You are now in Achievements Features category.

The Padre Dam Municipal Water District has been name a 2020 "Utility of the Future Today" for its water reuse initiatives and its workforce development efforts. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam Named Utility of the Future Today

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s leadership in the development of water reuse as well as its strong workplace culture received national recognition with a 2020 Utility of the Future Today award. The award honors substantial excellence in the operation of water sector services.

“We are honored to be recognized as a groundbreaking agency in the area of water reuse,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam general manager and CEO. “This distinction highlights our ongoing commitment to innovative improvements in service of our customers.”

The Utility of the Future Today program celebrates the achievements of water utilities transforming from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve. It was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Water reuse efforts recognized

Padre Dam Municipal Water District has been recycling water since 1958. The District’s Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility produces around two million gallons per day of recycled water.

Padre Dam is now working on a regional water and wastewater solution in a collaborative partnership between Padre Dam and the County of San Diego, City of El Cajon, and Helix Water District to expand on the history of water reuse through the East County Advanced Water Purification Project.

The project will create a new local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify recycled water and diversify East San Diego County’s water supply, while reducing the region’s dependence on imported water. This new water supply will provide approximately 30% of East County’s water demand, and nearly eliminates the discharge of East County’s treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Padre Dam is currently the Program Administrator for the regional East County Advanced Water Purification Program.

Workplace culture fosters collaboration

Utility worker Sarah Hargis and her workgroup in the Padre Dam wastewater division are essential workers who ensure the wastewater collection system is functioning correctly. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Utility worker Sarah Hargis and her workgroup in the Padre Dam wastewater division are essential workers who ensure the wastewater collection system is functioning correctly. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s strong organizational culture of collaboration, learning, service, and transparency also received recognition. The award cited Padre Dam as an agency that encourages the ongoing learning process and the improvement of its workforce in the planning and decision process. This culture empowers every employee to think creatively, cultivating an organizational culture of innovation.

Padre Dam has enjoyed a successful and progressive workforce partnership with management, labor, and its Board of Directors for decades. Over the last several years, the District invested in the reinvention of its internal workforce development program to meet the changing needs of its modern workforce.

Now called the “Pipeline,” the program embraces a philosophy enabling broad-based participation in the organization’s decision-making processes.

“The Pipeline relies on the primary principle that we can better serve our customers by conducting activities in a collaborative and transparent manner,” said Carlisle. “Long before our employees became essential workers providing vital services during the pandemic, Padre Dam recognized their tremendous value to our organization. This award is for each and every one of our employees who have performed in an exemplary way when they were needed most.”

Gary Croucher-Board Chair-San Diego County Water Authority-Primary

Building a Vision of Regional Strength Through Collaboration

If more than three decades in the fire service taught me anything, it’s that we are always stronger together. This has never been more clear than over the past several months, as the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have worked together to ensure an affordable, safe and reliable water supply, as San Diego County works to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. I truly believe we are stronger when we roll up our sleeves and work together. As we used to say on the fire lines: You go, we go.

We know how to do this because we’ve been doing it for more than 75 years. Working together, the Water Authority and its member agencies have built a water supply that supports our economy and quality of life and protects us from shortages in times of drought and emergencies. Our diversified supply, including major conservation investments in the Imperial Valley, is held up as a statewide and nationwide model.

The Water Authority plays a critical role as the region’s long-term water planning agency and wholesale water provider for 3.3 million residents and our $245 billion economy. We take the long view because we’re responsible for ensuring a safe and reliable water supply for our children and grandchildren. That’s a challenging task in our semi-arid region with few natural water resources, requiring us to look decades ahead to weigh complex options that serve the region’s water ratepayers and taxpayers.

As the newly elected Chair of the Water Authority, my number one priority will be to support critical long-term planning initiatives to ensure that water and facilities are in place to support future generations at an affordable cost. I plan to do this working in collaboration not only with the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies, but also with other regional agencies such as the Imperial Irrigation District and Metropolitan Water District. The Water Authority will also be working with key stakeholders, including environmental, business and other civic and philanthropic groups.

In taking the helm, I also want to recognize the work by General Manager Sandy Kerl, including her leadership through the myriad challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is responsible for day-to-day operations at the Water Authority and for guiding a talented staff of about 250 employees, most of whom are now working and sheltering in place. Sandy and her leadership team worked especially hard to limit rate increases during the pandemic, and will be looking for new ways to protect ratepayers as we head toward 2021.

