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Olivenhain Municipal Water District-CWEA-award-water recycling

Recycled Water Facility is Plant of the Year

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility is the California Water Environment Association‘s Plant of the Year.

The District’s Board of Directors accepted the award at its May 19 meeting from California Water Environment Association San Diego section. The Plant of the Year award acknowledges OMWD’s accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, and cost‐effectiveness.

“Our board is thrilled that 4S WRF has been recognized for industry‐leading procedures and techniques to produce high‐quality recycled water, increase water reliability, and operate safely, effectively, and economically,” said Olivenhain Municipal Water District Vice President Kristie Bruce‐Lane. “We need to focus on keeping water affordable and accessible to everyone. Diversifying California’s water portfolio by investing more in recycled water is a critical strategy in doing so, now and for our future generations.”

Recycled water

OMWD’s 4S WRF can produce up to two million gallons of recycled water each day. This alternative water supply is used for irrigation purposes at schools, parks, golf courses, streetscapes, and homeowner association common areas in the southeastern portion of OMWD’s service area.

“We appreciate the work of CWEA to advocate for realistic regulatory requirements for water agencies, helping us to maintain affordable rates for our ratepayers,” said Lane. “The way to move forward is by working together to create a thriving California that has enough fresh, clean and affordable water for people, food, and the environment alike.”

Proactive maintenace of infrastructure

4S WRF operators inspect and maintain more than 85 miles of sewer collection system pipelines, as well as equipment at the facility, lift stations, a 410-acre-foot storage pond, and a one-million-gallon reservoir. Proactive maintenance is also a priority, helping to avoid costly emergency repairs and ensuring continued wastewater and recycled water services for customers.

This is the second time in three years OMWD has won the San Diego section award. In 2019, 4S WRF was also named California’s “Plant of the Year” by CWEA’s state office.

Founded in 1927, the California Water Environment Association is a nonprofit association of 9,000-plus professionals in the wastewater industry. The association trains and certifies wastewater professionals, disseminates technical information, and promotes sound policies to benefit society through protection and enhancement of our water environment.

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

Enjoy Urban Farming While Being Water Smart

Many San Diego County native plants and herbs have fruits and leaves you can harvest. They can be mixed into any climate-appropriate planting design. You don’t have to be a farmer to grow and enjoy them in your sustainable landscaping.

For the health of your urban farming crops, consider employing organic growing methods including sheet mulching and integrated pest management. This will ensure the health of your soil, your crops, and the people who eventually eat and enjoy them.

Check local drought ordinances in your area to confirm watering schedules permitted for edibles, which may be more flexible during the most active growing period. Because the San Diego region has a mild, warm climate throughout the year, you can plant most fruiting trees just about any time of the year. Citrus trees generally do best in our area when planted in May or June, but it is possible to plant them earlier or later in the year as long as there is no nighttime frost.

Arrange the urban farming area in your landscaping to take advantage of their irrigation needs in a designated area. If the rest of the landscaping is using minimal water, you can spare extra irrigation for your fruits and vegetables in their specific zone. For all landscaping, irrigate with the most efficient system possible.

Fruitful trees to enjoy

Fruit trees, especially citrus, thrive in San Diego County’s climates with just a little bit of care. The Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana) is a good choice with spectacular blooms. Photo: WIkimedia/Creative Commons License Edible Plants climate zone

Fruit trees, especially citrus, thrive in San Diego County’s climates with just a little bit of care. The Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana) is a good choice with spectacular blooms. Photo: Wikimedia/Creative Commons License

Fruit trees, especially citrus, thrive in San Diego’s regional climate zones with a  little bit of care. Top choices include:

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Chinese Date (Ziziphus jujuba)

Santa Rosa Plum (Prunus salicina)

Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana)

Improved Meyer Lemon (Citrus “Improved Meyer”)

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

First Place, Color: Winner Kayla Rosenberg, a freshman at Hilltop High School, said her entry “Sunshine Shower” portrayed the family dog' sense of fun. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Student Photographers Capture Water

Thirteen talented student photographers creatively captured the importance of water in their homes and in the context of the coronavirus pandemic in Sweetwater Authority’s 2021 High School Photo Contest.

