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Top-10-tips-Water Conservation-Drought-WaterSmart

Top 10 Tips for Saving Water This Fall

As drought conditions persist throughout the Southwest, the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies continue to actively support the state’s call for a 15% voluntary reduction in water use.

San Diego County residents and businesses can continue WaterSmart practices this fall by following these simple and easy tips to save water. 

Simple Water Saving Tips For Fall

Find a discount. Take advantage of rebates on products that help reduce indoor and outdoor water use. 

Shorten the shower. Keep showers to five minutes or fewer and save 2.5 gallons per minute.

Go low. Install aerators on faucets and low-flow showerheads to instantly save water every time you turn the tap.

Deploy the drip. Irrigate gardens with drip systems that minimize water waste by delivering water right at the roots.

Get smart. Install weather-based irrigation controllers in your landscape to take advantage of the latest smart technology that maximizes water-use efficiency.

Monitor the moisture. Use moisture meters to determine when and how much water plants need.

Embrace the broom. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, and patios.

Check your water footprint. Use an online water-use calculator to assess how much water your home uses compared to a WaterSmart home. 

Turn to a pro. When it’s time to hire a landscaping professional, start with the list of Qualified Water-Efficient Landscapers who can make sure you are making the most of every drop.

Plant with perfection. Check out all the beautiful WaterSmart plant options that pair perfectly with San Diego County’s Mediterranean climate. 

For more tips, resources and rebates, go to

Vista Irrigation District-governance-tranparency-statewide awards

Vista Irrigation District Honored for Governance and Transparency

The Vista Irrigation District has received two major statewide honors, the District of Distinction Platinum Recognition award and the Transparency Certificate of Excellence.

The District of Distinction recognition is awarded by the Special District Leadership Foundation to special districts that show their commitment to good governance, transparency, prudent fiscal policies and sound operating practices. The district originally obtained its accreditation in 2009 and just received its most recent reaccreditation.

District of Distinction – governance and transparency

Platinum recognition is the highest level of recognition for a district and requires completion of all Special District Leadership Foundation programs demonstrating a comprehensive approach to excellence in district administration and government; the district is one of only ten special districts statewide to obtain District of Distinction Platinum recognition.

Transparency Certificate of Excellence

In addition to the District of Distinction award, the district received the Transparency Certificate of Excellence in recognition of its efforts to promote transparency in operations and governance to the public; 145 special districts in the state have received this certificate.

There are over 2,000 independent special districts in the state of California that provide essential services such as water, sewer, fire protection, and parks and recreation.

Both the District of Distinction and Transparency Certificate of Excellence awards require the district to meet numerous criteria, including training elected officials and staff, adopting financial, public information and conflict of interest policies, properly conducting and communicating open and public meetings, performing outreach efforts to constituents, and meeting twenty different website requirements.

The awards were presented at the recent California Special District Association annual conference.

The Special District Leadership Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California special districts through certification, accreditation and other recognition programs.

Vista Irrigation District is a public agency governed by an elected five-member board. The district provides water service to roughly 135,000 people in the city of Vista, and portions of San Marcos, Escondido, Oceanside, and unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

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

Blue animated water drop

New Digital Water Education Workbook Makes a Splash

The San Diego County Water Authority today released an interactive, digital workbook to help upper elementary students learn about the region’s most precious natural resource: water.

The online digital water education workbook is the latest addition to the Water Authority’s long-running education program that has helped instill water knowledge in hundreds of thousands of students in over more than two decades. It was funded by a grant from the Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust and State of California, Proposition 84 Round 4 funds.

Digital Water Education Workbook

There are eight learning modules in the workbook, which is free for all teachers and students in the San Diego region. The curriculum is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, which are used by schools throughout the state.

Water Cycle Graphic

In the workbook, students can learn about important water-related topics such as the water cycle, San Diego County water supplies, bodies of water, and water-use efficiency. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Blue, an animated, effervescent water drop is the main character who leads students on a journey to learn about topics such as the water cycle, San Diego County’s water supplies, states of water, bodies of water, water and wastewater infrastructure, and careers in the water industry.

“Schools have relied heavily on virtual learning over the last 18 months, and the Water Authority has also adapted our education programs to virtual options to ensure that students can continue learning about important topics like water,” said Denise Vedder, Public Affairs Director at the Water Authority. “We realized there was a need for a comprehensive and interactive water education resource that students can access wherever they are learning. We are grateful to the state and the Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust for their generous support of this important learning tool.”

