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2020 Women in Water - San Diego County Water Authority - Tyrese Powell-Slotterbeck

Women In Water Conference Showcases Career Opportunities

More than 200 people explored career opportunities in the water and wastewater industry at the third annual Women in Water Symposium Thursday at Cuyamaca College.

The conference’s goal this year was to create a community of people with the interest and aptitude to take on what were previously considered non-traditional careers.

Speakers at the conference shared their personal experiences working in the water industry and offered tips for young professionals.

‘Rewarding and humbling’

“Knowing we’re a key contributor to public health through the provision of safe water delivery and recovery is rewarding and humbling,” said keynote speaker Shauna Lorance, director of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department.

Lorance offered advice to people considering making water a career choice.

“The water industry is challenging and always evolving, and has amazing opportunities for growth and career diversity… from laborers and technicians, finance experts and engineers, chemists and community outreach specialists,” said Lorance. “It also has some of the best people around.”

Shauna Lorance - City of San Diego - Women in Water

Shauna Lorance, director of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, delivers the keynote address at the 2020 Women in Water Symposium at Cuyamaca College. Photo: City of San Diego

Diane Stoltz, cross-connection program specialist at the Ramona Municipal Water District, said there are job opportunities that don’t require a degree.

“A few water classes and a state-issued certificate in water or wastewater are the starting blocks to a rewarding career in water,” said Stoltz, “Educating the public and helping them understand their role in protecting the drinking water system, is most rewarding to me.”

Stoltz credited Don Jones, Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies program coordinator, with encouraging her to work in the water industry.

2020 Women in Water - Cuyamaca College - Michael Bruder tweet

Michael Bruder, Chula Vista Elementary School District Instructional Services Coordinator, and co-founder of the Chula Vista Hydro Station, presented information about the Hydro Station at the January 16, 2020 Women in Water Symposium at Cuyamaca College.

Wide range of career choices in the water industry

Jaime Okewole, human resources analyst with the Helix Water District, said jobs in the water industry are more varied than people might imagine.

“I think the biggest misconception about working in water is that the view of opportunities available in the water industry is so narrow,” said Okewole. “When you picture water, one might initially just think construction or water treatment but not realize all of the support positions it takes to run a water agency successfully. We have jobs that span a number of different fields and talents. The commonality is that each person holds customer service as their top priority.”

2020 Women in Water Symposium - Cuyamaca College

More than 200 people attended the 2020 Women in Water Symposium January 16 at Cuyamaca College. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

For the first time, the Women in Water Symposium offered three program tracks: sessions for those interested in starting their career in water; those seeking career advancement; and established professionals interested in forming professional alliances and promoting workforce diversity.

The series of workshops wrapped up with a tour of the Water Conservation Garden.

2020 Women in Water - Otay Water District

The Otay Water District tweets about retirements expected in the water and wastewater industry during the 2020 Women in Water Symposium January 16 at Cuyamaca College.

“This industry is growing and becoming ever more important as new innovations will be needed due to climate change and fast growing cities,” said Kimberlyn Velasquez, public affairs representative with the San Diego County Water Authority. “If you ever find yourself looking to try something new down the line, the water industry has many sectors and different types of positions that you can move into throughout your career.”

Aging workforce – ‘silver tsunami’ – creates job opportunities

The Water Authority was among the water industry employers offering career information at the conference.

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies created a regional workforce development task force to address the ‘silver tsunami’ of employees reaching retirement age.

“There are approximately 4,500 water and wastewater positions in the San Diego region and more than 1,400 of those workers are expected to reach retirement age by 2024,” said Gretchen Spaniol, acting special projects manager with the Water Authority. “Those retirements provide an opportunity to diversify the water industry workforce.”

Work and Training Opportunities Abound in Local Water and Wastewater Industry

The San Diego region’s water and wastewater agencies have developed several pathways to jobs in the water and wastewater industry. For more information go to: https://bit.ly/3adxBzM

 

Award-Winning Student Artwork Inspires 2020 Water Conservation Calendar

The City of San Diego’s colorful 2020 Water Conservation Calendar features winning artwork from 19 students throughout San Diego.