Winners were selected from 50 students from South San Diego Bay high schools who submitted more than 100 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 water agency acknowleged it was an unusual year and thanked students for their contributions during an unusual school year.

“This year’s contest was unique, in that we asked students to reflect on the meaning of water in their homes and in the context of the pandemic,” said Leslie Payne, Sweetwater Authority public affairs manager. “The entries we received and their accompanying essays reflected not only on the importance of water but also of the ability of art to uplift us all during difficult times.”

 Top Honors for student photographers

Color Photography

First Place, Color: Winner Kayla Rosenberg, a freshman at Hilltop High School, said her entry “Sunshine Shower” portrayed the family dog’s sense of fun. Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

First place winner Kayla Rosenberg, a freshman at Hilltop High School, said her entry “Sunshine Shower” shows how her family uses water to have fun. “During the long hot days, I usually turn on the hose to water the grass and plants. But, my biggest dog just can’t resist the shower of water.”

Second Place, Color: Chula Vista High School sophomore Araceli Romo portrayed her love for watercolor painting in “Watercolor Wonderland” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Chula Vista High School sophomore Araceli Romo portrayed her love for watercolor painting in “Watercolor Wonderland.” Her photo won second place.

Third Place, Color: Trinity Fuentecilla, Eastlake High School, “Water for Roots” Photo Courtesy: Sweetwater Authority

Alia Kircher, a senior at Bonita Vista High School, said her photo “Roots” depicting a plant’s roots growing in water “symbolizes how water keeps us alive.”

Black & White Photography 

First Place, Black and White: Mariah Journigan, Bonita Vista High School, “Shelter In Place” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Junior Mariah Journigan of Bonita Vista High School described her winning photo “Shelter In Place” in her entry essay: “Every drop of water in this picture represents two things: The chaos and uncertainty in the past year during COVID-19, and the daily lifeline it has been to us at home … Having water to wash our hands has been a lifeline and nothing less than an essential part of my daily life this past year.”

Second Place, Black and White: Airyl Van Dayrit, Sweetwater High School, said “Water’s Vibrant Shades” represents both the comfort of water as an essential element along with the realities of water pollution and scarcity. Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Second Place winner Airyl Van Dayrit a senior at Sweetwater High School, said “Water’s Vibrant Shades” represents both the comfort of water as an essential element along with the realities of water pollution and scarcity.

Honorable Mention: Trinity Fuentecilla, 9th Grade, Eastlake High School – “Tree Branch View." Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Honorable Mention: Trinity Fuentecilla, 9th Grade, Eastlake High School – “Tree Branch View” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Trinity Fuentecilla, a freshman at Eastlake High School, won third place for her photo “Water for Roots,” celebrating a new love of plants developed during the pandemic.

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention: Esteban Robledo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Let’s Take a Leap of Faith." Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Honorable Mention: Esteban Robledo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Let’s Take a Leap of Faith” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Color Category

  • Gregory Aguilar, 10th Grade, Chula Vista High School  “Afternoon at Morrison Pond”
  • Joaquin Angulo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School  “Water + Plants = Happiness”
  • Mariah Journigan, 11th Grade, Bonita Vista High School – “Detox”
  • Ashley Marquez, 11th Grade, Chula Vista High School – “Spring Blossom”
  • Itzlamin Reta, 9th Grade, Sweetwater High School – “Flower Droplet”
  • Esteban Robledo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Let’s Take a Leap of Faith”
Honorable Mention: Kaitlyn Vu, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Thirst Quencher." Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Honorable Mention: Kaitlyn Vu, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Thirst Quencher” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Black and White Category

  • Mariah Journigan, 11th Grade, Bonita Vista High School – “Refresh From The Stress”
  • Trinity Fuentecilla, 9th Grade, Eastlake High School – “Tree Branch View”
  • Joaquin Angulo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Wash Your Hands”
  • Mayra Huezo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Water Uses”
  • Kaitlyn Vu, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Thirst Quencher”

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.

The winning photos are displayed in a slideshow. A special exhibit at the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center will showcase the winning photographs from May 15 through June 12.

(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.)

The Desert Museum Palo Verde tree is an ideal low water use choice for Southern California landscaping. Photo: Danielle Bardgette/Creative Commons-Flickr trees

Waterwise Tree Choices for Watersmart Landscaping

Trees are the single most valuable addition to your waterwise landscaping. Trees create improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. They also improve air quality and provide habitat for insects, birds, and animals. Healthy, mature trees are so beneficial, they can add an average of 10% to a property’s overall value.

