San Diego researchers contributed to the Dashboard to highlight key trends in the region’s quality of life along with a critical focus on equity and how leaders are adapting in the face of the pandemic.

Olivenhain Employee Dominic Brunozzi is Mechanical Technician of the Year

For the third time in five years, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Pump/Motor Technician Dominic “Bruno” Brunozzi has been named the California Water Environment Association’s “Mechanical Technician of the Year.” Brunozzi was recognized for his dedication to public service and mechanical expertise. He also received the same designation at the local level earlier this year from CWEA’s San Diego Section.

‘A Big Day’: Supervisors OK Draft of North County Multi-Species Conservation Plan

The Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a draft version of a North County region conservation plan. A final draft of the plan is expected for board consideration by 2024 or 2025. Supervisors voted to receive the revised North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan, which according to the Parks and Recreation Department would provide the greatest environmental benefits.

Army Corps Banks on Wetland Data EPA Deemed ‘Unreliable’

When the Trump administration finalized a key Clean Water Act rule last year, it slammed media outlets for citing federal data showing it would erase protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands and 18% of streams.

The National Wetlands Inventory, EPA wrote in a press release at the time, was so unreliable that it “doesn’t map wetlands that are there and maps wetlands that are no longer there.”

How Testing Sewage Could Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

All across the country, counties, colleges and other communities are now testing sewage to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to experts, COVID-19 can show up in wastewater about a week before people even show symptoms.

California Slammed Over ‘Blank Check’ for Delta Tunnel Project

Lobbing another hurdle at California’s $16 billion plan to tunnel underneath the West Coast’s largest estuary, environmentalists on Thursday sued to freeze public funding for the megaproject championed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

California Could Do Better to Ease the Burdens of Wildfires If We Knew How Much They Actually Cost

Amid a record-breaking fire year, a new report out Thursday says the state lacks a grasp on the true costs of wildfires. The report is from the California Council on Science and Technology, an independent nonprofit organization established to offer state leaders objective advice from scientists and research institutions.

There’s Hope, SoCal: La Niña Doesn’t Always Mean Drier Winter Weather

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to forecasting climate patterns when there’s an El Niño or a La Niña pattern in place.

El Niño and La Niña patterns are part of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which monitors sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

When sea-surface temperatures in this region are above average, it’s called El Niño; when they are below average, it’s called La Niña.

We aren’t talking about major changes in water temperatures but typically more minor swings — usually on the order of plus or minus a degree Celsius — 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit — or less.

There are instances when water temperatures have been as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit above average — a very strong El Niño — but it’s not common.

California Supreme Court Refuses to Review Farmer Michael Abatti’s Case Against IID

The tumultuous, years-long legal fight between farmer Michael Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District — two of Southern California’s powerbrokers — is now finished.

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined Abatti’s petition for review, leaving in place an appellate court’s decision that declared IID the rightful owner of a massive allotment of Colorado River water.