This is the 20th year the calendar has been produced by the City’s Public Utilities Department. The theme was water conservation.

“The children’s artwork in these calendars is fantastic, and helps present the importance of reducing water use,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the Public Utilities Department. “I encourage San Diegans to pick up a calendar and learn about water conservation all year.”

More than 100 San Diego children entered the 2020 Water Conservation Calendar Kids’ Poster Contest.

Second-grade student Isabella Chen of Solana Ranch Elementary School in Carmel Valley is a two-time winner. She placed second in 2019 as a first-grader, and is the first place winner for her grade this year.

There were five winners from Solana Ranch Elementary, the most for any single school.

The complete list of winning student artists:

First Place winner, First Grade: Sophia Shuwen Hu, Monterey Ridge Elementary, 4S Ranch 2020 Water Conservation Calendar

First Place winner, First Grade: Sophia Shuwen Hu, Monterey Ridge Elementary, 4S Ranch

First Grade  

  • First Place: Sophia Shuwen Hu, Monterey Ridge Elementary, 4S Ranch
  • Second Place: Victoria Wang, Canyon View Elementary, Rancho Bernardo
  • Third Place: Isabella Yang, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley
First Place, Second Grade: Isabella Chen, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley 2020 Water Conservation Calendar

First Place winner, Second Grade: Isabella Chen, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley

Second Grade         

  • First Place: Isabella Chen, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Second Place: Amber Liu, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Third Place: Kenzie Shaaban, Jerabek Elementary, Scripps Ranch
First Place, Third Grade: Derick Chi, Sage Canyon Elementary, Carmel Valley 2020 Water Conservation Calendar

First Place winner, Third Grade: Derick Chi, Sage Canyon Elementary, Carmel Valley

Third Grade 

  • First Place: Derick Chi, Sage Canyon Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Second Place: Claire Wang, Stone Ranch Elementary, 4S Ranch
  • Third Place: Rosabel Wang, Ocean Air Elementary, Carmel Valley
First Place winner, Fourth Grade: Veronica Yu, Del Mar Pines Elementary, Carmel Valley 2020 Water Conservation Calendar

First Place winner, Fourth Grade: Veronica Yu, Del Mar Pines Elementary, Carmel Valley

Fourth Grade          

  • First Place: Veronica Yu, Del Mar Pines Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Second Place: Katherine Chen, Monterey Ridge Elementary, 4S Ranch
  • Third Place: Alice Li, Monterey Ridge Elementary, 4S Ranch
First Place winner, Fifth Grade: Joshua Lee, Marie Curie Elementary, University City

First Place winner, Fifth Grade: Joshua Lee, Marie Curie Elementary, University City

Fifth Grade  

  • First Place: Joshua Lee, Marie Curie Elementary, University City
  • Second Place: Lily Saganich, Solana Pacific Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Third Place: Teodora Matic, Solana Pacific Elementary, Carmel Valley
First Place winner, Sixth Grade: Sarah Huang, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley

First Place winner, Sixth Grade: Sarah Huang, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley

Sixth Grade 

  • First Place: Sierra Huang, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Second Place: Patrick Jang, Solana Ranch Elementary, Carmel Valley
  • Third Place: Sarah Lehman, Muirlands Middle, La Jolla

Recycled Water Winner: Mia Banerjee, John Spreckels Elementary, University City (Third Grade)

Recycled Water Winner    

  • Mia Banerjee, John Spreckels Elementary, University City (Third Grade)

Copies of the 2020 Kids’ Poster Contest Calendar are available for free at all City of San Diego Public Library branches and Recreation Centers. For water conservation tips, rebates and other information, go to www.wastenowater.org.

Rocks and small boulders are both aesthetically pleasing and useful in your landscape. Photo: Otay Water District

Contour Your Landscape

When planning your landscape, look first at the terrain you’re working with. You can use the contours of your existing land – depressions and slopes – for guidance when planning your landscape grading. If your yard is flat, you’ll need to move soil and features around to create more rain-holding contour areas.

A soil percolation test can be very helpful in preparing your soil. You want to make it as much of a water-retaining sponge as possible before getting to work on rainwater capture plans.

NOTE: If you have existing hillsides, it’s best to get professional advice before grading or other significant changes. Before any digging, call Dig Alert 8-1-1 or visit digalert.org to be sure you won’t hit any underground utility lines.

Move water with gravity

Basins and swales are shallow depressions or channels no more than 24 inches deep on gently sloped or nearly flat landscapes. Basins and swales move water over short distances. With these contours, gravity will move water around to where you want it.

Small, shallow depressions work best in clay soil areas, while sandy soils may accommodate deeper depressions up to two feet. Channels can be planted or lined with rocks and small boulders to resemble natural creek beds.

Use rainwater to your advantage

By planning your landscape so that you don’t have low spots with no plants, you prevent wasting rainwater through runoff. You can also avoid fungus and rot from standing water. Plants in and around the depressions capture and sink small volumes of surface water so that all the rainwater you capture can be used.

Berms are mounds of raised soil, usually planted, that can border basins and swales or be used alone. They help contain and move water around, increasing the holding capacity of basins and swales.

Boulders can add points of interest and slow down water runoff in your landscaping. Boulders also are useful to retain small berms or the edges of swales.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Otay Water District Reclamation Plant Operator Tyrese Powell is among the women pursuing career opportunities in the water and wastewater industry. Photo: Water Authority

Workforce Diversity Focus of ‘Women in Water’ Conference

Career opportunities for women in the water and wastewater industry at every level are the focus of the third annual Women in Water Symposium January 16 at Cuyamaca College.

Vanessa Murrell, grant manager for the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College, said the conference’s goal in its third year is to create a community of people with the interest and aptitude to take on what were previously considered non-traditional careers.

“It’s a matter of recruiting great talent that transcends gender and ethnicity,” said Murrell. “It’s making sure the water workforce represents the community it serves.”

The Women in Water Syposium's goal in its third year is to create a community of people with the interest and aptitude to take on what were previously considered non-traditional careers. Photo: Cuyamaca College

The Women in Water Symposium’s goal is to create a community of people with the interest and aptitude to take on what were previously considered non-traditional careers. Photo: Cuyamaca College

For the first time, the Women in Water Symposium will have three tracks: sessions for those interested in starting their career in water; those seeking career advancement; and established professionals interested in forming professional alliances and promoting workforce diversity.

“We all have a vested interest in water,” said Murrell. “We cannot function without it. It’s vital for us to take part in maintaining this crucial resource.”

“It is good for anyone to attend, regardless of gender,” she said. “There is a lot you can learn from being in the room with the individuals and taking it all in. The energy has been amazing at the last conferences. This conference promotes the best of the industry.”

Passing the baton to the next generation of water workforce professionals

Water and wastewater industry employers including the Water Authority will participate in the Women in Water Symposium at Cuyamaca College on January 16. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Water and wastewater industry employers including the San Diego County Water Authority will participate in the Women in Water Symposium at Cuyamaca College on January 16. Photo: Cuyamaca College

The San Diego County Water Authority will be among the water industry employers offering career information at the conference.

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies created a regional workforce development task force to address the ‘Silver Tsunami’ of employees reaching retirement age.

“There are approximately 4,500 water and wastewater positions in the San Diego region and more than 1,400 of those workers are expected to reach retirement age by 2024,” said Gretchen Spaniol, acting special projects manager with the San Diego County Water Authority. “Those retirements provide an opportunity to diversify the water industry workforce, and the Women in Water conference is a great starting place to explore careers in water.”

The series of workshops between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. wraps up with a tour of the Water Conversation Garden.

Lunch, refreshments, and parking are included in the $35 registration fee. Registration is free for students. For more information about the symposium and Cuyamaca College’s Center for Water Studies, go to centerforwaterstudies.org.