When thoughtfully placed around buildings, the cooling and insulation created by a tree’s canopy can reduce air conditioning needs by 30%, and can save 20-to-50% of the energy used for heating.

Before you choose landscaping trees, research their size at maturity. When you first purchase it, it’s in a 15- or 25-gallon container and it’s hard to imagine it growing above your roofline. But a small tree can become a 30-foot tall tree with a 30-foot wide canopy of branches in a few short years. If you select a large tree species, it could be 70 feet tall and equally as wide.

Ensure tree placement gives you a sufficient distance away from your home or other structures. Small trees (30 feet wide or less at maturity) should be placed no closer than 10 feet. Large trees (70 feet wide or more at maturity) should be planted no closer than 20 feet from a house.

Top waterwise tree choices

The Desert Willow is an ideal tree for its size, flowers, and waterwise nature. Photo: Pixabay

Which trees are the best waterwise choices for the San Diego region? These are five proven favorites.

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia ‘Desert Museum’)

California Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamus floribundus)

Hybrid Strawberry Tree (Arbutus ‘Manna’)

Consider large shrubs as alternative choices

Large shrubs can be smart alternatives for screening unwanted views. Be considerate of the viewshed of your neighborhood. Will the shrubs block a special view for others?

Several best choices of waterwise small  trees and shrubs for screening

California lilac (Ceanothus) is a native plant to San Diego County and produces spectacular blooms in early spring. Photo: Wikimedia

California lilac (Ceanothus) is a native plant to San Diego County and produces spectacular blooms in early spring. Photo: Wikimedia

Catalina Cherry (Prunus iliofolia ssp. Lyonii)

Pacific Was Myrtle (Myrica california)

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

Tecate Cypress (Cuppressus forbesii)

California Mountain Lilac (Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’)

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Vallecitos Water District waterwater technicians Matt Wiess and Chris Deering at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Vallecitos Water District employees

Water and Wastewater Scholarship Opportunities Available at National University

The new Waterworks Management Concentration in the Bachelor of Public Administration, offered by National University in partnership with Cuyamaca College, begins its second cohort of courses in August. Two new scholarship opportunities are now available to help prospective students overcome financial barriers and reach new career goals.

Developed in collaboration with regional employers, and driven by the rapidly growing demands for skilled career professionals in the water and wastewater industry, the Bachelor of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Waterworks Management, or BPA degree, allows graduates of the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies to transfer directly into National University bachelor’s program after earning their associate’s degree. Transfer scholarships are also available to graduates of other California community colleges.

Scholarship opportunities include:

  • The Opportunity Scholarship, which extends financial assistance to adult learned who are Pell Grant recipients
  • The Fast Track Scholarship, a merit-based award designed to help students complete their degree program by offering a free class for every three classes completed within six months, up to a 25% savings in tuition fees
  • The ADT Scholarship for CA CC Transfer Students

Dr. Joseph Allen, Director of Community College Pathways at National University, holds free live information webinars for prospective students every other Thursday. The next one is scheduled at 5 p.m. on May 20. Registration is free and open to anyone interested in the program. All courses in the program are taught online.

“While you are working from home, you now have digital access to a waterworks management education that can transform your career trajectory,” said Dr. Allen.

Demand for skilled professionals

Water and wastewater professionals like the Olivenhain Municipal Water District 4S Ranch Wastewater Treatment plant employees are moving toward retirement with not enough replacements available. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Water and wastewater professionals like the Olivenhain Municipal Water District 4S Ranch Wastewater Treatment plant employees are moving toward retirement with not enough replacements available. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The water and wastewater industry’s rapidly growing demand for highly skilled professionals shows no signs of slowing in the coming years. Impending retirements will create a need to fill 12,000 to 20,000 water and wastewater jobs throughout California in the near future. Many of the positions require a bachelor’s degree such as the National University BPA degree.

The degree collaboration allows students to complete both an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree while reducing the time and cost. Student support services at both institutions help foster a seamless process for students to transfer from Cuyamaca College to National University.