Novus Origo, a veteran-owned company based in Vista, California, provided graphic design, animation, and web development services.

In addition, Water Authority staff collaborated with partners such as the San Diego County Office of Education, Fleet Science Center, local teachers, and the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies.

The workbook and other water education resources are available at

Efficient irrigation-landscaping-Conservation Corner aspects of sustainable landscaping can help you ensure the success of your project. Photo: Water Authority

Efficient Irrigation Delivers Water While Protecting Plants

Due to the lack of rainfall in the San Diego region, even sustainable landscaping sometimes relies on artificial irrigation. Irrigation systems must be thoughtfully designed, installed, and programmed. Once in place, the many interconnected mechanical elements must be maintained properly for optimal performance.

“Irrigation efficiency” is a way of describing how well your irrigation system is doing its job delivering water for the beneficial use of the plants in your landscaping.

When irrigation system efficiency isn’t maximized, it can cause you to use more water than needed. Possible problems fall in three major categories: site conditions in your landscaping, irrigation control, and the uniform distribution of water by your irrigation system.

How to maximize irrigation impact

You may want to get help planning your irrigation system from a qualified professional. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

There are three ways to improve your irrigation system efficiency:

  • Smart Irrigation Management
  • State of the Art System Upgrades
  • Matching Irrigation to Your Hydrozones

Setting and forgetting your irrigation controller is a thing of the past. Even if you don’t have a “smart” irrigation controller to adjust your program for weather conditions, be more proactive in managing your watering, and more closely try to match your watering schedule with the actual water needs of your landscaping.

Upgrading your system with state-of-the-art components is a good investment and the single most significant thing you can do to save water.

Tips on professional help

You may decide to get professional help with your irrigation system. Look for designers or contractors qualified to provide these services. Credentials such as the Irrigation Association’s Certified Irrigation Designer designation can help assure your project will be successful. You can also ask if your contractor is a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL).

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

Carlos Quintero-Sweetwater Authority-General Manager

Carlos Quintero is New Sweetwater Authority General Manager

Carlos Quintero was appointed as General Manager of the Sweetwater Authority. He starts his new position September 27.

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board approved Quintero’s contract at its September 8 meeting.

“After a highly-competitive recruitment process, the Governing Board is excited to have Carlos Quintero joining the Authority as General Manager,” said Governing Board Chair Hector Martinez. “His extensive experience in the water industry will serve him well in his new role. We look forward to working with him and continuing the Authority’s mission to serve the community.”

Carlos Quintero

Quintero is a registered Professional Engineer (PE), MIT Graduate and is currently the Operations Manager for the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority in Riverside, California. He has 24 years of water industry experience.

“I am honored to have been appointed General Manager by the Sweetwater Authority Governing Board,” said Carlos Quintero. “I look forward to working closely with our Board of Directors and staff to continue implementing the Board’s priorities and further the Authority’s mission of providing a safe and reliable water supply to its current and future residents and businesses.”

Assistant General Manager Jennifer Sabine has been serving as the Interim General Manager during the recruitment.

Investment in education

Sweetwater Authority invests in the education of students in its service area to foster knowledge and appreciation for the value of water, and to bring awareness to the vital service the Authority provides to its customers and community.

The Authority, the Otay Water District, and the Chula Vista Elementary School District, recently announced that a new display will be added to the Chula Vista Hydro Station. The Hydro Station opened two years ago on August 15, 2019, at the Richard A. Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility. The Sweetwater Authority and CVESD worked together to create the new display for students.

Sweetwater Authority is a public water agency providing safe, reliable water to National City, Chula Vista and Bonita.

(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.)

Healthy trees provide tremendous environmental and community benefits, and require a minimal investment in water to stay healthy. Photo: Valiphotos / Pexels tree care tips

Tree Care Tips Preserve Benefits During Drought  

Trees are among the most valuable investment in San Diego County’s landscape – including your own waterwise landscaping. Trees stand out as key performers in your landscape design for multiple reasons. No other landscape plant offers greater benefits to your landscape and the greater environment.

