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2nd Place: Huynh Hoang, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 12 – “Drip Drip.” Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority Recognizes Student Photography Showcasing Water

Twelve talented photographers from South Bay schools won honors for their work creatively showcasing the importance and beauty of water in the Sweetwater Authority annual High School Photo Contest.

The winners were selected from 65 students who submitted more than 150 entries in two categories: black and white and color photography.

In each photo, water plays a central part in favorite activities and quality of life.

“The Board is proud to support this annual contest, which helps draw attention to water as an essential and precious resource,” said Sweetwater Authority Board Chair Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. “We are continually amazed by the talent and photography skills of students in our service area.”

Color Photography

1st Place: Ashley Monroy, Hilltop High School, Grade 12 – “Summer Day.” Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photography Showcasing Water

1st Place: Ashley Monroy, Hilltop High School, Grade 12 – “Summer Day.” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Ashley Monroy, Hilltop High School, Grade 12 – “Summer Day”

First place winner Ashley Monroy, a senior at Hilltop High School, described her winning entry “Summer Day.”

“I wanted to show how two best friends are playing with water on a sunny summer day,” said Monroy. “These two girls are playing with water balloons. This is something you do for fun with your friends and family.”

2nd Place: Huynh Hoang, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 12 – “Drip Drip.” Photo: Sweetwater Authority

2nd Place: Huynh Hoang, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 12 – “Drip Drip.” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Huynh Hoang, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 12 – “Drip Drip”

Bonita Vista High School senior Huynh Hoang portrayed the value of groundwater in “Drip Drip.”

“The repercussions of over-using fresh water are vast: future generations will struggle for water supply, the cost of drilling and pumping water will rise,” said Hoang. “Being a responsible water user is to look at daily habits and use of water and make changes that will minimize or eliminate water waste.”

3rd Place: Guadalupe Estrada, Chula Vista High School, Grade 11 – “Kissing Reflection.' Photo: Sweetwater Authority

3rd Place: Guadalupe Estrada, Chula Vista High School, Grade 11 – “Kissing Reflection.” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Guadalupe Estrada, Chula Vista High School, Grade 11 – “Kissing Reflection”

Guadalupe Estrada, a junior at Chula Vista High School, called his photo “Kissing Reflection,” writing, “A bird is digging through the water, finding and eating any insects swimming around, creating a perfect mirrored reflection of it at the same time. This goes to show how not only is this resource valuable, but is also a gateway to hidden beauty and serenity.”

Black & White Photography

1st Place: Skyler Yowakim, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 9 – “Making A Wave.' Photo: Sweetwater Authority

1st Place: Skyler Yowakim, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 9 – “Making A Wave.” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Skyler Yowakim, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 9 – “Making A Wave”

In her entry essay, Freshman Skylar Yowakim of Bonita Vista High School described her winning photo:  “Drainpipes allow wastewater to be disposed of from buildings. The wastewater is then conserved by flowing through our community’s sterilized sewer system and then transferred to a wastewater treatment facility. Wastewater treatment facilities are beneficial because they protect people and our ecosystem from the toxic elements that are found in wastewater.”

2nd place: Andres Cornejo, Chula Vista High School, Grade 11 – “Eleutheromaniac.” Photo: Sweetwater Authority

2nd place: Andres Cornejo, Chula Vista High School, Grade 11 – “Eleutheromaniac.” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Andres Cornejo, Chula Vista High School, Grade 11 – “Eleutheromaniac”

Second Place winner Andres Cornejo, a junior at Chula Vista High School, came up with the unique title “Eleutheromaniac” for his photo, providing this definition: “Eleutheromaniac: one who seeks freedom beyond reach. He notices that the water has overcome this freedom and can course freely anywhere with no halt or hesitation. A constant freedom that fills the subject with jealousy at fault. A constant search that humans try to achieve this natural state of water.”