The insight and recommendations of regional employers coordinated by the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College and the San Diego County Water Authority, make the academic pathway possible.

Positive student reviews

The National University Bachelor of Public Administration degree program is taught in a convenient online format. Photo: Vanessa Garcia

The National University Bachelor of Public Administration degree program is taught in a convenient online format. Photo: Vanessa Garcia

Students from the first group completing the four-course concentration give the program positive feedback.

“I had a great experience in Waterworks Management in California,” said Clinton Swanger. “The class enlightened me to fact that there are different ways to view this subject. I feel as if I have a better understanding of how water management works and what to expect in the future.”

Graduates will be able to address the issues and challenges facing water and wastewater agencies at the state, regional, and local levels, including governing requirements and regulatory compliance while employing water management best practices.

Degree program well suited for military veterans  

Administrators plan to eventually offer onsite and hybrid courses involving the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies field operations skills yard for hands-on experience. Photo: Courtesy GCCCD

Administrators plan to eventually offer onsite and hybrid courses involving the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies field operations skills yard for hands-on experience. Photo: Courtesy GCCCD

National University offers all BPA courses online. Administrators plan to eventually offer onsite and hybrid courses involving the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies field operations skills yard for hands-on experience.

Students earning the Bachelor of Public Administration degree will complete National University’s four-course concentration of upper-division courses studying:

  • Water and waterworks management in CA
  • California Waterworks Law & Compliance,
  • Human Resources & Labor Relations
  • Leadership in Water Management

Students can begin the BPA program at any time.

As a veteran-founded, private nonprofit institution, National University is dedicated to serving service members, veterans, and their families. This new BPA waterworks concentration is particularly well suited for veterans using their GI benefits to further their education. Veterans are eligible to apply their military experience and education toward certifications in the water industry.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner Laura Lisauskas redid her family’s street-facing sloped side yard. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Protect Your Hillsides and Slopes 

San Diego County features many native canyons, and many homes are located in proximity to a native canyon. Native canyon hillsides near your home should not be disturbed. The more you can adapt your home’s landscaping to Nature’s landscaping, the healthier and more low maintenance it will be.

Your home may have been built on canyon slopes leveled or filled. When planting in previously disturbed or built slopes and hillsides, choose low-water use plants and trees, especially deep-rooted native plant species. Climate-appropriate plants with strong root structures are the best choices. Their powerful root systems can help hold your soil together.

Coarse compost and mulch can be applied directly to hillside and slope surfaces, providing protection from the force of rainfall and shading exposed soils, if your slope is gentle with a 33% grade or less. With occasional and gentle irrigation, mulch will “knit” together.

Compost blankets are another type of erosion control mat applied to the soil surface to protect and preserve it. They can be used alone, with coir mats or other organic-engineered material with biodegradable grids for stabilization. Mats allow water to penetrate through to the underlying soils while retaining loose soil and debris, preventing erosion. You can plant right through them, or use pre-seeded products.

Irrigation tips to help preserve hillsides

Be sure your irrigation plan takes into account hills and slopes to prevent wasting water and erosion. Photo: Pixabay

Prepping Hillside for planting

When preparing a hillside for planting, plan your irrigation before doing any work. Low-volume rotating spray heads are ideal for sloped areas, if the space is large and the groundcover is uniform. Inline emitter drip tubing can also be effective, especially for wider-spaced shrubs and trees.

Water can be applied in repeated short periods over the course of 24 hours so it can be fully absorbed between application times. Runoff, erosion, and efficient deep watering should be factored into all landscaping plans, but especially for hillsides.

NOTE: When using a drip irrigation system, emitters should be placed above the plant basin. Spray systems should have check valves in all lower heads to avoid low point runoff. Irrigation for the top of the slope and bottom of the slope should be on separate valves.

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

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

Investments Protect San Diego Region from Drought

It has been a very busy few weeks in the water world, with the governor declaring a drought emergency in two Northern California counties and increased discussions across the West about how to manage water through a very dry year.

While the challenges are real in some parts of the state, I applaud Governor Newsom for taking a targeted, flexible, and iterative approach to drought management. This approach provides support for individual regions that are suffering from drought while also recognizing regions like San Diego County that have sufficient water supplies due to three decades of investments in supply reliability.