In closing, I want to assure you that you can count on me in the spirit of, “you go, we go!” The Water Authority stands behind our 24 member agencies and the commitment to providing an affordable, safe and reliable water supply now, and for future generations. At the end of the day, I am confident that San Diego County is, and will remain, stronger together.

Turf rebates-Fall planting-November 2020-

Lawn Rebates for Fall Planting Season

Fall planting season is underway and a great time to take advantage of rebates for replacing your lawn.

“Fall is like a second spring for planting in our region and it’s also a great opportunity for residents to take advantage of some outdoor incentives as they replace grass with climate appropriate plants,” said Joni German, water resources specialist at the San Diego County Water Authority.

Lawn replacement rebates

Turf replacement rebates of $3 per square foot are available for residents in the Water Authority service area, she said. The rebates include $2 per square foot from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, with an additional $1 per square foot from the Water Authority, for up to 5,000 square feet of lawn converted in front or back yard.

German suggests residential customers use the rebate estimator to determine the amount they would receive for removing their turf.

“For example, if San Diego residents are removing 1,000 square feet of turf, their rebate will be $3,000 – $2,000 from MWD and $1,000 from the Water Authority,” said German.

Turf rebates-November 2020-before-fall planting

BEFORE: This homeowner took advantage of rebates to transform the front yard into a colorful landscape with climate-appropriate plants. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority.

Turf rebates-after-November 2020-fall planting

AFTER: This homeowner took advantage of turf rebates to transform the front yard with climate-appropriate plants. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority.

Free landscape makeover help

For landscape makeover assistance, German encourages residents to visit WaterSmartSD.org, the Water Authority’s conservation website, and take advantage of free landscape education through the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program. This program assists homeowners with landscape transformations through a variety of virtual formats including:

  • Three-hour workshops
  • Four-class series
  • Videos on demand

Homeowners can also visit the website to find landscape resources such as free onsite audits, finding a landscape professional, rebates on indoor and outdoor water saving devices, links to programming irrigation controllers, an online plant database and how to install a rain barrel.

Other water-saving practices include turning off irrigation systems when rainstorms are predicted (and leave them off for at least a week after significant rainfall) and installing rain barrels or cisterns to help capture stormwater from roofs and store it for future irrigation use.

“Adjusting irrigation is an easy way to increase water efficiency, since landscapes need less water as the days get shorter and cooler,” said German.

Rebates are also available for weather-based irrigation controllers, soil moisture sensors, rain barrels or cisterns. There are also incentives for commercial customers to increase their water efficiency, with indoor and outdoor rebates. The rebates are processed through SoCal WaterSmart.

Brian Idekler of O'Connell Landscape Maintenance installs a flow control sensor for the San Elijo HOA. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program Benefits San Elijo HOA

A major landscape makeover is helping a San Diego County neighborhood save money during these uncertain economic times. The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program helps qualified landscape contractors as well as large homeowners associations, save money and improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes by retrofitting irrigation devices.

The Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District recently worked with the San Elijo Community Association and O’Connell Landscape Maintenance to install water-efficient devices throughout its entire association property. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The San Diego County Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District recently worked with the San Elijo Community Association and O’Connell Landscape Maintenance to install water-efficient devices throughout its entire association property. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The San Diego County Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District recently worked with the San Elijo Community Association and O’Connell Landscape Maintenance to install water-efficient devices throughout its entire association property, including 2,500 stations and 50 controllers. In addition, rebates allowed O’Connell Landscape to convert spray irrigation and rotor irrigation to drip irrigation, and add flow sensors.

Van Dyke Landscape Architects and its team of certified landscape irrigation auditors assessed the irrigation system in order to make recommendations for the system upgrades. Van Dyke performed initial irrigation audits to determine what types of irrigation upgrades would benefit San Elijo’s terrain and soil types best.

WaterSmart Incentive Program

Recommendations lead to significant improvements

Through its report, the landscape architects recommended areas of opportunity for the San Elijo HOA to save its homeowners money and water long-term. Through the WSCIP, the project earned $24,000 in rebates. The amount of water savings from weather-based controllers can range from 10% to 30% of actual water applied, and another 20% to 40% water savings by changing to a pressure-regulated point source drip system.