Calendar poster contest winner Maya Santana, a fifth grader from Wolf Canyon Elementary School in the Otay Water District, displays her winning artwork. Photo: Otay Water District Water Is Life Calendar

Student Artists Featured in 2020 ‘Water Is Life’ Calendar

Five talented San Diego County student artists from four elementary schools were among 36 Southern California students whose artwork will appear in the 2020 “Water Is Life” calendar.

The five artists represent regional water agencies including Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam MWD, and Sweetwater Authority.

Produced by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, The “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar showcases student artwork with imaginative messages of water conservation and water resource stewardship. Students in grades K-6 submit artwork through participating member agencies after winning their local competition.

The five regional winners, their families, and member agency representatives were invited to attend an art exhibit and recognition luncheon at MWD’s Los Angeles office in December.

Winning students from the San Diego region include:

Maya Santana's winning artwork appears in August 2020. Photo: MWD
Maya Santana’s winning artwork appears in August. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Maya Santana, a fifth grader from Wolf Canyon Elementary School, which is in the Otay Water District’s service area. Her artwork  “Save Don’t Waste” appears in August 2020.
Artwork by Rencel Chiara Charifa is featured in October 2020.  Photo: MWD
Artwork by Rencel Chiara Charifa is featured in October. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Rencel Chiara Charifa, a fifth grader from Central Elementary School, which is served by the Sweetwater Authority. Her poster “Water Angel” appears in October. 
Valeria Ramirez has her artwork included in November 2020. Photo: MWD
Valeria Ramirez has her artwork included in November. Photo: Metropoltian Water District of Southern California

Valeria Ramirez, a fourth grader from St. John of the Cross Catholic School, within the Helix Water District service area. Her artwork “Take Care of Water, You’ll Have a Better Future” appears in November.

Violet Jacobson and Zoe Miles share the spotlight in December 2020. Photo: MWD
Violet Jacobson and Zoe Miles share the spotlight in December. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Violet Jacobson, is in the third grade at Hill Creek Elementary School, which is served by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Her poster, “Water Is Life: Everything Needs Water” appears in December.

Zoe Miles, a sixth grader at Flying Hills Elementary School, which is served by the Helix Water District. Her entry, “Less Use = More  Water,” also appears in December.  

See the full calendar here.

Calendar contest provides educational opportunity

Original winning artwork was displayed as part of a recognition event on December 11. Photo: Otay Water District
Original winning artwork was displayed as part of a recognition event on December 11. Photo: Otay Water District

The “Water is Life” poster contest is one of many educational opportunities offered to students to demonstrate how water is a precious and essential resource. By creating water-related art, students enhance their understanding of the importance of water.

Chosen among hundreds of entries, the final selection of 36 art pieces is featured in the annual “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar with an annual distribution of 13,000 recipients.

Top 3 WNN stories of 2019 - Water News Network

Water News Network Top 3 Stories of 2019

The Water News Network’s top three stories of 2019 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and successful efforts to diversify water supply sources.

Conservation

Colorful art created by elementary school students communicated the importance of saving water. This was the most viewed story of 2019.  

January 2019
(L to R) 2019 poster contest winners Madeleine Inawen, Claire Zhang, Kate Hu, Alanis Huang, and Weiyi Xu with their winning artwork. Photo: City of San Diego

Creative Kids Educate Region About Water Conservation

January 13, 2019

Eighteen talented San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach elementary school students used their artistic skills to communicate the importance of water conservation in the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department 18th annual Kids Poster Contest. Winning entries in the contest are featured in the 2019 Water Conservation Calendar, which debuts this month.

“The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is proud to sponsor the yearly Kids Poster Contest,” said Brian Hojnacki, a supervising management analyst for city utilities. “It allows us to involve first to sixth graders through art while learning and thinking about water conservation in our region. It’s a win-win for us all.”

The theme “How Am I A Water Conservation Hero?” asked students to imagine themselves saving water from being wasted. They could draw, paint, color, cut and paste original artwork depicting one important message about water conservation.