Investing in tree maintenance is vital to keep them healthy. As you reassess your landscaping’s irrigation needs during extended periods of drought, allocate sufficient water to your trees, which will in turn provide multiple benefits.

Trees need time to grow and reach maturity. Saving water in the short term during a drought could result in damaged or dead trees, which could take decades to restore. According to the San Diego Regional Urban Forest Council, the cost of watering a mature tree is less than $20 each year. It can cost $1,000 to remove a dead tree. Taking care of your trees during drought ensures a tremendous return on this investment.

Multiple long-term benefits from trees

Healthy trees fight climate change and cool our cities, provide habitat, and improve the health of our neighborhoods. Photo: Kampus Production / Pexels

In the region’s dry and increasingly warming Mediterranean climate, trees help fight climate change. Trees counteract the urban heat island effect, especially in areas dominated by hardscapes such as streets, sidewalks, and building roofs. The evapotranspiration from tree leaves cools the ambient temperature down, much as perspiration lowers a person’s body temperature. Watering your trees also reduces the water needs of plants growing in their shade.

Trees provide habitat for insects, pollinators, birds, and animals – and human beings with their welcoming shade and protection. Placed properly, shade trees can reduce the use of air conditioning from 20% to 50%. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. California street trees alone save the amount of electricity it would take to air condition 530,000 households every year.

Trees protect your property, and studies show the presence of trees improves property values. Neighborhoods with more trees have lower crime rates. In business districts, trees attract customers. People linger and shop longer when trees are present. Sales rise and benefit the entire economy.

Prevent wildfire risks with healthy trees

Even the strictest drought restrictions allow for watering trees on residential and commercial properties. Photo: Helix Water District tree care tips

Even the strictest drought restrictions allow for watering trees on residential and commercial properties. Photo: Helix Water District

When trees die off due to drought, they become wildfire safety risks in addition to losing their many environmental and economic benefits. While any plant might die off without sufficient water, it may grow back within weeks. Drought stress can make living trees more susceptible to diseases and pests.

Even the strictest drought restrictions allow for watering trees on residential and commercial properties. The preferred method is to use a slow-release method such as a perforated bucket or low-volume non-spray irrigation.

Effective ways to water trees

When watering your trees, water along the dripline below the canopy edge, not at the trunk. Diagram: San Diego Regional Urban Forestry Council tree care tips

When watering your trees, water along the dripline below the canopy edge, not at the trunk. Graphic: San Diego Regional Urban Forestry Council

Trees need deep infrequent watering. Once established, once a month in the summer and during months without measurable rainfall is sufficient.

  • Newly planted trees: For the first three years, water once weekly with up to five gallons of water.
  • Small, established low water trees need only about 20 gallons a month. This is the same amount of water in a single average shower.
  • Larger, mature low water trees need up to 200 gallons per month.
  • Monitor the soil moisture under your tree and adjust amounts accordingly. You may want to use a soil probe to check at the roots.
  • Apply water at the edge of the tree’s canopy, not at the trunk. This is where the roots absorb and bring water into the tree.

Trees create community. They provide inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation in our neighborhoods and contribute to playgrounds and parks. San Diego enjoys a perfect example right in the heart of the city. One of our greatest civic attractions is Balboa Park, full of beautiful trees planted by visionaries like Kate Sessions a century ago.

Find additional advice from the San Diego Regional Urban Forests Council on tree care and drought.

Saving water-water bank-Conservation Cornerrainy day can be used later. Photo": Werner Jukel / Pixabay Bank your water savings

Bank Your Water Savings for the Future

Using landscape irrigation efficiently can significantly reduce overall household water consumption while leaving adequate water in the ground to cover your plants’ needs. One tool that can help is to build up your water savings when rainfall is available.

Approximately half of the water spent by average California homes is used outdoors, mostly for irrigation. Unfortunately, up to half of commercial and residential irrigation water is squandered by evaporation, wind, improper system design, or overwatering, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

During the winter in metropolitan San Diego County, healthy soil can absorb water in surprisingly large quantities to be released slowly to plants as they use it during drier months – like using a savings account to pay for expenses over time.

There haven’t been many opportunities in recent years to do so. However, whenever it is possible, there is no need to use the residential water supply on your landscaping when Mother Nature can bank water savings deposits for you.