O’Connell Landscape Maintenance performed the irrigation work for the San Elijo HOA. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

O’Connell Landscape Maintenance performed the irrigation work for the San Elijo HOA. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“The smart irrigation controllers help send an alarm when there is a break, and the controller will stop the master valve and stop the leak,” said Fabian Alejo, account manager for O’Connell Landscape Maintenance. “The smart controller makes it easier for us to monitor flow, water usage, and leaks.”

Alejo said that the software that comes with the controller allows crews to get alarms in real time.

“Getting the alarms in real time pinpoints exactly the controller and the station number where we have a high water or no flow reading, allowing us to make repairs immediately where water is being wasted,” said Alejo.

Van Dyke landscape architect Nick Concra managed the rebate process.

“The rebate program is incredible,” said Concra. “HOAs using this program can save a lot of money, and a lot more than they think.”

Participants in the WaterSmart Contractor Incentive program call it “priceless.” Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Yale Hooper, principal landscape architect with Van Dyke, said the teamwork among the participants with the Water Authority and Vallecitos Water District makes the program so successful.

“From our perspective as landscape architects, these programs are priceless,” said Hooper. “If I were a contractor or HOA, these are ‘must do’ programs.”

Jon Foreman-Water Quality videos-Vista Irrigation District

Region’s Water Quality Celebrated by Switchfoot Musician Jon Foreman

As part of its campaign to promote the quality of local water supplies, the San County Diego Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have partnered with Encinitas resident and Grammy-award winning musician Jon Foreman of Switchfoot to create a series of videos highlighting how tap water across the region meets or exceeds stringent state and federal standards.

The new videos are part of the Water Authority’s regional Trust the Tap outreach and education platform, which was launched in early 2020 to assure the public about the safety of water during the coronavirus pandemic. Related messages were shared in English and Spanish.

Region’s water quality celebrated

The videos highlight efforts to sample, test and treat water at three locations: Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir, the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant and the Vista Irrigation District’s water quality lab. Foreman talks about sampling and treating with the Water Authority’s Chris Castaing and Javier Chavez, and he talks about testing with VID’s Distribution Supervisor Dean Farris.

The new videos are being shared on a variety of digital platforms, including website ads and social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram) in partnership with various radio stations. They also will be used as “pre-roll” video on streaming services.

Trust the Tap

Drinking water provided by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies is treated by a combination of technologies – including sedimentation, filtration and disinfection – that chemically deactivate and physically remove bacteria, viruses and other contaminants.

The water quality outreach program is funded with a grant from the California Department of Water Resources.

This is the second time Foreman has partnered with the Water Authority. He interviewed Water Authority staff and toured various facilities for a series of videos in 2019 as part of the Brought to You by Water outreach and education program. The eight videos received more than 200,000 views on YouTube and were widely shared on social media.

water recycling-national recycling day

New Water Recycling Videos on National Recycling Day

National Recycling Day on November 15 celebrates and promotes recycling practices to reduce waste and decrease energy demands, ultimately preventing pollution and fighting climate change. This year, the Water Authority partnered with the Southern California Water Coalition to promote water recycling.

National Recycling Day brings new video series

The Water Authority and other SCWC members, worked through the Coalition’s Recycled Water Task Force, along with other water districts and agencies in Southern California to create a new video series. The informative video series was created to educate the public on the use of recycled water in Southern California. The three-part video series shares a simple message – Water: Too Precious to Use Just Once.

The short videos explain the basics of water recycling and its importance as part of a diverse set of solutions employed by water agencies and local governments to stretch limited water resources. The series describes what water recycling is, how it is safe, and how it is used and will be used in the future.

“This new video series is the result of many water agencies and experts working in partnership to promote inclusive educational outreach about the safety and importance of water recycling in our communities,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist for the Water Authority and a member of the Recycled Water Task Force.

Water Too Precious to Use Just Once

Water recycling is the process of taking water that has already been used and treating it to levels safe for further beneficial use. Recycled water is highly regulated, and its use must comply with strict environmental and safety rules and requirements.

Thanks to advancements in water treatment technologies, reycled water is used to water landscapes, for commercial and industrial processes, and to recharge underground aquifers. Recycled water is also tapped for potable reuse through reservoir augmentation.

Water recycling is key to the region’s future

Recycled water is one more tool in the San Diego region’s water portfolio approach to provide a resilient water supply in the face of a changing climate. The  Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have increased the region’s water supply reliability through diversified and innovative technologies like water recycling.

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have promoted the advancement of water recycling and potable reuse in San Diego County by developing educational resources such as potablereuse.sdcwa.org and obtaining outside funding from the Metropolitan Water District’s local resource program, and local, state, and federal grant and loan opportunities. Over the last year the Water Authority Board supported local potable reuse projects such as Pure Water San Diego, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, and Pure Water Oceanside.

The video series was made possible through funding provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the work of members of SCWC’s Water Recycling Task Force video subcommittee, comprised of representatives from the San Diego County Water Authority and other agencies throughout Southern California.

Water Utility Hero of the Week-Otay Water District-primary

Water Utility Hero of the Week, Matthew Carriveau, Otay Water District

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Matthew Carriveau, Otay Water District Customer Pump Mechanic I, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Matthew Carriveau

Job/Agency: Otay Water District Pump Mechanic I

How did you become interested in working in the water industry?

When I was in the U.S. Navy I worked on distilling units turning seawater into drinking water. I really enjoyed operating and maintaining that equipment so I was open to a career that involved similar work.

How has your job changed during the pandemic?

My partner and I drive separate vehicles and we wear masks. Our meetings involve Zoom and take place on the computer.

How are you keeping safe?

I wash my hands a lot more and try to stay away from other people as much as possible.

What are you most looking forward to after the crisis ends?

I look forward to travelling around the country. I have had to cancel 3 or 4 trips that I had planned due to COVID-19 restrictions. My wife and I want to go back to Kauai and that will probably be our first destination when travelling becomes safer.

The Water Utility Hero of the Week highlights essential work performed during the COVID-19 pandemic by employees of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies.

San Diego County Water Authority Member Agency Map

San Marcos coffee farmer Kyle Rosa walks through his 2.5 acre property. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Helps San Marcos Coffee Farmer Brew Success

San Diego County agriculture is well-known for citrus and avocados. Kyle Rosa is counting on coffee joining this list.

Rosa, owner of Bluetail Coffee Grove, started growing coffee on a 2.5-acre farm in San Marcos last year. After 15 years in the finance industry, Rosa and his wife moved from San Francisco to start their new venture. The new farmer quickly turned to the Vallecitos Water District for help establishing smart water use and efficient systems to irrigate his six different specific types of coffee.

The Vallecitos Water District offers a free agricultural irrigation audit to ensure its farming customers are using water aligning best with their crop’s specific needs and water-efficiency standards.

“No one has ever done this in the continental United States,” said Rosa. “To be able to be a pioneer and work on something that has never been done and to learn from mistakes is exciting.”

Agriculture audit gauges efficient water use

Coffee farmer Kyle Rosa (left) and Lance Andersen examine irrigation emitters at his San Marcos farm. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Coffee farmer Kyle Rosa (left) and Lance Andersen examine irrigation emitters at his San Marcos farm. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Lance Andersen, agricultural program manager from Mission Resource Conservation District, performed the audit. MRCD provides free agricultural evaluations to farmers and growers through a partnership with Vallecitos and the San Diego County Water Authority. The agricultural audit examined 2,000 of the Bluetail Coffee Groves trees and 4,000 emitters to see how much water is currently used.

Auditors study how evenly water is flowing across the planting area, so growers can make informed decisions on irrigation scheduling and water management. Post-audit, farmers receive a Google image to assist in the best placement for soil moisture sensor stations to monitor irrigation in real time.

“Lance has been able to give us some pointers as he walked through the farm,” said Rosa. “We have some areas of improvement to add swales to retain water when it rains on our slopes and to prevent soil erosion.”

MRCD also provided information about financial assistance available for the installation of the soil moisture sensors.

Vallecitos Water District assisted Rosa in securing an agricultural rate for his irrigation. He worked with Chris Robbins, Vallecitos Water District supervisor of public information/conservation to start the process.

“He could not have made it any easier for me,” said Rosa.