3rd Place:Joaquin Angulo, Hilltop High School, Grade 12 ­­– “Showers." Photo: Sweetwater Authority

3rd Place: Joaquin Angulo, Hilltop High School, Grade 12 ­­– “Showers.” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Joaquin Angulo, Hilltop High School, Grade 12 ­­– “Showers”

Joaquin Angulo, a senior at Hilltop High School, won third place for his photo “Showers,” which described his experience. “Having access to clean, fresh water is something that people often take for granted. I am thankful that I have access to water because it is essential for one’s wellbeing.”

Honorable Mentions awarded to eight additional photos for their outstanding quality

Honorable Mention winners, Color Category: (L) Carlee Gregg, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Refreshing Life,” (R) Nathan Isaac C. Colmenares, 12th Grade, Chula Vista High School, “Simple Joy.” Photos: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Color Category: Carlee Gregg, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Refreshing Life;” Skyler Yowakim, 9th Grade, Bonita Vista High School, “Stepping Into The Future;” Sebastian Pimentel Lugo, 9th Grade, Sweetwater High School “Solin Bath;” Nathan Isaac C. Colmenares, 12th Grade, Chula Vista High School, “Simple Joy.”

Honorable Mention winners in the Color Category: (L) Skyler Yowakim, 9th Grade, Bonita Vista High School, “Stepping Into The Future;” (R) Sebastian Pimentel Lugo, 9th Grade, Sweetwater High School “Solin Bath.” Photos: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Black and White Category: Joaquin Angulo, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Leaf Droplets;” Esteban Robledo, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Handwashing Against The Virus;” Janet Mendoza, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Backyard Beauty;” Noah Kitcher, 10th Grade, Bonita Vista High School, “Misty.”

Honorable Mentions, Black and White Category: (L) Joaquin Angulo, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Leaf Droplets;” (R) Noah Kitcher, 10th Grade, Bonita Vista High School, “Misty.” Photos: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Judging was done through a blind selection process by Sweetwater Authority staff members and Bonita Museum & Cultural Center Director Wendy Wilson. First-place winners in each category were awarded $400; second place, $300; third place, $200; and $50 for Honorable Mention.

Honorable Mention, Black and White category: (L) Esteban Robledo, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Handwashing Against The Virus;” (R) Janet Mendoza, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Backyard Beauty.” Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Honorable Mention, Black and White category: (L) Esteban Robledo, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Handwashing Against The Virus;” (R) Janet Mendoza, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School, “Backyard Beauty.” Photos: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

The winning photos can be viewed in a slideshow on the Sweetwater Authority website. A special exhibit at the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center will showcase the winning photographs through June 30.

(Editor’s note: The Sweetwater Authority is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

San Marcos residents joined officials including San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones, and San Marcos City Councilmember Ed Musgrove; City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Commissioners Danyte Mockus-Valenzuela and Judy Prestininzi; and VWD board members Tiffany Boyd-Hodgson, Ph.D, Jim Pennock, and Mike Sannella at Woodland Park to fill new reusable bottles with fresh drinking water at the new fill station. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Wags and Water Festival

Wags and Water Festival Brings Canines and Water Conservation Together

Adoptable dogs and even a few cats found new homes and called attention to new water conservation measures at five San Marcos parks at the first “Wags and Water Festival.” The event was organized by the Vallecitos Water District and the City of San Marcos.

San Marcos and VWD partnered on the new project to encourage water conservation. Five hydration stations have been installed in San Marcos parks to facilitate easy refilling of reusable bottles during outdoor activities instead of using purchased bottled water. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Wags and Water Festival

San Marcos and the Vallectios Water District partnered on the new project to encourage water conservation. Five hydration stations have been installed in San Marcos parks to facilitate easy refilling of reusable bottles during outdoor activities instead of using purchased bottled water. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Residents joined officials, including San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones and San Marcos City Councilmember Ed Musgrove; City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Commissioners Danyte Mockus-Valenzuela and Judy Prestininzi; and Vallectios board members Tiffany Boyd-Hodgson, Ph.D., Jim Pennock, and Mike Sannella, at Woodland Park to fill new reusable bottles with fresh drinking water at the new fill station.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s K9 team presented a tracking demonstration of their working dogs. Camp Run-A-Mutt San Marcos assisted at the event.

