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The El Camino Real infrastructure improvement project has reached its midway point and will be complete in Spring 2021. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

El Camino Real Infrastructure Project Reaches Milestone

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District project to replace aging water infrastructure along El Camino Real in Encinitas has now reached the halfway point. After getting underway in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the project is making steady progress. District officials expect the entire project to be completed in Spring 2021.

During the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project, OMWD is replacing approximately 4,700 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter potable water pipeline along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Garden View Road, and approximately 650 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter pipeline between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive. Water service lines and fire hydrant laterals served by the existing pipelines are also being replaced.

The two pipelines were originally installed in 1961 and 1974, and were fast approaching the end of their lifespan.

El Camino Real infrastructure project – ensuring water supply reliability

The pipeline replacement will reduce water loss and prevent emergency shutdowns due to leaks. This is vitally important for water conservation and to ensure water supply reliability for businesses and residents.

“OMWD has a robust water loss prevention program in place which reduces costs associated with water loss and emergency repairs in addition to conserving one of our most precious resources,” said OMWD Board Director Christy Guerin. “This project is a big undertaking, but it is absolutely important to the health and safety of the community.”

Bike lane striping reduces inconvenience to residents

The El Camino Real infrastructure project will work through five phases and is expected to be completed by Spring 2021. Graphic: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“OMWD and the city work closely together to find opportunities like these where we can streamline projects and reduce the inconvenience  they may cause to residents,” said Guerin, who is also the vice chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and former Encinitas mayor and councilmember.

Bike lanes included in El Camino Real infrastructure project

The pipeline replacement is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The City of Encinitas’ green bike lane portion of the project will begin at that time.

The green bike lane portion of the project will provide traffic calming measures, including improvements to safety and mobility for bicyclists along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard by restriping and narrowing travel lanes. In addition, green-colored striping will augment some areas on the bike lanes and new signage and pavement markings will be installed.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is implementing the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas as an efficiency measure, which is taking place concurrently with the pipeline replacement project.

Collaboration on infrastructure improvements

The two agencies have combined what would normally be two separate, unrelated infrastructure improvement projects into a single effort to improve operational efficiency and reduce the temporary inconvenience of disruptions to area residents and businesses.

“These improvement projects are important for the continued success and safety of the surrounding areas,” said Encinitas Councilmember Joe Mosca. “We understand that anytime you are working in the road, especially in high-traffic areas, there can be traffic and noise impacts. That is why the City of Encinitas and OMWD are working together closely to minimize the time we need to be out there and keep any impacts to the public at a minimum.”

Overnight work

As daytime traffic has returned to normal levels, the City of Encinitas requested work hours be shifted back to overnight. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

As daytime traffic has returned to normal levels, the City of Encinitas requested work hours be shifted back to overnight. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

At the start of the project, Encinitas requested that work be done at night to further reduce traffic impacts. During the stay-at-home order, work could be completed during daytime hours due to significantly reduced traffic levels. However, as traffic has returned to normal levels, the City requested work hours be shifted back to overnight.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District officials continue to work closely with Encinitas officials to monitor the project’s impact on traffic on a week-by-week basis and modify the schedule as needed. Both public agencies and the project contractor Teichert Energy and Utilities Group continue to adapt and respond to opportunities to mitigate impacts to the surrounding community while maintaining efficiency.

Project updates are on the water district’s website.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Olivenhain Municipal Water District and Its Technician Dominic Brunozzi Recognized in Statewide Awards Program

Encinitas, Calif.— Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Pump/Motor Technician Dominic “Bruno” Brunozzi has been named California Water Environment Association’s “Mechanical Technician of the Year.” Mr. Brunozzi was recognized for his dedication to public service and mechanical expertise prior to CWEA’s virtual annual conference that began today.

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Water Authority to Host Public Session on Economics of Regional Conveyance Study

The San Diego County Water Authority will host an online public information session on Oct. 27 about economic considerations related to the proposed Regional Conveyance System. The virtual event will run from 10 a.m. to noon. To reserve a spot, email .

Meeting participants can:

  • Learn about alternatives the Water Authority Board of Directors is studying to secure San Diego County’s future water supplies
  • Ask the experts about key issues
  • Understand the feasibility and costs of building a conveyance system to deliver San Diego County’s Colorado River supplies
  • Discuss potential next steps

In June of 2019, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved a study of the viability of a new regional conveyance system that would deliver water from the Colorado River to San Diego County and could provide multiple benefits across the Southwest.