Balance your water bank account 

Maximize your landscaping soil's ability to retain and save rainfall and irrigation for drier days. Photo: D. Douk/Creative Commons

Maximize your landscaping soil’s ability to retain and save rainfall and irrigation for drier days by creating a water savings account. Photo: D. Douk/Creative Commons

Water entering the soil – whether as rain or as irrigation – is like a deposit into a soil checking account.

By keeping track of those transactions of water in and water out, it is possible to know how much water in the soil “reservoir” is available in the landscape at any given time for the plants to access.

The initial soil bank balance is determined by direct observation or is assessed after a thorough wetting of the soil by irrigation or winter rains. Every day, plants take small amounts of water from the soil. Rain and irrigation fill up the water bank again. The trick is to make sure this “account” does not get overdrawn.

How can you tell when the account is depleted? Smart irrigation controllers and landscape professionals can calculate this for you. You can also rely on a soil probe, or even testing the landscape by feeling the soil surface with your fingers.

When oxygen and water are balanced in the soil, the amount of water lost through evapotranspiration is similar to paying fees on your savings account. Shading the soil surface with plant materials and mulch protects water in the soil by slowing evapotranspiration and leaving more water in your soil’s account.

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

John Carroll worked as the senior wastewater operations supervisor of the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where he oversaw the operation of the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility. Photo: City of San Diego Pure Water San Diego

National Awards for Pure Water San Diego’s John Carroll

John Carroll, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Treatment Plant superintendent, received the 2021 Robert O. Vernon Membrane Plant Operator of the Year Award from the American Membrane Technology Association and the American Water Works Association.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to water supply improvement by an individual working at a membrane filtration, desalination, and/or water reuse facility. Carroll was selected in recognition of his service and dedication to membrane operations and for his leadership within the industry.

“My selection would not have been possible without the support of many dedicated and talented individuals, the fellow coworkers, consultants, and volunteers to whom I owe all my success,” said Carroll.

Carroll plays key role in Pure Water Demonstration Facility

John Carroll will become Pure Water San Diego's first superintendent. Photo: City of San Diego

John Carroll will become Pure Water San Diego’s first superintendent when it is completed. Photo: City of San Diego

Carroll worked as the senior wastewater operations supervisor of the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where he oversaw the operation of the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility.

“When Pure Water came along, we needed staff to step up,” said Tom Rosales, Assistant Director for the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “John established protocols and procedures. He participated in training incoming staff. He led public tours. I can’t overstate his involvement from day one.”

From student to teacher

“Since I had no operational experience with Advanced Water Treatment technologies prior to my role at the City’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility, my approach was that of a student, with the caveat of knowing I would need to become a teacher out of necessity to build our internal knowledge,” said Carroll.

In July, Carroll was promoted to be the first superintendent of the North City Pure Water Facility, currently under construction. It is the latest step in a career that started with a part-time job in the City’s Lakes Division. He studied water and wastewater treatment at Palomar College and completed the Water Authority’s Regional Water/Wastewater Internship Program in 2009, launching his career with the City of San Diego in plant operations.

“The encouraging and supportive public servants I’ve met throughout my career continue to add to my sense of community here,” said Carroll. “Ultimately, I like to think I am following in my mother’s footsteps who worked at the City’s Otay Water Treatment Plant.”

National award recognizes Pure Water San Diego

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird's eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird’s eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Each year, AMTA confers multiple awards to recognize exceptional individuals and organizations like John Carroll and Pure Water San Diego for their efforts in advancing the understanding and application of membrane technology to create cost-effective and reliable water treatment solutions.

“This is a national award,” noted Rosales. “John’s peers and others agree that he’s deserving of this award. You want someone like John to be on your team to stand it up and lead it.”

“Membrane technology continues to make considerable advances in creating safe, affordable and reliable water treatment solutions because of industry innovators and a dedicated network of forward-thinking membrane professionals,” said Jill Miller, AMTA President.

The award is named after the late Dr. Vernon, a professional geologist who contributed to water resources management at various levels of state and federal government in Florida and who was a former president of the American Water Works Association.

This year’s winners were announced at the 2021 Membrane Technology Conference hosted in West Palm Beach, Florida in July.

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

Compost-Conservation Corner-sustainability-WaterSmart-sustainable landscaping

Become a Compost Champion

Once your sustainable landscape makeover is in place, commit to best practices in maintenance. This includes regular composting.