Bluetail Coffee Grove is an organic farm. Rosa’s farm is undergoing the organic certification process, which takes three years.

Coffee farm plans for eco-tourism

Kyle Rosa and Lance Andersen perform a walk through as part of an agricultural irrigation audit. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Kyle Rosa and Lance Andersen perform a walk through as part of an agricultural irrigation audit. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Rosa has ambitious plans to put San Marcos on the coffee map.

“Coffee has a similarity to wine, where the method of creating a cup of coffee is so diverse and so labor-intensive,” explained Rosa. “When you finally get a cup of coffee, everybody has different tastes. Being able to produce those different tastes for a variety of people while having complex notes within our coffee is really what we are striving for.”

Rosa says he hopes his initial business model will work, allowing him to open his farm to eco-tourism.

“The goal is to expand the coffee to have an eco-tourism set up at the farm, where we can roast and try coffee right here and pull the cherries right off the tree and taste the coffee right here for yourself right in beautiful San Marcos, California.”

Before then, Rosa will open a retail store, Breakers Coffee + Wine in the Del Mar Heights area, expected in Spring 2021.

Pashaun Tillman, a third grade student at La Mesa Dale Elementary School, won Honorable Mention in the K-3 category of the 2020 Helix Water District "Water Is Life" poster contest. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix Water District Student Poster Contest Winners Highlight “Water is Life”

The Helix Water District honored local student artists within its service area for their winning “Water Is Life” posters at a virtual awards ceremony during the District’s board meeting on October 28.

Each year, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California holds a regional poster contest for students in kindergarten through sixth grade to increase student’s awareness about water.

Helix promotes the contest to all elementary schools within its service area. This year, 174 students from 14 schools submitted posters depicting how to use water wisely.

Helix Water District student poster contest winners (photos: Helix Water District)

Grades K – 3 Category Winners

First Place – Gabriel Espino, Lemon Avenue Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

First Place – Gabriel Espino, Lemon Avenue Elementary, Grade 3.

 

Second Place – Marvin Sears III, La Mesa Dale Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

Second Place – Marvin Sears III, La Mesa Dale Elementary, Grade 3.

 

Third Place – Alexander Mollner, St. John of the Cross, Grade 2. Photo: Helix Water District

Third Place – Alexander Mollner, St. John of the Cross, Grade 2.

 

Honorable Mention – Pashaun Tillman, La Mesa Dale Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water DistrictThird Place – Alexander Mollner, St. John of the Cross, Grade 2. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Pashaun Tillman, La Mesa Dale Elementary, Grade 3.

 

Honorable Mention – Lily Griffin, Murdock Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Lily Griffin, Murdock Elementary, Grade 3.

Grades 4 – 6 Category Winners

First Place – Jose Sabedra, Bostonia Language Academy, Grade 4. Photo: Helix Water District

First Place – Jose Sabedra, Bostonia Language Academy, Grade 4.

 

Second Place – Nurah Avellano, St. John of the Cross, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

Second Place – Nurah Avellano, St. John of the Cross, Grade 6.

 

Third Place – Mina Saeed, Lexington Elementary, Grade 4. Photo: Helix Water District

Third Place – Mina Saeed, Lexington Elementary, Grade 4.

 

Honorable Mention – Valeria Ramirez-Quiroz, St. John of the Cross, Grade 5. Photo: Helix Water DIstrict

Honorable Mention – Valeria Ramirez-Quiroz, St. John of the Cross, Grade 5.

 

Honorable Mention – Giselle Villegas Garcia, Lemon Grove Academy, Grade 5. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Giselle Villegas Garcia, Lemon Grove Academy, Grade 5.

The winning posters will be sent to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to compete in the annual 2021 “Water Is Life” calendar competition against entries from other Southern California schools.

Fifth grader Valeria Ramirez-Quiroz of St. John of the Cross was a local 2019 winner as a fourth grader, and her poster was selected for the 2020 Metropolitan Water District “Water is Life”calendar.

Winning posters are also posted for display on the district’s website at www.hwd.com and Facebook page.

Helix Water District provides water treatment and distribution for 277,000 people in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, the community of Spring Valley and areas of Lakeside — east of downtown San Diego. Helix also provides treated water to neighboring Padre Dam, Otay and Lakeside water districts.

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.