Water Portfolio Strategy

The governor’s Water Portfolio Strategy aligns with our region’s long-term investments in a diversified water portfolio, desalinated seawater, conserved water from Imperial County, local water-use efficiency measures, member agency recycled water and local supply projects, and increased water storage. It’s especially important to highlight the efforts of our ratepayers, who have cut per capita water use by nearly half since 1990. Because of those actions and others, our residents have enough water for 2021 and future dry years.

In addition, the innovative and resilient water supply portfolio created by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies puts our region in a unique position to provide solutions that can help California weather this drought and future droughts – for instance, by storing water in Lake Mead. We look forward to working with the governor and his staff to collaborate on projects and programs where we can use our assets and experience to help areas that are hit hard by drought in the face of a changing climate.

Finally, I invite you to read my latest commentary in The San Diego Union-Tribune that addresses many of the issues being faced statewide and how that impacts San Diego County.

I hope you also take a moment to appreciate the cartoon in the U-T by Steve Breen, which perfectly captures our investments over the past three decades.

Steve Breen Drought cartoon-prepared-drought

Value of Water-Photo Contest-Water Awareness Month

Value of Water Photo Contest Celebrates Water Awareness Month

During May, share what the value of water means to you on Instagram for the chance to win great prizes from our partners around San Diego County, including Balboa Park attractions, San Diego Botanic Garden, and the Water Conservation Garden.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies are hosting their annual photo contest to celebrate Water Awareness Month in May. 

Water is essential to everything we do. From our morning routines when we’re making that first cup of coffee to our evening routines when we’re brushing our teeth before bed.

But water is also there for all the fun in-between moments when we’re outdoors and enjoying the best nature has to offer. From surfing San Diego County’s beautiful beaches, to exploring waterfalls in the backcountry, to fishing and boating in the region’s lakes. Water brings so much enjoyment, and it also powers our key industries such as brewing, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture. 

Water Awareness Month

As the region celebrates the value of water, it’s important to remember that San Diego County has a proud history of improving water-use efficiency. In fact, over the past 30 years, per capita water use has dropped by more than 50% and maintaining water-smart habits is especially important during what’s turning out to be a very dry year across California.

Since 1991, the Water Authority’s water-use efficiency programs and initiatives cumulatively have conserved more than 1 million acre-feet of water. These savings have been achieved through measures that include incentives on water-efficient devices, legislative efforts, and outreach programs, including photo contests.

Using water efficiently is a way of life and an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in a beautiful Mediterranean climate like San Diegans enjoy.

Over the past decade, residents and businesses across the county have adopted “WaterSmart” plants, irrigation technologies and habits that not only save money, but also create vibrant yards, reduce energy use, protect natural resources and reduce landscape maintenance.

Value of Water photo contest May 1-31

Enter the Value of Water Photo Contest on Instagram from May 1-31, 2021, for the chance to win great prizes from local tourist attractions. 

How to enter

  • Take a photo that illustrates what the value of water means to you. The value of water is all around us, in almost everything we do. Have fun and be creative with the theme.
  • Post the photo to Instagram between May 1-31, follow and tag the Water Authority @sdcwa, and use #ValueOfWater in your post. Multiple entries will be accepted.

Details

  • Contest begins Saturday, May 1, 2021 and ends Monday, May 31, 2021 at 5 p.m.
  • Winners will be announced on Instagram the week of May 31, 2021.
  • Winners chosen based on most “likes” on Instagram.

Prizes

Prizes have been generously donated by local organizations including the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Friends of Balboa Park, San Diego Botanic Garden and Water Conservation Garden.

  • 1st Prize: 4-pack of Balboa Park Explorer Park Passes + 4 Balboa Park Carousel tickets
  • 2nd Prize: 4-pack of tickets to the San Diego Botanic Garden*
  • 3rd Prize: 4-pack of tickets to the Water Conservation Garden

*The 2nd Prize winner will have their choice of tickets to the San Diego Botanic Garden (Encinitas) or the Water Conservation Garden (El Cajon).

Need Inspiration? Check out past photo contest entries. 