Compost can also be used as mulch, applied directly to the soil surface. It can prevent erosion and help plants, and soil filter pollution, especially hydrocarbons and metals from road surfaces. Most greenwaste-based composts can be applied to a depth of three inches. Composted biosolids should be no deeper than two inches.

If you don’t produce your own compost on-site, it should be obtained from a reputable source that guarantees high quality. Commercially produced compost quality can vary significantly due to the diverse nature of feedstock, composting processes, and maturation standards.

Using compost as a soil amendment

For native plants in your sustainable landscaping, use roughly 15 percent compost by volume to repair disturbed or damaged soils.

Clay-based soil amended with compost will lead to more productive and healthy plant growth at a lower cost than amending the same soil with the necessary 45 percent sand.  In general, poor soils that are compacted, lifeless, or subsoils should be amended with three to six cubic yards or high-quality compost per 1,000 square feet to improve soil structure,

Biosolids-based composts should be used sparingly if they are high in ammonium nitrogen.

How do you know when it’s ready to use? Your compost is ready to use when it has an earthy smell, when it’s cooled off, and when it doesn’t reheat when stirred. The color should be uniformly dark brown or even black. You shouldn’t be able to identify any of the original particles.

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 

Climate Change-drought-San Vicente Reservoir in San Diego County

Drought, Water Supply and Climate Change in the San Diego Region

An update on San Diego’s water supply during the current drought, and how climate change affects regional weather, was the main focus of a recent event sponsored by several organizations.

The Citizens Water Academy, Leaders 20/20 and San Diego Green Drinks hosted a lunch and learn session August 17 that also provided details on how weather and climate impacts water supplies, and how prepared the San Diego region is for drought impacts.

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Warning Coordination Meteorologist Alex Tardy spoke to nearly 90 participants via Zoom.

Climate change impacts and drought

Tardy kicked off the event with an overview of how climate change and drought impact regional weather conditions, and what this means for the region’s water supplies.

“Just here in Southern California, we have extreme heat, extreme precipitation and extreme drought,” said Tardy. “In talking about climate and climate extremes, we are not just talking about the obvious ones like temperature, we are also talking about other impacts like more intense storms, more frequent return of droughts and less normalcy.”

His presentation included highlights of how the past several years have included multiple weather extremes, ranging from wettest single days on record to the hottest and driest years. These included precipitation extremes of varying types and impacts, many of which were fueled by El Niño and La Niña weather patterns. Lack of precipitation and increased evaporation have led to record low water supplies in many reservoirs.

Regional drought preparedness

Kerl spoke about drought concerns throughout the Southwest, which include reduced local water supplies, reduced state supplies and Colorado River supply concerns. Governor Gavin Newsom has asked for voluntary 15% reductions in water use and commonsense conservation measures, which are habits already hard-wired in most San Diego County residents.

“The really good news here in our community is that we are prepared for multiple-year droughts – we have sufficient supplies for 2021, and that’s what water bills go to pay for: safe and reliable supplies,” said Kerl. “It’s also important to note that residents and businesses are hard-wired to conserve – the practices are ingrained in the community. Today we use 50% less per capita per day than we did 30 years ago.”

Kerl also highlighted that our region’s diverse water supplies include drought-resistant sources such as desalinated water, and that the San Diego region is prepared and has enough supplies for multiple dry years.

weather extremes in Southern California

Throughout recent years, Southern California has experienced different types of weather extremes that have impacts on water supplies. Photo: Alex Tardy, NOAA/NWS.

Citizens Water Academy

The Citizens Water Academy provides an opportunity for emerging leaders and professionals in the San Diego region to learn about critical projects and programs related to water. Through the academy, the Water Authority seeks to expand and sustain a diverse network of influencers who are willing to serve as ambassadors on water issues and expand knowledge about the region’s water industry. To learn more, go to

Leaders 20/20 is a young professionals network that aims to drive civic engagement to ensure a high quality of life in the San Diego region. Leaders 20/20 provides education on important issues affecting the environment and economy and helps professionals build connections to industry leaders:

San Diego Green Drinks is a social networking group of professionals in the environmental field who attend events to meet industry professionals, find employment or employees, develop new ideas, discuss issues and solve problems.

Watch a recording of the event, starting with Alex Tardy: