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Santa Margarita River Project - FPUD - Camp Pendleton

Santa Margarita River Project to Increase Local Water Supply

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors voted in July to authorize a Local Resources Program Agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Fallbrook Public Utility District for the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project.

The Local Resources Program, managed by MWD, provides funding for local water supply projects. MWD is expected to provide final approval of the project in coming months.

Earlier this year, an agreement between FPUD and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton settled a lawsuit that was filed in 1951 over the right to use water from the Santa Margarita River.

Water from Santa Margarita River would reduce imported water demand

The upcoming groundwater recharge project will improve existing facilities and build new facilities to capture surface runoff from the Santa Margarita River. When water flows are high, the runoff would recharge groundwater basins on Camp Pendleton. New and existing wells and pumps will transfer the groundwater to FPUD, which will treat and deliver it to customers.

Water from the river would reduce FPUD’s demand on imported water and minimize Camp Pendleton’s reliance on imported water.

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. Graphic: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. Graphic: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Project would provide 30% of Fallbrook’s total water supply

Facilities will be constructed by Camp Pendleton and FPUD. Camp Pendleton has already constructed its own bi-directional pipeline and related infrastructure, as part of the project, which received congressional funding.

FPUD will construct groundwater extraction wells, a groundwater treatment plant, pump station, storage tank and conveyance and distribution pipelines among other things. The cost of the project is $54.4 million.

FPUD expects construction of the pipeline and treatment plant will begin this fall and take about two years. When completed, the project is expected to produce an estimated 3,100 acre-feet a year. One-acre foot, the equivalent of 326,000 gallons, can supply the average household needs of 2.5 four-person families for one year.

The project would provide about 30 percent of FPUD’s total water supply and nearly all of Camp Pendleton’s water needs.

Pipeline relining is an efficient technique that extends the lifespan of pipes while minimizing costs and impacts to nearby communities. Photo: Water Authority

Innovative Pipeline 5 Relining Completed

San Diego County Water Authority crews completed relining a segment of Pipeline 5 in Fallbrook and San Marcos in late July, reaching a milestone in a strategic, multi-decade pipeline relining program. The 2.3-mile segment of Pipeline 5 was relined with new steel liners that are planned to last for more than 75 years.

The proactive pipeline relining program is a crucial part of asset management efforts that improve the reliability of San Diego County’s water supplies.

30-year pipeline relining program

Since the relining program began in 1991, nearly 47 miles of pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe have been rehabilitated. This constitutes more than half of the total PCCP in the Water Authority system. The remaining 35 miles are expected to be rehabilitated by 2027.

The Pipeline 5 project was conducted in eight segments to minimize impacts to the nearby communities of Fallbrook and San Marcos.

Proactive measures to protect infrastructure

Pipeline relining is an efficient technique used on long stretches of pipelines. It involves inserting new steel liners into the existing pipes. The new liners can extend the lifespan of the pipe by several decades.

“Relining our existing pipes is quicker and more cost-effective than excavating, removing and replacing an entire pipeline,” said Gary Olvera, senior construction manager at the Water Authority. “In partnership with our member agencies, the Water Authority has developed an efficient and proactive plan to ensure continued water supply reliability for the entire region.”

New steel liners can extend the lifespan of a pipe by several decades. Photo: Water Authority

New steel liners can extend the lifespan of a pipe by several decades. Photo: Water Authority

Innovative technique to minimize impacts

To access Pipeline 5, crews excavated dirt to create eight 25-foot by 60-foot access portals spaced roughly 525 to 2,500 feet apart. During construction, crews eliminated two of the originally planned portals, helping save more than $217,000. Most of the work was then performed underground, inside the pipe.

Once the new liner was installed, the joints were welded together. Then, each new steel liner was coated with a cement mortar lining. Finally, the portals were backfilled, the pipeline was disinfected, and the pipe was put back into service.

A welder works inside the pipe to connect the new joints. Photo: Water Authority

A welder works inside the pipe to connect the new joints. Photo: Water Authority

Maintaining regional water supply reliability

Large-diameter pipelines operated by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies extend approximately 310 miles to convey water throughout San Diego County.

Approximately 82 miles of the pipelines are pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipes. These types of pipes were installed between the early 1960s and late 1980s and some are nearing the end of their service life.

By relining the pipes ahead of time or conducting timely repairs with the latest technology, the Water Authority and its member agencies avoid pipeline failures and improve the reliability of future water supplies.

Establishing unique partnerships with leading technology providers, such as Pure Technologies, has ensured the best available tools are used in the most cost-effective way. Photo: Water Authority

Proactive Partnerships Keep Pipelines in Top Shape

This summer, the Water Authority is partnering with three technology companies to test the condition of the agency’s oldest pipelines forming the First Aqueduct in Valley Center. Technology providers test their new and improved tools on Water Authority and member agency pipes. The tools are then used to assess the condition of those same pipes.