Seven dogs find new homes

San Diego County dog adoption agencies participating at the event placed seven dogs in new homes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

San Diego County dog adoption agencies participating at the event placed seven dogs in new homes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

San Diego County dog adoption agencies participating at the event with adoptable dogs and adoption information included A New Life Rescue, Paws 4 Thought Animal Rescue, and Tragic to Magic and helped call attention to the project. Seven dogs found their forever homes with families who adopted them at the event.

San Marcos and Vallecitos partnered on the new project to encourage water conservation. Five hydration stations have been installed in San Marcos parks to facilitate easy refilling of reusable bottles during outdoor activities instead of using purchased bottled water. Both the City of San Marcos and the Vallecitos Water District are committed to reducing single-use plastics. Each station features a quick-fill mechanism to encourage reusable water bottle use alongside a regular water fountain spout.

Allie Uribe with her new puppy, Patsy. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Allie Urabe with her new puppy, Patsy. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Grant funding benefits the community

The hydration station project received $25,000 in grant funding from the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to cover the purchase and installation of the stations, and educational signage informing the public about the benefits of tap water over bottled water. The signage also offers several additional steps people can take to conserve water.

In addition to Woodland Park, fill stations are available at Mission Sports Field Park, Bradley Park, Connors Park, Buelow Park, and Woodland Park.

Both the City of San Marcos and the Vallecitos Water District are committed to reducing single-use plastics. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Both the City of San Marcos and the Vallecitos Water District are committed to reducing single-use plastics. San Diego County Water Authority staffers Emily Rose (L) and Vadim Livshits (R). Photo: Vallecitos Water District

According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle holding 16 ounces of drinking water. All plastic drinking bottles are made from new plastic material, so there is no recovery due to recycling.

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Making a plan of your existing landscape and evaluating site elements is key to helping you make design decisions as you start the design process. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority Six Steps to WaterSmart

Six Steps to WaterSmart Landscape Success

Every WaterSmart landscape added by a homeowner becomes a key part of the San Diego region’s water efficiency goals. By converting a turf-focused yard to a WaterSmart landscape, you have the potential to beautify your property, save money, and reduce maintenance. You also play a critical role in protecting and improving the health of our natural environment by cultivating native plants, retaining and minimizing stormwater runoff, and conserving water.

Why is turf the target? Our video explains the multiple reasons why

As outlined in the video, there are six distinct steps to successfully create a WaterSmart landscape.

Step 1. Identify your landscape target. What types of plants do you want to use? Which irrigation types suit those plants? These answers will help guide you through the design process.

Step 2. Create a basic plot plan. Making a plan of your existing landscape will help you visualize and reimagine your future landscape.

Step 3. Evaluate your site. Evaluate site elements such as soil, drainage, sun exposure, and views to identify opportunities and constraints. This knowledge is key to helping you make design decisions as you start the design process. It’s essential at this stage to pay special attention to methods of retaining stormwater.

Even if you don’t plan to install the whole project at one time, you should create a complete master plan for your landscape so the outcome is unified, including a WaterSmart planting and irrigation design. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority Six Steps to WaterSmart

Even if you don’t plan to install the whole project at once, you should create a complete master plan for your landscape, so the outcome is unified, including a WaterSmart planting and irrigation design. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Step 4. Design your WaterSmart landscape.  Even if you don’t plan to install the whole project at one time, you should create a complete master plan for your landscape, so the outcome is unified, including a WaterSmart planting and irrigation design. Verify your planned water use before starting construction and adjust if it doesn’t meet your original landscape target.

Step 5. Implement your plan. As you execute your plan step by step, take your time. Hire a professional if needed. Getting it done right is far preferable to rushing or tackling tasks too difficult or complex for you to complete properly.