Contest Rules

  • Participants must be 18 or older. Winners will be asked to show proof of age.
  • To qualify, participants must follow and tag the San Diego County Water Authority on Instagram @sdcwa, and the post must include the hashtag #ValueofWater.
  • Photos will be accepted from May 1-31, 2021. The cutoff time is 5 p.m. on May 31, 2021. Multiple entries will be accepted.
  • Winners will be announced on Instagram the week of May 31, 2021.
  • Winners chosen based on most “likes” on Instagram.
  • Employees and Board members of the San Diego County Water Authority and their immediate families are not eligible for prizes but may contribute images.
Scotch broom's blooms are pretty, but it is a non-native invasive species and should be avoided. Photo: Armen Nano/Pixabay

Five Pushy Plant Pests To Avoid

San Diego County’s mild Mediterranean climate allows nearly any type of plants to flourish with adequate irrigation. But when non-native plants are planted alongside native plants, they do their best to take over.  These are plant pests. The worst of them overrun valuable native plant species. They drain limited rainfall and soil nutrients away from native plants which have developed the ability to better manage limited resources. The natives are not as aggressive and can’t compete with the non-native bullies.

Public enemies of your landscaping

Brazilian pepper trees are invasive with damaging roots. Photo: Sabine Schmidt/Pixabay

Brazilian pepper trees are invasive with damaging roots. They are non-native plants you should avoid in a watersmart landscape plan Photo: Sabine Schmidt/Pixabay

Plant pests

You may have planted a few of these common choices in your landscaping without knowing it. They are still sold commercially. These non-natives take up too much space to co-exist with native low-water use plants. If your landscaping gives pushy plant pests a home, remove them at the soonest opportunity.

  • African Fountain Grass
  • Periwinkle
  • Brazilian Pepper Tree
  • Scotch Broom
  • Mexican Feather Grass

Very few non-native specific offer any benefits to the San Diego region’s environment. Local animals and insects prefer native species for food and habitat. Invasive species should also be removed from commercial nursery stock, and shouldn’t ever be planted in the first place. You can help weed them out by removing them.

How to identify non-native plants

The California Invasive Plant Council maintains a list of invasive plants that cause problems throughout the state. This list only addresses plants that are a problem and may miss regional problems. For a list, visit the Plant Right website.

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Students-Student displays science and engineering fair project

San Diego County Students Innovate to Solve Water Challenges

In March, Water Authority staff judged water-related projects by students at the 67th annual Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. Judging the fair is a longstanding tradition at the Water Authority and a component of the education outreach program. For decades, the Water Authority has recognized the top water-related projects with a scholarship and award. This year’s fair was conducted in a virtual format, but more than 280 students still brought their best projects to the table.

Each student who was interviewed by Water Authority staff demonstrated a strong knowledge of the scientific process, as well as an awareness of big picture issues that are important in the water industry and beyond. Five winners were selected, and each will receive a gift card and plaque. Water Authority staff also showcased a video of the five winners and their outstanding projects at the April San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors meeting.

Students present top water-related projects

Forward-thinking students solve global and everyday water issues

In the senior division, first place winner Bella Rose Schremmer designed a piston-buoy rack and pinion wave energy converter device. The 10th grader from University City High School said she was inspired by the kinetic energy formed by ocean waves, and she wanted to create a project that could capture that energy as a renewable energy source to replace the burning of fossil fuels. Bella Rose attributed part of her success in this project to her father, who supported her by procuring materials and providing encouragement, and to her teacher and mentor, Mrs. Bosch, who guided her through the process.

In second place, Suvali Sengupta created a biodegradable microporous polymer that was designed to help soil water retention in an agricultural setting. The 11th grader from Westview High School shared that her inspiration came from her Indian heritage and the drought conditions that India’s farmers struggle with each year.

Saltwater desalination, water purification, water conservation

In the junior division, Kristine Talaga from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School won first place with her project on saltwater desalination. The 7th grader designed a project to test the effects of different colored backgrounds – black, white or foil – on containers containing salt water and how quickly heat could desalinate the water in each container.

Samantha Rivera, an 8th grader from Chula Vista Middle School, claimed second place with her project about which methods of water purification removed the most dissolved solids.

In third place, 8th grader Sonria Rheiglene Simanski, also representing Chula Vista Middle School, tracked how much water is wasted when waiting for the shower to warm up, determining the best times of day to shower for optimal water-use efficiency.