Regional Conveyance Study

The Phase A report, released in August 2020, found that building a new conveyance system to transport the region’s supplies from the Quantification Settlement Agreement is cost-competitive with other long-term strategies for meeting the region’s water needs.

At its August 2020 meeting, the Water Authority’s Board decided to continue the regional discussion about the study until November 19, at which time the Board is expected to decide whether to move ahead with Phase B of the study.

To learn more about the Regional Conveyance System Study or to read the executive summary and the full report, go to sdcwa.org/colorado-river-supplies-management.

Potential pipeline routes

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A study of a new regional water conveyance system to deliver high-priority Colorado River supplies from the Imperial Valley shows three potential routes to move the water. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Each of the potential conveyance routes would connect to the tail end of the All-American Canal where it meets the Westside Main Canal in the southwest corner of Imperial Valley.

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Water Agencies Assist in Fighting Valley Fire

The Sweetwater Authority and the Otay Water District collaborated with multiple agencies during the recent Valley Fire in San Diego County. Water infrastructure played a key role in the firefighting effort.

Cooperation and collaboration are critical elements during wildfires. Both water agencies worked with multiple responders, including U.S. Forest Service firefighters, CALFIRE and SDG&E, to ensure the safety of crews and keep a safe, reliable water supply flowing for their customers.

The Valley Fire started September 5, southeast of Alpine in the Cleveland National Forest. Before it was fully contained on September 24, the wildfire burned 16,390 acres and destroyed at least 30 homes, according to officials with the Cleveland National Forest.

Loveland Reservoir plays key role in firefighting efforts

Water agency infrastructure, employees and the public were directly threatened. The fire started in Alpine near the Sweetwater Authority Loveland Reservoir. Employees and anglers at the reservoir had to be evacuated.

Reservoir water was used throughout the firefighting efforts. Designated as critical infrastructure, Loveland was protected by fire crews, who used bulldozers on the property to create fire breaks.

Sweetwater Authority also made water tankers available to provide drinking water to crews and other agencies working the fire.

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A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Valley Fire near Alpine in September 2020. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Infrastructure at Loveland Reservoir to protect water quality and provide for recreation was protected and did not sustain damage during the fire.

“We are grateful to the firefighters who worked tirelessly to protect Loveland Reservoir,” said Sweetwater Authority General Manager Tish Berge. “This reservoir is crucial in providing local water and keeping water rates low for our customers.”

The region was in the early stages of a prolonged heatwave when the fire started. The San Diego Union-Tribune reporters covering the fire wrote on September 5:

El Cajon hit 114 degrees and Alpine reached 113 — the highest temperatures ever recorded in those communities — while Ramona got to 112 and San Diego State University topped out at 105, according to the National Weather Service.

By Saturday night, fire fighters were working to control a wildfire that grew to more than 1,500 acres in the rural Japatul Valley area of East County, threatening homes and forcing evacuations.

“We’re throwing everything at it,” said Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser, as teams used helicopters and air tankers to make water drops. “It is going to be an extreme-attack fire. It is nothing we are putting out tonight.”

Otay Water District urges energy conservation

The Otay Water District safely curtailed electric power at its facilities during the Valley Fire as requested by SDG&E to help alleviate fire and weather concerns.

In addition to the prolonged heatwave and the Valley Fire, SDG&E continued to monitor potential high fire risk weather conditions. Those conditions may have forced SDG&E to shut off power to reduce the risk of a wildfire. Prior to the Valley Fire, Otay encouraged customers in its service area to safely conserve energy.

“We believe that any actions a local water agency like the Otay Water District can take to help SDG&E during heatwaves and the fires contributes to the region’s safety as a community,” said Otay Water District General Manager Jose Martinez.

Fighting wildfires involves cooperation from many agencies. The Valley Fire is another example of how water agencies, and water infrastructure, are key parts of those efforts. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Area covered by the Valley Fire in San Diego County, September 2020. Graphic: InciWeb

Olivenhain Municipal Water District's #WhatIsThatThing social media campaign informs ratepayers about water infrastructure in the community. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Olivenhain Social Media Solves Water Infrastructure Mysteries

If you’ve ever driven past pipes sticking out of the ground and wondered, “What is that thing?” you aren’t alone. While sitting at a red light one day, Olivenhain Municipal Water District Customer Services Manager John Carnegie glanced at a pipe and realized there were probably members of the public who are unaware of the role key water infrastructure objects in their neighborhoods play in delivering safe, reliable water.