Step 6. Care for your WaterSmart landscape. Learn the best practices for maintaining your landscape. Consider creating a maintenance schedule to help you keep on track. You can even use these maintenance techniques to help you save money in existing landscape areas that have not been upgraded.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart Living is a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

WaterSmart landscapes are attractive and in balance with the regional environment and climate - and beautiful, too. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority step-by-step process

A Step-by-Step Process to a WaterSmart Landscape 

Using water efficiently is a way of life and an important responsibility in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate. WaterSmart landscaping rethinks the way limited water resources can be used by making smart choices to reduce outdoor water use. But saving water is just one benefit of low-water-use landscaping.

WaterSmart landscapes are attractive and in balance with the regional environment and climate. They incorporate elements of sustainable landscaping such as healthy, living soils, climate-appropriate plants, and high-efficiency irrigation. They generate many environmental and community benefits.

Beautify Your Property: A well-designed WaterSmart landscape enhances the appearance and value of your property.

Protect Natural Resources and the Environment: WaterSmart landscapes generate many environmental and community benefits including lowering water use, reducing green waste, and preventing stormwater runoff and pollution.

Reduce Costs: WaterSmart landscaping uses less water than traditional landscaping, which can save you money on your water bill.

Reduce Maintenance: Well-designed irrigation systems and plants appropriate to San Diego County’s climate often require less-frequent care and maintenance.

Learn more about the reasons WaterSmart landscaping is vital in San Diego County.

Adding outdoor living space adds value

Consider the value of having a garden to live in as well as look at by creating outdoor rooms for your favorite activities. Adding outdoor living space makes even the smallest home feel open.

Homeowners can explore many options for showstopping front yards. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Homeowners can explore many options for show-stopping front yards. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The front yard is making a comeback across the country in developments focused on sustainable living. Most San Diego County homes have a garage out front, but we can redesign our front yards to be the new American front porch, where we connect with neighbors and create the kind of street we always wanted to live on.

Restoring regional authenticity is a significant design trend. Authentic also means sustainable. Plants native to Mediterranean climate zones thrive and preserve biodiversity while reducing costly and time-consuming maintenance.

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program is an award-winning educational program developed in 2012 by the San Diego County Water Authority, its member agencies, and local community college experts. The program’s step-by-step process empowers homeowners with the skills and knowledge necessary to convert a turf area into a WaterSmart landscape.

Gardening is an activity, like painting, cooking or golf, where you never stop learning. Take a trial-and-error approach and learn what works for you.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart Living is a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

Student-science-fair-project

San Diego County Students Discover Practical Water Solutions

On April 28, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors showcased this year’s group of award winners from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. The Water Authority has judged water-related projects in the fair for several decades as part of an effort to support STEM education in the region and inspire young people to pursue careers in the water industry.

Each year, the fair showcases hundreds of innovative projects created by middle and school students. The water-related projects often aim to solve a variety of global water issues.

High school students find practical solutions for global water issues

In the senior division, Issa Alwazir from Bright Horizon Academy in San Diego designed and built a water filter that can produce drinkable water using natural resources that are found in developing nations.

Fahad Majidi, also from Bright Horizon Academy, won second place in the senior division with a system for filtering greywater for residential use. Fahad tested his device on water in his home and is building a larger scale version for next year.

William Maywood from Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista earned third place in the senior division. William tested Otay Lakes Reservoir’s water quality to determine its probability for eutrophication, which is when the richness of the nutrients in a body of water reaches increased or excessive levels.

Middle school students understand importance of clean, reliable water

In the junior division, Alana Bridges from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Diego won first place by testing several methods of water purification, including solar disinfection, bleach and a natural filter, to determine which produced the purest water.

In second place, Paddy Ward from St. Didacus Parish School in San Diego used PVC pipes to design and build a drip irrigation system that could scale for agricultural use.