1st Place – Madeleine Irawan, Black Mountain Middle School

 

Sustainability

People living in the San Diego region continue to take advantage of rebate opportunities that encourage sustainability. A program that provided incentives to remove grass and replace it with sustainable landscaping proved popular in the spring. The Water News Network story about the rebates was also popular and the second-most read story of 2019.

Top 3 stories of 2019 - WNN
There are new enhanced rebates for removing turf and replacing it with sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority

 

Cash Rebates Increase for Grass Removal in San Diego Region

April 8, 2019

Removing grass can generate rebates of at least $2 per square foot for San Diego residents under new enhanced incentives that started this month.

As of April 1, the Metropolitan Water District is offering $2 per square foot for every square foot of grass removed from yards and replaced with sustainable landscaping.

“San Diego County homeowners and businesses know that sustainable landscapes are key to water reliability in our region,” said Joni German, who manages the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program. “With the help of local landscape architects and designers, our WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program gives them the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. WaterSmart landscapes are an upgrade, not a compromise.”

Infrastructure

The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $245 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility.

California officials toured some of that infrastructure in July as they worked to prepare a water resilience portfolio for the state. Our reporting on the July 18 water portfolio tour was the third most read story of 2019 on the Water News Network.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

During the water portfolio tour, state officials got a first-hand look at infrastructure, including the San Vicente Reservoir, Olivenhain Reservoir, and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego’s Water Portfolio Approach ‘Model for California’

July 18, 2019

State officials Thursday toured San Diego County water infrastructure to get a first-hand look at the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification.

California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Gibson, State Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and State Water Resources Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel were here to assess the region’s water projects as part of their new role in developing a water portfolio strategy for the state.

“San Diego has been a leader in the water portfolio approach,” said Wade Crowfoot. “We have to make the investments to build regional water resilience as part of the Governor’s order to develop a portfolio to manage water in California.”

Jim Madaffer tweet on water portfolio tour July 2019
San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer tweeted during the water portfolio tour.

Plants on the Nifty 50 list have been selected because they are attractive, available in retail nurseries, non-invasive and thrive in San Diego County. Photo: Capri23auto/Pixabay

The Nifty 50: Best Plants for WaterSmart Landscapes

Are you looking for new plants or trees to upgrade your WaterSmart landscape? Check out the Nifty 50. These 50 plants and trees thrive in San Diego County’s arid climate, and the rainy fall and winter are a perfect time to introduce them into your landscape. They are attractive, non-invasive, easy to maintain and drought-tolerant.

Timing is important

During the first 12 months in your garden, called the establishment period, new plants need extra water. Before bringing them home, make sure to check your irrigation system and water pressure.

A good resource for estimating the right amount of water for your landscape is the City of San Diego’s Landscape Watering Calculator.

The calculator is based on historical weather data for your zip code and can tell you more about water requirements for the plants, soil and sprinkler type in each of your irrigation zones. It will work for any location in San Diego County.

Map out your landscape

Once you have an efficient irrigation system set up, choose your new plants. Trees are a great way to line your property and block out the sun, noise and wind. They can help you collect rainwater and provide a beautiful backdrop for other plants.

Certain types of shrubs pair well aesthetically and attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. California Lilac, Manzanita, and Toyon are good examples of shrubs that will bring pollinators and other wildlife to your garden.

To add some texture and dimension to your landscape, look for colorful groundcovers like Trailing Lantana or Stonecrop.

Authentic means sustainable

Plants native to the region have adapted over thousands of years, and native animal species depend on them as well. There are thousands of ground covers, grasses, succulents, perennials, shrubs, vines and trees to choose from in addition to the Nifty 50. For more information, go to WaterSmartSD.org.

WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program

New Rebates For WaterSmart Irrigation Devices in San Diego County

A new rebate program for irrigation devices is available to qualified landscape contractors in San Diego County.

The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program, or WSCIP, is designed to help commercial, public and agricultural property owners improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes, through rebates for irrigation hardware upgrades. School districts, universities, and other organizations are also eligible.

WaterSmart offers water efficiency programs, services and incentives for residents, businesses and farmers in San Diego County.

Rebates for innovative irrigation devices

Qualifying project sites must include at least one acre of irrigated landscape. The rebates are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The incentive program was designed to be business-friendly and is part of the Water Authority’s focus on long-term water-use efficiency,” said Efren Lopez, a water resources specialist with the Water Authority, who manages the new program and the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper Program.

The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program is a large landscape and technology-focused program, which targets qualified landscape contractors and self-managed sites. The Water Authority’s mission is to improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes by retrofitting irrigation devices.

The program offers a comprehensive package of innovative irrigation devices. Bundling these four items leads to the greatest water efficiency, but at least two items must be installed to participate in the rebate program.

Rebates are offered for the following devices:

  • Smart Irrigation Controllers           $35 per station
  • High Efficiency Sprinkler Nozzles  $6 per nozzle
  • Flow Sensors                                    $60 per sensor
  • Drip Irrigation                                   $0.20 per square foot

The program is funded through Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Member Agency Administered Program. To enroll, or for more information, go to https://www.sdwatersmartcip.com/ or call (888) 521-9763.

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 WaterSmartSD.org.

Valley Center MWD Cool Valley Reservoir

Valley Center Reservoir Project ‘Exceptional’

The Valley Center Municipal Water District has been advised by the California State Water Resources Control Board that its Cool Valley Reservoir Cover Replacement Project was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency’s new AQUARIUS Program as an “Exceptional Project,” among only 10 identified as such nationwide.

Each year, EPA’s Aquarius Program recognizes one Drinking Water State Revolving Fund project from each of its 10 regions nationwide for “exceptional focus on sustainability, protection of public health” while demonstrating a high level of innovation.

The $4.2 million Cool Valley Reservoir Cover Project was nominated by the SWRCB, EPA’s state-level partner in the DWSRF Program in California.

Cool Valley Reservoir Project ‘Innovative’

Constructed in 1975 and with the original floating flexible reinforced “Hypalon” material installed in 1992, Cool Valley is Valley Center’s largest drinking water reservoir with a capacity of 57 million gallons, providing about 40% of the District’s total covered drinking water storage capacity. By 2015, the floating cover had reached its full life expectancy and started to experience failures, possibly placing the quality of the water in the reservoir at risk. 

At that point the decision was made to take the reservoir out of service and seek DWSRF financing to cover the estimated $4.2 million project cost, rather than make additional repairs to the existing liner. 

With interim adjustments to system operations and cooperation from Valley Center’s wholesale supplier, the San Diego County Water Authority, the system operated reliably with Cool Valley off-line.

‘Exceptional Project’ reduces bacteria and energy use

District engineering staff and consultants were successful in securing the 20-year loan at 1.6% interest. With the loan secured, the project was approved by the Valley Center Board in the FY 2015/2016 Budget.  The project took 12 months to complete and was back on line by mid-2017. The effort was overseen by Wally Grabbe, District Engineer and managed by Dennis Williams (retired), Deputy District Engineer. 

Projects nominated by the states must meet three major criteria, including providing Safe Drinking Water Compliance, Public Health Benefit and having Financial Integrity.  Additionally, each project must demonstrate leadership in dealing with emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure or innovative financing, affordability, water loss control, efficient water and/or energy use, creative approach to project planning and implementation, and/or creating water system partnerships.

In making the award, the SWRCB and EPA noted that the Valley Center Cool Valley Project will not only protect water quality from atmospheric vectors, but the new cover-liner will “prevent leakage from the reservoir, reduce bacteria by creating a barrier between the drinking water and the concrete liner… and reduce chemical and energy use.

During the same period of time, the Valley District designed and installed a 95kW Photovoltaic Solar Array and upgraded the Cool Valley Pump Station, all located on the Cool Valley Reservoir site.