This efficient strategy ensures maximum condition assessment accuracy. The strategy also allows for technology to keep up with what water agencies need and minimizes costs. Targeted repairs and maintenance activities maximize the life expectancy of some of the region’s most critical infrastructure.

Industry leaders in pipeline condition assessment

The Water Authority turned to experienced contractors from the oil and gas industry to effectively and efficiently identify corrosion issues on the 70-year-old pipe:

  • Pure Technologies’ regional headquarters in San Diego brought its near-field electromagnetic inspection expertise to assess low-pressure portions of the reinforced concrete pipelines using the PipeWalker® tool.
  • Pipeline Inspection and Condition Analysis Corp. (PICA) from Edmonton, Alberta, assessed medium-to-high pressure zones on a similar type of pipe construction that includes an additional steel cylinder. Their Electromagnetic Inspection Tool (EMIT®) was deployed to find areas of distress and corrosion.
  • Diakont, based in Carlsbad, deployed two of their unique RODIS® robotic tools to use laser profilometry and Electromagnetic Acoustic Transducer (EMAT) technologies to assess thick steel pipe in the highest-pressure zones.

About a quarter of the planned work has been completed. The remainder is scheduled over the next 18 months.

Outstanding record of innovation

For more than 20 years, the Water Authority has been developing innovative ways to maintain major water infrastructure worth billions of dollars.

Establishing unique partnerships with leading technology providers has ensured the best available tools are used in the most cost-effective ways. And, the strategic partnerships allow operations and maintenance teams to extend the lifespan of pipes as well as prevent failures.

In addition to extending pipeline lifespan, high-tech inspection tools are part of a proactive maintenance and repair process by reliably detecting pipeline anomalies and alerting staff to where potential problems may arise. As the tools travel through pipes, data is collected, downloaded and analyzed by staff. Then specific areas where repairs may be needed are identified. Without accurate data, staff would not be able to identify potential issues within the pipes, which could lead to disrupted service and inflated costs.

All-American Canal

Study to Explore New Regional Water Conveyance System

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors last week approved a contract to study the viability of a new regional water conveyance system that would deliver water from the Colorado River to San Diego County and provide multiple benefits across the Southwest.

The $1.9 million contract was awarded to Black & Veatch Corporation for a two-phase study. The engineering firm conducted similar studies for the Water Authority dating back to 1996 but looked at “single use” in those studies.

“A regional system to move our independent Colorado River supplies from the Imperial Valley directly to San Diego County could be more cost-effective, while also providing multiple benefits for California and the Southwest,” said Kelly Rodgers, director of the Water Authority’s Colorado River Program. “The study will assess the potential for new regional and public-private partnerships and funding opportunities.”

Three potential pipeline routes studied

The Water Authority currently pays the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to transport Quantification Settlement Agreement water through the Colorado River Aqueduct to San Diego.

The pipeline under study would be designed at a capacity to convey the QSA water, which in 2021 will reach its full amount of 280,000 acre-feet of water annually. The current Water Transfer Agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District and the Water Authority continues to 2047. But both agencies can agree to extend the transfer another 30 years to 2077.

Three potential routes for the pipeline will be considered as part of an initial screening of the alternatives during the first phase of the study. The study will also consider elements such as permit and environmental regulations, and risk, cost and economic analysis.

Phase 1 of regional water system study will take one year

The first phase of the study, projected to cost $1.3 million, is expected to be completed in summer 2020. The Board will then determine whether to go forward with phase 2 of the study.

Pending Board approval, the second phase will include the final screening of alternatives based on refinement of site layouts, pipeline alignment and tunneling requirements, and risk, cost and economic analysis. The second phase will cost $590,00 and is expected to take one year to complete.

The Board previously approved funds for this study at its June 27 meeting.

Map indicates three potential routes for a proposed regional pipeline system that would move Quantification Settlement Agreement water directly from the Imperial Valley to San Diego. Two of the routes (the light blue and purple lines) follow a southern route. The third proposed route (shown in both a yellow and darker blue line) follows a northern path. Graphic: Water Authority

Conveyance routes would connect to All-American Canal

As the study gets underway, there are three routes under consideration. Each of those routes would connect to the tail end of the All-American Canal where it meets the Westside Main Canal in the southwest corner of the Imperial Valley.

Two of the routes would follow a southern corridor between the Imperial Valley and San Diego, with one route over the mountains paralleling the U.S./Mexico border and the other tunneling through the mountains. Both routes would end at the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside.

The third and northernmost route would follow the Westside Main Canal toward the Salton Sea, then flow past Borrego Springs, and through the mountains. It would eventually connect to the Water Authority’s Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant in San Marcos.