“OMWD’s #WhatIsThatThing social media campaign is a great way to inform our customers who may be unaware of all the water and wastewater infrastructure around them,” said OMWD Board Secretary Bob Kephart. “It’s a fun way to create a better understanding of the district’s work.”

Water infrastructure mysteries

“It’s easy to forget the long path it takes to get safe and reliable water to your tap,” said OMWD Board President Ed Sprague. “Most people think only as far as their water meter, not to the infrastructure all around them.”

Posts feature a photo and description provided by Olivenhain field service technicians who are out in the district working on service assignments. District spokesman Arman Tarzi says they pass contributions along when they see something the public might want to know more about.

“Our field services staff are happy to contribute ideas and are strong partners in this project,” said Tarzi.

#WhatIsThatThing provides community education

Tarzi said the images help members of the community understand how infrastructure in their area functions.

“For example, you might see a pipe with water coming out of it, and think its leaking,” he said. “But it may be a vault relief doing its job properly, so the social media campaign can help relieve concerns while providing information in a fun way.”

Tarzi said as the public increasingly engages in outdoor activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the public may be curious of all the infrastructure around them, which is maintained by OMWD’s essential employees.

“The #WhatIsThatThing creates an appreciation for everything OMWD does to build and maintain our water infrastructure,” said Kephart. “With these posts, we are showing that water infrastructure is everywhere and OMWD is always proactive in maintaining our system.”

#WhatIsThatThing? Inside this tan enclosure is a 2-inch Air Relief Valve that is installed on the distribution water main. The purpose of this valve is to release air pockets that collect at each high point of a fully pressured pipeline. Water infrastructure is all around you!

Posts in the #WhatIsThatThing social media series began appearing on Olivenhain’s Facebook and Twitter accounts in June. The next posts are scheduled this week.

The Vallecitos Water District Twin Oaks Reservoir dual solar panel array is expected to be completed in November 2020. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Solar Project

Solar Project Saves Energy, Costs for Vallecitos Water District

The Vallecitos Water District is pursuing greater use of renewable resources, increasing capacity to the electrical grid, and reducing long term operational costs with an innovative solar power project.

The west solar array is installed on top of the Vallecitos Water District’s 33-million gallon reservoir with 2,300 solar modules and eight 80 kw inverters. The east array is located on top of the 40-million gallon reservoir with 2,900 modules with ten 80 kw inverters. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

In 2017, the Vallecitos Water District Board of Directors agreed to pursue development of districtwide renewable power sources using existing open space to benefit the District and its ratepayers.  The District worked with solar consultants Terra Verde Renewable Partners to evaluate and study the feasibility of three solar port locations. Two projects are now moving forward; two arrays at the pair of Vallecitos owned reservoirs in Twin Oaks, and an array at the (sewer) Lift Station #1, located on San Marcos Boulevard.

The projects are structured under a Power Purchase Agreement. A solar provider designs, builds, and maintains systems for 25 years. In turn, the District receives a reduced electricity rate from SDG&E over the 25-year term at the District’s 13 highest use meters. The District will become owners of the solar system after the 25-year maintenance term expires. No capital investment is required from the District.

“The project is a great benefit to Vallecitos customers,” said Ryan Morgan, Capital Facilities Senior Engineer. “Through our export of power into the electrical grid, we receive bill credits on these power exchanges. The District benefits directly through reduced power costs, and that cost savings is passed down to the customer ultimately in reduced water and sewer rates.”

Multiple stakeholders working together

Vallecitos Water District provides the project sites, working with SDG&E, the solar provider team, the District’s contractors, and the solar maintenance operator. The District’s water professionals work with solar power experts to guide the project through planning, design, and construction as a team.

Over the 25-year term, the District will benefit from a reduced electrical rate of 7.79 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) at its 13 highest use meters. It will also receive a rebate or credit on its export of power to the electrical grid. Savings to the District over 25 years are estimated at $8.3 million, which ultimately results in reduced water and sewer rates for customers. District staff locked in the maximum federal rebate by launching the project in 2019 and meeting a narrow window for grant funding.

Solar panels installed on top of two reservoirs

The Twin Oaks Reservoir dual solar panel array sites prior to installation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District solar project

The Twin Oaks Reservoir dual solar panel array sites prior to installation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The west solar array is installed on top of the District’s 33-million gallon reservoir with 2,300 solar modules and eight 80 kW inverters. The east array is located on top of the 40-million gallon reservoir with 2,900 modules with ten 80 kW inverters. The total production is roughly 3.6 MWh annually, enough to power 340 homes.