Cassidy Chan and Jessica Talavera from St. Michael’s School in Poway teamed up to win third place in the junior division. Their project was focused on testing different methods of desalinating water to determine which was most effective.

Through the K-12 education program and events like the Science and Engineering Fair, the Water Authority encourages students throughout the region to become next generation of water industry professionals.

Farley visits one of the new hydration stations in San Marcos. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Wags and Water

Wags and Water Festival Brings Canines and Water Conservation Together

The Vallecitos Water District and the City of San Marcos will celebrate the installation of five new hydration stations at local parks while also supporting pet adoption. The “Wags & Water Festival” takes place at Woodland Park in San Marcos on Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to Noon.

Water conservation

San Marcos and Vallecitos partnered on the new project to encourage water conservation. Five hydration stations have been installed in San Marcos parks to facilitate easy refilling of reusable bottles during outdoor activities instead of using purchased bottled water. Both the City of San Marcos and the Vallecitos Water District are committed to reducing single-use plastics. Each station features a quick-fill mechanism to encourage reusable water bottle use alongside a regular water fountain spout.

In addition, at the suggestion of San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Specialist Joni German, each station also has a water bowl for pet owner use.

“I’m a dog lover who knows that hydrating is just as important to dogs as it is to their humans,” said German. “Adding the dog water bowls to the bottle filling stations makes our walks to the park more enjoyable.”

Preview video about Wags and Water Festival

                                                       Dog rescue groups featured at Festival

Find your new best friend and save a life at the Wags and Water Festival. Photo: Tatiana Tati, Pixabay

Find your new best friend and save a life at the Wags and Water Festival. Photo: Tatiana Tati/Pixabay

San Diego County dog adoption agencies will be at the event with adoptable dogs and adoption information. Participating groups include A New Life Rescue, Labs and More, Operation Greyhound, Paws 4 Thought Animal Rescue, and Tragic to Magic.

The hydration station project received $25,000 in grant funding from the Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to cover the purchase and installation of the stations and educational signage informing the public about the benefits of tap water over bottled water. The signage also offers several additional steps people can take to conserve water.

The new hydration stations help conserve water and avoid the production of single use plastic bottles. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The new hydration stations help conserve water and avoid the production of single use plastic bottles. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos worked with the San Marcos Public Works Department to install hydration stations at Mission Sports Field Park, Bradley Park, Connors Park, Buelow Park, and Woodland Park.

Reusable water bottles and free dog treats will be provided while supplies last. Dogs must be leashed.

More event information: https://www.facebook.com/events/

Bottled water is a wasteful convenience. According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 1.5 gallons of water to manufacture a single plastic bottle holding 16 ounces of drinking water. All plastic drinking bottles are made from new plastic material, so there is no recovery due to recycling.

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Utility Patent-Pipeline Inspection Tool-

Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

Patent for pipeline inspection system

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Patent #US011,293,581 on April 5, 2022, for the Water Authority’s pipeline inspection system, which comprises a body, cameras, support members and light sources to capture high-resolution images of pipeline walls.

Innovation benefits water ratepayers

“This new pipeline inspection tool is a prime example of the Water Authority’s commitment to innovation that benefits ratepayers by saving money and enhancing reliability,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “We have a long history of advancing industry-leading solutions, from state legislation to adopt low-flow toilets in the early 1990s to the nation’s largest water conservation-and-transfer program a decade later to the largest seawater desalination plant on the continent.”

The Water Authority operates and maintains a water delivery system capable of delivering more than 900 million gallons of water per day through 310 miles of large-diameter pipeline, 1,600 aqueduct-related structures, and approximately 100 metering/flow control facilities. It also includes a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, hydroelectric facilities, pump stations, flow regulatory structures, and reservoirs that store water for emergencies and dry years.

Scanny-patent-innovation-

The inspection tool uses commercially available lightweight adventure cameras and lights that are arranged in a unique way on a chassis that moves through pipelines that are 4 to 9 feet in diameter. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

New pipeline inspection tool part of high-tech toolkit

The Water Authority uses a combination of technologies for monitoring pipelines, including electromagnetic scanning, which detects and locates damaged areas within pipeline walls, and real-time acoustic fiber-optic monitoring, which can detect and locate distressed pipelines while they are in service. The technology invented by Coghill is just a small part of an expansive toolkit.

The Water Authority applied for the patent on June 13, 2019, and spent nearly three years completing the complex process. The patent assigns the intellectual property rights to the Water Authority, allowing it to freely use the technology and share it with other water utilities that might also benefit from its use.

The inspection tool uses commercially available lightweight adventure cameras and lights that are arranged in a unique way on a chassis that moves through pipelines that are 4 to 9 feet in diameter, said Coghill, who has worked for the agency since 2013.

Video of “Scanny” from January 29, 2019

High-resolution imaging

“This technology was created in-house out of necessity to improve safety while inspecting steep portions of our aqueduct,” said Coghill. “The array of multiple cameras enables high-resolution imaging, and the unique design keeps the cameras oriented in the correct position relative to the pipe.”

Coghill, who affectionately calls the tool “Scanny,” said the camera array can also be added to any existing pipeline assessment equipment and offers much higher resolution than traditional CCTV. In addition to inspecting unsafe and inaccessible portions of pipelines, the tool’s design means the Water Authority no longer needs to use specialized third-party rope support crews to assist with pipe inspections. A bonus feature of the device is the ability to stitch the video files together for an immersive 360-degree virtual reality experience. He said it’s always fun to take people into the pipe by just putting on VR goggles.

The Water Authority will continue to use its patented technology to benefit water ratepayers and the safety of employees.

The complete patent is posted on the U.S Patent and Trademark Office website: https://bit.ly/3vGEk0I.

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

Working Together on Water Affordability

After weeks of work, I’m pleased to report that thanks to the improved relationship between the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the San Diego County Water Authority, along with increased collaboration with other water agencies across Southern California, we helped reduce proposed rate increases to our wholesale water supplies by 7 percentage points over the next two years. This is good news for water ratepayers!

The bottom line is this: Instead of raising wholesale water costs by 17% over the next two years, MWD unanimously adopted consecutive 5% increases. This will allow MWD to cover increasing costs facing every sector of our economy, including our water industry, while limiting the impact on residents and businesses.

Collaboration on water affordability

My thanks to MWD Chairwoman Gloria Gray and MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil and their team of dedicated professionals, who heard water agencies’ concerns and presented a lower rate increase proposal that brought the MWD board together. It’s also important to note the role of San Diego County’s delegates, who sit on the MWD Board and played a key role in lowering the costs. These delegates (Lois Fong-Sakai, Gail Goldberg, Marty Miller, and Tim Smith) represent you and worked diligently over several weeks to help gain support from their colleagues for the rate proposal that prevailed.

Water Authority member agencies play key role

I also want to thank the retail water agencies across San Diego County that supported our region’s delegates by sending letters to MWD, including Escondido, Helix, Olivenhain, Otay, Santa Fe, Sweetwater, and Valley Center. It makes a huge difference for the MWD board, which meets in Los Angeles, to see that we are a united region.

Water affordability a priority

Water issues are not simple, and many challenges remain as the Water Authority takes on setting its rates for 2023. We all still face enormous challenges depending on the severity of drought conditions. For example, if Lake Mead water levels continue to drop, the ability to generate hydroelectric power at the Hoover Dam could grind to a halt. The demand and cost of electricity could skyrocket, which could severely affect the cost of water delivery. However, please be assured that your Water Authority Board will continue to make the affordability of water a priority.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Sweetwater Authority, Valley Center Municipal Water District, and the City of Escondido, are seven of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Water Conservation-A side by side look at before and after photos of the Rancho San Diego Association landscape renovation, completed with assistance from the County's Landscape Optimization Service. Photos: Courtesy Rancho San Diego HOA

Spring Valley HOA and Watershed Benefit From Landscape Optimization Service

Conserving water and reducing pollution are two of many benefits from a new program in San Diego County.

Through a partnership between the County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program and the San Diego County Water Authority, residences and businesses in unincorporated areas of the county became eligible for newly enhanced water-use efficiency rebates in 2021. The Waterscape Rebate Program saves money for residential, commercial, and agricultural customers who make landscape upgrades to improve the region’s climate resilience and reduce the flow of pollutants into waterways.

The new concierge-style assistance program helped members of a Spring Valley homeowners association benefit from available incentives and rebates. As a result, residents saved money on landscape upgrades while reducing the flow of pollution into waterways and conserving water.

Rancho San Diego Association, the first HOA to complete a project through the program and a customer of Otay Water District and Helix Water District, replaced nearly 40,000 square feet of unused grass and installed smart irrigation timers. Photo: Courtesy Rancho San Diego Association

Rancho San Diego Association, the first HOA to complete a project through the program and a customer of Otay Water District and Helix Water District, replaced nearly 40,000 square feet of unused grass and installed smart irrigation timers. Photo: Courtesy Rancho San Diego Association

To make applying for rebates easier for large landscapes, the county added a Landscape Optimization Service, a unique technical assistance program for large-scale landscaping projects. The program helps applicants with large landscapes, such as HOAs and commercial properties, navigate the requirements, overcome barriers, and maximize their rebate eligibility.

LOS staff analyzes estimated water and cost savings, which details how quickly the project will pay for itself. The program also offers discounted designs to participants.

The finished project is estimated to reduce water use by almost two million gallons annually. Their total project costs prior to the rebate were approximately $120,000. After the rebates, the HOA paid just $13,000 for the project. Photo: Courtesy Rancho San Diego Association Landscape Optimization ServiceThe finished project is estimated to reduce water use by almost two million gallons annually. Their total project costs prior to the rebate were approximately $120,000. After the rebates, the HOA paid just $13,000 for the project. Photo: Courtesy Rancho San Diego Association Landscape Optimization Service

The finished project is estimated to reduce water use by almost two million gallons annually. Their total project costs prior to the rebate were approximately $120,000. After the rebates, the HOA paid just $13,000 for the project. Photo: Courtesy Rancho San Diego Association

VIDEO: Learn more about the program and see the Rancho San Diego HOA transformation

First of its kind assistance program

“Many of our larger customers, such as HOAs, are run by volunteers who don’t have the time or resources to undertake large landscape projects,” said Joni German, Water Resources Specialist at the Water Authority. “Most of their landscapes were put in during the 1970s, and many are ready for a water-efficient upgrade. This partnership with the County enables us to offer HOA customers a first-of-its-kind program with assistance from start to finish.”

Rancho San Diego Association, the first HOA to complete a project through the program and a customer of Otay Water District and Helix Water District, replaced nearly 40,000 square feet of unused grass and installed smart irrigation timers. The project is estimated to reduce water use by almost two million gallons annually. Total costs prior to the rebate were estimated at $120,000. After rebates, the HOA paid $13,000 for the project.

Currently, seven San Diego County HOAs are working through the process of removing common area grass with the support of County of San Diego contractor Environmental Incentives.

Their project is estimated to reduce water use by almost two million gallons annually. Their total project costs prior to the rebate were approximately $120,000. After the rebates, the HOA paid just $13,000 for the project.

The project is estimated to reduce water use by almost two million gallons annually. The total project costs prior to the rebate were approximately $120,000. After rebates, the HOA paid $13,000 for the project.

“The County is proud to partner with HOAs, like the Rancho San Diego Association, to help protect local waterways by transitioning to a more sustainable landscape,” said Scott Norris, Land Use Environmental Planning Manager with the County Water Protection Program. “We look forward to expanding the Landscape Optimization Service in the coming years to assist more properties in upgrading their outdoor space and helping protect water quality.”

Sustainable landscapes produce multiple benefits, which include reducing water use, enhancing habitat, increasing stormwater retention, and decreasing runoff.

The enhanced incentives include rebates starting at $3 per square foot for turf replacement, $60 per smart controller station, $65 per rain barrel, and up to $450 per cistern. In addition to offering technical assistance to upgrade larger landscapes on multifamily and commercial properties, a cost-share is available for agricultural growers to make water-saving upgrades.

Water customers in unincorporated San Diego County can determine their eligibility at SanDiegoCounty.gov/WatershedRebates. The Landscape Optimization Service is actively recruiting new participants.

Protecting our watershed by conserving water

The Waterscape Rebate Program helps to protect local waterways by reducing pollutants that enter storm drains. When irrigation systems overflow from landscaping, runoff may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system and cause the same adverse effects as runoff from rainfall. Reducing turf helps reduce irrigation use and runoff.

The program includes outreach and education to commercial, industrial, and residential properties in unincorporated areas of the county. San Diego County is also offering programs with rebates for upgrades, including rain gardens, gutters, permeable pavement, and regular septic system pumping.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District and Otay Water District are two of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

San Diego Tree Week-Earth Day-Arbor Day-Water Conservation Garden

San Diego Tree Week: Concerts and Free Trees

The Water Conservation Garden is celebrating Spring this year by launching San Diego Tree Week. The goal, from April 22-29, is to plant 1,000 trees and bring San Diego residents together through tree planting.

As drought stretches into a third year in California, The Water Conservation Garden hopes the tree week campaign will help educate and increase awareness of the environmental benefits of tree planting. Some of the benefits include removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

San Diego Tree Week and free trees

The Water Conservation Garden will kick off San Diego Tree Week with a free event and tree giveaway.

Certified arborist Jose Bedoya of Leaf it to Us Tree Service will lead a workshop on April 23, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. on choosing the right tree for the right place. Bedoya teaches at Cuyamaca College, where he received a Certified Arborist Certificate.

The tree giveaway will follow the workshop. After the free tree event, another workshop will start at 11:30 a.m. on tree planting and care, led by Board Certified Master Arborist Brad Brown of Tree Life Consulting. In 2011, Brown obtained Registered Consulting Arborist status. A year later he became a Board Certified Master Arborist.

Registration and attendance to at least one of the workshops is required to receive a tree, which are first come first serve.

San Diego Tree Week features a tree giveaway and workshops. (Photo: Free Tree Giveaway at The Water Conservation Fall Garden Festival in 2021 courtesy of The Water Conservation Garden)

From Earth Day to Arbor Day

A few more hands-on ways to get involved include leading a tree planting event, volunteering at a local tree planting site, and becoming a tree planting site. They’re also looking for financial help through donations, gifted tree seedlings, and sponsorship opportunities.

San Diego Tree Week concerts

Another way to participate with the whole family is attending the San Diego Tree Week Concerts. The concerts, sponsored by Union Bank, will feature certified double platinum singer, songwriter Ryan Cabrera and special guest Lexington Field.

The concerts are suitable for all ages and will close out Tree Week on April 26 and 27, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on both nights.

San Diego Tree Week-Earth Day-Arbor Day

Ryan Cabrera, musician, certified double-platinum singer, songwriter.

The venue on April 26 will be The Water Conservation Garden. The April 27 concert is at the Second Chance Beer Company. Tickets are $30 for members of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum or members of The Water Conservation Garden; general admission is $40. Ticket sales from the April 27 San Diego Tree Week concert will benefit the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.

Water conservation and sustainability

Six Joint Powers Agencies own The Garden and have contracted with Friends of the Water Conservation, a nonprofit organization, to manage it. The agencies are the San Diego County Water Authority, the City of San Diego, Helix Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Otay Water District and Cuyamaca College.

The mission of The Water Conservation Garden is to educate and inspire through excellent exhibits and programs that promote water conservation and the sustainable use of related natural resources.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego, Helix Water District, Otay Water District, and Sweetwater Authority, are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)