The pipeline system is one of a handful of visionary ideas being discussed by San Diego County water leaders to enhance partnerships and solutions that make sense locally and more broadly as part of Governor Newsom’s Water Portfolio Program to develop resiliency statewide.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Board to Save Property Owners $2.8 million with Bond Refinancing

Encinitas, Calif.— At its July 24 board meeting, OMWD’s board of directors authorized the refinancing of its Reassessment District 96-1 bonds. The deal closed on July 29 and will reduce repayment costs to property owners within OMWD by approximately $2.8 million.

Fallbrook Public Utility District Logo

One Seat Open on FPUD Board

Fallbrook, Calif. – One seat is open for the Fallbrook Public Utility District board of directors.

Local residents interested in serving on the FPUD board can apply by writing a statement of qualifications that includes name, physical address, contact information and a brief background of education. The deadline to apply is Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. The statement must be delivered to the FPUD office’s board secretary, at 990 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook.

San Diego County Water Authority logo SDCWA

Water Authority Board Endorses Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio

San Diego, Calif. –  The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today unanimously supported Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California’s communities, economy and environment through the 21st century. That order also advanced a single-tunnel project to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta, instead of the two-tunnel project favored by former Governor Jerry Brown.

The Water Authority Board made its backing of the single-tunnel proposal contingent on a project financing plan that treats San Diego County ratepayers fairly through the proper allocation of project costs by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Sweetwater Authority’s Desalination Facility Wins ‘Best Tasting Water’ Award

Chula Vista, Calif. – On Wednesday, July 24, the Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Governing Board was presented with the Southwest Membrane Operators Association (SWMOA) Best Tasting Membrane Water in the Southwest Region Award. The award recognizes the Authority’s Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility as the winner of the Best Tasting Membrane Water Competition held during the SWMOA Annual Symposium in June.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Offers Free Recycled Water to Residential Customers This Summer

Encinitas, Caif. – On July 26, Olivenhain Municipal Water District will re-open its recycled water fill station for the warm summer season, offering free recycled water to its residential customers.

OMWD operates the facility to help customers irrigate during San Diego’s warm season, minimizing potable water demands and assisting customers with lowering their higher summer bills. The fill station, located at Campania Avenue and Camino San Thomas in 4S Ranch, will open Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Melanie and Bob Buck's colorful landscape makeover is the winner of thOMWD 2019 Landscaping Contest. Photo: OMWD OMWD 2019 Landscape Contest

Colorful Carlsbad Water-Efficient Garden Wins Olivenhain MWD 2019 Landscape Contest

Carlsbad residents Melanie and Bob Buck were honored as the 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winners by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District during its July 24 board meeting.

Melanie Buck worked to transform her landscape from large grassy areas and pine trees into a colorful, waterwise landscape design. The landscape now requires less than half of the water she once used. Visually stunning, the landscape also includes welcoming entertainment areas.

The colorful new landscaping can serve as an inspiration to other Carlsbad residents. Photo: OMWD OMWD 2019 Landscape Contest

The colorful new landscaping can serve as an inspiration to other Carlsbad residents. Photo: Olivenhain MWD

Since installing the award-winning landscape, the Bucks have reduced their outdoor water use. They also benefit from far less expensive maintenance costs. Their home demonstrates the beauty of water-efficient landscapes with its vibrant colors and variety of textures using Bougainvillea, striking cactus, succulents, and California native plants and shrubs.

Landscape contest watersmart design serves as inspiration to residents

Melanie and Bob Buck receive their award from Olivenhain MWD board president Ed Sprague. Photo: Olivenhain MWD

“Outdoor watering comprises the majority of residential water use in the region, so landscaping efficiently is of utmost importance,” said Olivenhain MWD board president Ed Sprague. “Ms. Buck’s show-stopping landscape is a prime example of the beauty that water-efficient gardens have to offer.

“This winning design will serve as an inspiration to others in the community to consider creating their own water-efficient gardens,” added Sprague.

The WaterSmart Landscape Contest is held annually by water agencies throughout San Diego County to showcase attractive landscapes that use less water than conventional turf-heavy landscapes. Winning entries exhibit excellence in curb appeal, climate-appropriate plant selection, design, efficient irrigation, and environmental considerations.

The Bucks' winning landscape design includes beautiful outdoor living areas. Photo: OMWD

The Bucks’ winning landscape design includes beautiful outdoor living areas. Photo: Olivenhain MWD

Many residents began working on their winning projects by first attending the Water Authority’s free landscape makeover courses for expert instruction and guidance. The four-course series is held throughout in the year in various convenient locations. Pre-registration is required. For the schedule and to register, go to

Photos of 2019 winners from the 13 participating member agencies throughout the county. as well as previous years’ winners, are at

READ MORE: La Mesa Conservation Garden Wins 2019 Otay Water District WaterSmart Landscape Contest