Local power conservation remains vital

The Twin Oaks Reservoir dual solar array total production is roughly 3.6 mWh annually, enough to power 340 homes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Twin Oaks Reservoir dual solar array total production is roughly 3.6 mWh annually, enough to power 340 homes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

While the solar power project cannot prevent the potential for power outages due to rolling blackouts, the project helps to add capacity to the power grid when it is needed.

“The District wants to publicly thank Terre Verde Renewable Partners, Holt Renewables, and Kenyon Energy for their valuable roles in the success of this project,” said Morgan.  “We also want to acknowledge the above and beyond effort of the District’s inspections team.”

The Twin Oaks Reservoir dual array is expected to be completed in November 2020. The Lift Station #1 site is expected to be completed in February of 2021.

City of San Diego Saves Nearly $300M for Ratepayers by Refinancing Pure Water Project

San Diego, Calif. – In an important cost-savings agreement, the City of San Diego has refinanced a loan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will save an estimated $293 million for taxpayers as the City’s Public Utilities Department embarks on the first phase of Pure Water San Diego – the largest infrastructure project in City history.

East County Advanced Water Purification Joint Powers Authority JPA Logo

East County Water Supply Project Progresses Forward with Approval of Progressive Design‐Build Agreements

October 1, 2020 – A new water supply for East San Diego County is one step closer to becoming a reality today with the approval of two major Progressive Design Build Agreements for Packages 1 and 2 for the East County Advanced Water Purification Project (East County AWP). Approval of the agreements authorizes the Phase 1 work which includes key design and pre‐construction elements. Phase 1 work for both packages has been approved at a not‐to‐exceed amount of approximately $19.6 million.

San Diego Water Works Website Offers One-Stop Shop for Water Industry Jobs

October 1, 2020 – The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have launched a new website – SanDiegoWaterWorks.org – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location. As the San Diego economy begins recovering from recession, the site features expanded job opportunities and regularly updated information about internships and training opportunities – a true one-stop-shop for anyone interested in a new career or a new role in the water industry.

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San Diego Water Works Website Offers One-Stop Shop for Water Industry Jobs 

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have launched a new website – SanDiegoWaterWorks.org – that provides the first comprehensive posting of regional water and wastewater industry job openings in one location.

As the San Diego economy begins recovering from recession, the site features expanded job opportunities and regularly updated information about internships and training opportunities – a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in a new career or a new role in the water industry.

San Diego Water Works was created to help meet the growing need for skilled water industry workers at a time when retirements are reducing the workforce. The site is the result of a regional water industry task force convened to address the “silver tsunami” of Baby Boomers.

“We want to fill the pipeline with new generations of talent,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “This is an industry that can really benefit from people with a diversity of backgrounds and educational experiences.”

Website created to fill openings created by wave of water industry retirements

While some water agencies have reduced hiring during the pandemic, roughly half of the current water industry workforce in the San Diego region will be eligible to retire in the next 15 years and many of those workers are in essential positions. In just the next five years, about 1,400 water and wastewater industry jobs are expected to open across the region. In addition to engineers and plant operators, the industry relies on technicians, accountants, electricians, mechanics, information technology specialists and many other occupations.

“The water industry offers careers that are not only personally and professional rewarding but also are vital for our region,” said Christopher McKinney, the City of Escondido’s Director of Utilities, and chair of the regional task force. “This is a chance to really make a difference in our community.”

San Diego Water Works website-water jobs-water industry

The San Diego Water Works website was created to help meet the growing need for skilled water industry workers at a time when retirements are reducing the workforce.

The San Diego Water Works website includes:

  • Current water and wastewater job postings in the San Diego region
  • Training and education resources, career advice and internship programs
  • Featured jobs that highlight rewarding careers in the water industry
  • Information about special training programs and internships for military veterans

The new website aligns with the priorities of water agencies in San Diego County to help military veterans find jobs in the water and wastewater industry. State legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District was signed into law in 2019, making it possible for veterans to receive credit for their military education and experience when applying for civilian water and wastewater system operator certifications in California.

“More than 15,000 military personnel transition from active duty each year in San Diego County, and many have the skills and experience that match the needs of regional water industry employers,” said Jose Martinez, Otay Water District general manager, U.S. Navy veteran and a member of the regional workforce development task force. “As a veteran, I understand the importance of a website like this; it is a great starting point for veterans to find jobs and training programs as well as to discover what resources are available in the industry.”