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Water Districts Offer Discounted Rain Barrels to Save Water

Encinitas, Calif.—To encourage water conservation and reduce runoff that can carry pollutants into local waterways and beaches, Olivenhain Municipal Water District has partnered with Carlsbad Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, and Santa Fe Irrigation District to offer discounted rain barrels to area residents. Rain barrels ordered by February 26 will be available for pick up at Solana Center for Environmental Innovation on March 2, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The center is located at 137 North El Camino Real in Encinitas.

A snow-covered Sierra Nevada Mountain peak to the northwest from the Phillips Station meadow season. Photo: Dale Kolke / California Department of Water Resources snowmelt

Report: Shorter Winters Could Impact Snowpack and Water Supply

New research shows shorter periods of winter weather are altering snowpack melt times, with potentially significant implications for water management and wildfires.

Associate Professor Amato Evan at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography analyzed snowpack data from 1982 through 2017, publishing his analysis in the December Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, and presenting his findings at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Evan found no decline in snowfall totals overall, but he discovered snow in mountainous regions is disappearing earlier in the year – in line with earlier projections and modeling. California and other western states rely heavily on snowfall and snowpack for water. When the snowpack melts, it fills reservoirs, a vital resource for cities and farms.

If snowmelt occurs more quickly than normal, it could result in reservoirs filling earlier in the winter or spring. If that dynamic isn’t managed correctly, it could result in losing water supply when the reservoirs overflow. Evan noted California would be among the most-affected states.

Investments buffer San Diego region

Three decades of investments to diversify the San Diego region’s water supply sources with seawater desalination, recycled water and other supplies have lessened the local impact of snowpack variations, said Dana Friehauf, water resources manager for the San Diego County Water Authority. The San Diego region relies on snowmelt in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, along with a variety of local water resources. In addition, the Water Authority has expanded local water storage by raising San Vicente Dam and more than doubling the reservoir’s capacity. That allows the region to hold more imported supplies during wet years to prepare for dry ones.

“By increasing water-use efficiency and investing in drought-resilient supplies and local storage, the San Diego region is less susceptible to changes in snowmelt,” said Friehauf. “But climatic shifts likely will be an important factor in water management across the West for years to come.”

Researcher observes winter weather declines

Evan used data for his research collected from a network of over 400 snow telemetry sensors across the western U.S. The sensors compress and expand as snow falls and melts, measuring the weight of the snowpack throughout the season. Evan developed a mathematical expression he could apply to the observations which can identify trends in snowpack variations over the course of the winter season.

Evan found two key changes in mountain snowpack consistent across the western U.S. First, warmer fall and spring seasons are “squeezing” winters, making them shorter from a weather perspective.

Second, higher elevations are showing snowpack characteristics normally found at lower altitudes, with a gradual build up and gradual decline. This translates into less snow and earlier melts. While this has been shown in climate model simulations, the Scripps study is the first time it has been observed. Evan’s findings are consistent with numerous other methods of measuring changes in the seasons.

“The power of this work was the ability to examine how and why snowpack is changing throughout the year,” Evan said in a Scripps news release. “In terms of freshwater in the West, the total amount of snow we receive during the year is important, but how long into the spring that snow stays frozen up in the mountains is also critical.”

The Scripps research was supported by funding from the Climate Program Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The California Department of Water Resources conducted the second snow survey of the 2019 season at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The survey site is approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento in El Dorado County. Photo: Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources.

Mid-Winter Storms Drench California, Boost Sierra Snowpack

A remarkable series of winter storms in January and early February has doubled the Sierra Nevada snowpack and recharged reservoirs across the state of California. With more rain and snow in the forecast, California’s water supply picture is far better than it was a year ago, when San Diego received the second-lowest amount of rainfall on record since 1850.

In San Diego County, Lindbergh Field has recorded more than nine inches of rain since October 1, which is nearly the average annual rainfall of 10.33 inches, according to the National Weather Service. More storms are on the way: NWS has forecast more showers in the next few weeks.

Some of the wettest local spots include Mt. Woodson, which received 4.34 inches of rain in the past five days, Lower Oat Flats with 4.08 inches, Rainbow Camp with 3.6 inches, and Fallbrook and Bonsall each with 3.41 inches.

Local rainfall is important, because it allows residents and farmers to reduce or eliminate irrigation for weeks or months at time while Mother Nature does the work. In addition, local surface water meets about 10 percent of San Diego’s annual water needs. From a supply perspective, it is much more important snowpacks continue to grow in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

Water conditions far better than 2018

Surveyors with the California Department of Water Resources recorded 50 inches of snow and a “snow water equivalent” of 18 inches on January 31 at Phillips Station, where DWR has conducted manual snow surveys for decades.

This was the second of five snow surveys planned for this winter. More than 50 agencies at the local, state and federal levels collaborate on the Cooperative Snow Surveys Program to collect snow data from more than 300 locations statewide each year. Results from these surveys are crucial to water management in California.

The most recent survey at Phillips Station showed the snowpack as 98 percent of average to date – just shy of the statewide average. By comparison, on February 1, 2018, measurements at Phillips Station showed a snow water equivalent of 2.6 inches – just 14 percent of the early-February average. Snow water equivalent is a standard metric of how much water is held in snow.

In the Upper Colorado River Basin, conditions are slightly better than they are in California – a good sign for a region that has suffered nearly two decades of drought. Precipitation and snow water equivalent were both at 105 percent of average at the end of January.

No shortages are expected on the Colorado River system in 2019, though long-term drought conditions continue to be a concern across the Southwest.

San Diego well-positioned to meet regional water demands

The National Weather Service reports that between Oct. 1, 2018, and Feb. 6, 2019, San Diego County received more than nine inches of rain at Lindbergh Field, which was 165 percent of normal, and more than 11 inches of rain at Ramona Airport, which was 142 percent of normal.

“This winter is shaping up nicely,” said Jeff Stephenson, a principal water resources specialist at the San Diego County Water Authority. “A well-timed string of storms and cooler temperatures is allowing us to leave water in storage for use during the dry summer months – and it’s important that everyone continue to leave off their irrigation systems while there’s plenty of water in the soil.”

No matter how the winter plays out, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have enough water to meet regional water demands for the foreseeable future. This is made possible by a combination of investments in drought-resilient resources, including the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, conserved agricultural water transfers and continued water-use efficiency measures.

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Learn How to Transform Your Landscape and Increase Water Efficiency at a Free Workshop

Encinitas, Calif.—Olivenhain Municipal Water District and San Dieguito Water District have partnered to offer a free WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop. The event will be held Tuesday, February 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Encinitas Community Center, located at 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive in Encinitas.

Cuyamaca College officially dedicated its new Center for Water Studies and welcomed several dozen guests to an open house at the technology rich learning hub during the recent Women In Water Symposium. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Opening the Doors to Careers in Water

El Cajon,  Calif. – Cecilia Bernal came looking for a career. Essie Mae Horne was focused on occupational advancement. Michaela Maddox-Gomez wanted to explore her options before she graduates from Mt. Carmel High School.

Bernal, Horne and Maddox-Gomez were among the approximately 250 people packing the Center for Water Studies 2nd annual Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways symposium on Jan. 17 at Cuyamaca College. The event included nearly two dozen speakers, a half-dozen panel discussions, inspirational messages from water and wastewater industry administrators, a day’s worth of networking opportunities and a bevy of information tables.

“I’m already learning so much,” said Bernal, 30, who has worked as a waitress, retail clerk and pharmacy technician. “Water and wastewater is an important industry, and it’s definitely more interesting that what I’ve done in the past.”

Retirements Create Room for Job Growth

Women In Water symposium attendees take a tour of the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies training facility. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Women In Water symposium attendees take a tour of the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies training facility. Photo: Cuyamaca College

The opportunities are ample due to an imminent glut of retirements by an aging workforce. Forecasts call for between 1,200 and 1,500 open positions in the next three to four years in San Diego County alone, said Sandy Kerl, the San Diego County Water Authority’s deputy general manager. Forty percent of employees at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District will retire within the next three to five years, said Lisa Sorce, human resources director. Representatives from other utilities presented similar numbers.

“Our industry is experiencing a record number of job openings,” said Sweetwater Authority General Manager Tish Berge. “At Sweetwater Authority, we recruited for almost 10 percent of our workforce just this past year. In addition, water and wastewater jobs are recession-proof, especially working in the public sector. I am excited to show young women that there are great opportunities throughout our industry.”

Maddox-Gomez said she was excited to explore those opportunities.

“This is an area that is really important to our future and to my generation, and I want to learn more about it,” said Michaela, 16, who heard about the symposium from an aunt. “I want to see what kind of options I have.”

Symposium’s Success A Team Effort

Sandy Kerl, deputy general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, was a featured speaker at the Women In Water symposium at Cuyamaca College.

Sandy Kerl, deputy general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority, was a featured speaker at the Women In Water symposium at Cuyamaca College. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways, was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation to promote the career advancement of women in the water industry through community college programs, industry internships, curriculum development, and outreach to high schools, transitioning military and military veterans.

Kerl, the keynote speaker, detailed the technological advances in recent years and noted there are more than 200 unique occupations in the water industry.

“If you want an exciting career, be a part of water,” Kerl said. “If you want to be a part of the future, be a part of water.”

Lisa Sorce, human relations director at Padre Dam Municipal Water District, echoed that theme. “There are so many careers in the water industry. You really have to figure out where you want to go.”

Sorce made the comment during a presentation on preparing for career advancement and promotions. For those looking to advance, Sorce said getting ready to be ready is a must. Among her suggestions: Keep an eye on who is getting promoted and find out why; secure the certifications required for positions drawing your interest; and seek out a mentor.

“Make sure your boss knows what your career plans are,” Sorce added. “Look for ways to pitch in.”

The suggestions were helpful to people such as Horne, who was so inspired by last year’s inaugural event that she recruited friends and co-workers to attend this year’s event, too.

Said Horne: “I’m looking to move forward in my career, I’m looking to network, I’m looking to see what opportunities are out there.”

Forum Topics Something for Everyone

Women In Water symposium participants get a close look at the Cuyamaca College water and wastewater program training facility. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Women In Water symposium participants get a close look at the Cuyamaca College water and wastewater program training facility. Photo: Cuyamaca College

Discussions throughout the day ranged from a question-and-answer session during a general manager’s form, to building leadership skills, to internships, cooperative experience and volunteerism. Following a lunch break, Cuyamaca College officially dedicated its new Center for Water Studies and welcomed several dozen guests to an open house at the technology rich learning hub.

Approximately one-third of the attendees at the symposium were girls from local high schools, and scores sought advice from other attendees from the industry.

“I’ve been doing this kind of work for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Tisa Aguero, a water systems tech supervisor for the City of San Diego Public Utilities. “This event is just amazing.”

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Ed Sprague Named President of OMWD’s Board of Directors for Fourth Time

Encinitas, Calif. —At Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s January 16 board meeting, Ed Sprague assumed the position of president for the fourth time. Mr. Sprague will serve as president for the 2019-2020 term. In addition, Bob Topolovac is serving as vice president, Larry Watt as treasurer, Robert Kephart as secretary, and Christy Guerin as director and San Diego County Water Authority representative.

(L to R) 2019 poster contest winners Madelieine Inawen, Claire Zhang, Kate hu, Alanis Huang, and Weiyi Xu with their winning artwork. Photo: Courtesy City of San Diego

Creative Kids Educate Region About Water Conservation

Eighteen talented San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach elementary school students used their artistic skills to communicate the importance of water conservation in the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department 18th annual Kids Poster Contest.

Winning entries in the contest are featured in the 2019 Water Conservation Calendar, which debuts this month. They are available free for pickup at San Diego city libraries, recreation centers, and at San Diego City Hall, 202 C Street downtown.

The theme “How Am I A Water Conservation Hero?” asked students to imagine themselves saving water from being wasted. They could draw, paint, color, cut and paste original artwork depicting one important message about water conservation. Winning students were honored at a City Council presentation in 2018, and their artwork was featured publicly at the San Diego County Fair and San Diego Watercolor Society Gallery.

“The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is proud to sponsor the yearly Kids Poster Contest,” said Brian Hojnacki, a supervising management analyst for city utilities. “It allows us to involve first to sixth graders through art while learning and thinking about water conservation in our region. It’s a win-win for us all.”

In addition to being recognized as community ambassadors and local conservation celebrities, winners received gift cards as prizes and publication in the new calendar. The winning posters will be displayed throughout the City of San Diego all year.

The contest winners for 2018 whose artwork was used to create the 2019 calendar are:

Grade 1     

1st Place – Ruiya Xia, Solana Ranch Elementary School

2nd Place – Isabella Chen, Solana Ranch Elementary School

3rd Place – Angela Han, Solana Ranch Elementary School

Grade 2

1st Place – Weiyi Liu, Stone Ranch Elementary School

2nd Place – Ella Zhao, Monterey Ridge Elementary School

3rd Place – Tracie Liu, Sycamore Ridge School

Grade 3

1st Place – Rachael Ma, Monterey Ridge Elementary School

2nd Place – Alanis Huang, Solana Ranch Elementary School

3rd Place – Kate Hu, Solana Ranch Elementary School

Grade 4

1st Place – Lauren Chen, Monterey Ridge Elementary School

2nd Place – Abigail Wei, Monterey Ridge Elementary School

3rd Place – Caden Phan, Hardy Elementary School

Grade 5

1st Place – Claire Zhang, Solana Pacific Elementary School

2nd Place – Angela Chen, Monterey Ridge Elementary School

3rd Place – Annika Liao, Del Sur Elementary School

Grade 6

1st Place – Madeleine Irawan, Black Mountain Middle School

2nd Place – Eric Shi, Mesa Verde Middle School

3rd Place – Vicky Xu, Solana Ranch Elementary School

Recycled Water Category Winner

1st Place – Katelyn Chen, Oak Valley Elementary

The 19th annual poster competition for the next calendar is now open to students from first through sixth grade. The theme is “Where Can I Catch The Rain, and What Can I Do With It?”

Winning posters will be featured in the 2020 Water Conservation Calendar. Winners will be honored at a San Diego City Council meeting and have their work displayed at the San Diego County Fair and in the San Diego Watercolor Society Gallery. The entry deadline is March 22, 2019. More information is here.


Otay Water District Board Elects New Officers

Spring Valley, Calif. – At its Jan. 2, 2019 meeting, the Otay Water District Board of Directors elected new Board officers to lead the District’s Board for 2019. The Board elected board member Mitch Thompson, who represents division 2, as president. The Board also elected board member Mark Robak, serving division 5, as vice president.

Thompson’s election as president follows one year of Board leadership under past president Tim Smith. In 2018, Thompson served as vice president of the Board. He has served on the District’s Board since May 2012. Thompson will serve as president through January 2020 when officer elections will again occur.

Contest winners honored at December board meeting: Top row: public affairs officer Noelle Denke, general manager Jack Bebee, board president Al Gebhart. Middle row: Mariana Jimenez, Stephania Miranda, Lexie Graves, Magdaleny Caralampio, America Perez Martinez, Maria Ordonez Rodriguez, Jordyn Jones. Last row: Hudson Quinn, Connor Siegler, Gabriel Velasco, Antonio Jesus. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Young Artists Featured in Fallbrook PUD Conservation Calendar

Fourth-graders from five Fallbrook-area elementary schools put pens, crayons and watercolors to work with the goal of creating the best and brightest water-conservation posters in competition to become part of the 2019 Fallbrook Public Utility District’s “Be Water Smart” calendar.

Two hundred posters demonstrated the students’ enthusiasm and creativity. Out of these entries, 14 were honored in the 2019 calendar.

Gabriel Velasco's entry was chosen by the judges to appear on the 2019 calendar cover. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Gabriel Velasco’s entry was chosen by the judges to appear on the 2019 calendar cover. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

The free calendars are available at the Fallbrook Public Utility District office, 990 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook, during business hours while supplies last.

The pupils’ colorful images vividly depict the contest’s theme, “Be Water Smart.” The district’s panel of judges viewed all the entries to find the most eye-catching artwork that successfully communicated the need for saving water.

Winners recognized at Fallbrook PUD board meeting

The winning fourth-grade artists were recognized at the Fallbrook PUD board of directors meeting on Dec. 10. In addition to being featured in the calendar, each winning artist was presented with their original artwork matted and framed for them to keep. They also received a signed certificate of commendation from the district, along with prizes such as school supplies and gift cards.

First place winner America Perez Martinez receives congratulations from Fallbrook PUD board president Al Gebhart and general manager Jack Bebee. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

First place winner America Perez Martinez receives congratulations from Fallbrook PUD Board President Al Gebhart and General Manager Jack Bebee. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

As a special award, the first-, second- and third-place student artists, plus the cover artist, received a personalized T-shirt with their winning artwork printed on it. Those artists are:

First place: America Perez Martinez, Fallbrook STEM Academy

Second place: Stephania Miranda, Maie Ellis Elementary

Third place: Hudson Quinn, Maie Ellis Elementary

Cover artist: Gabriel Velasco, La Paloma Elementary

Additional monthly winners include Magaly Maldonado, Magdaleny Caralampio, Antonio Jesus, Maria Ordonez-Rodriguez, Mariana Jimenez and America Giles of Maie Ellis Elementary; Jordyn Jones of William H. Frazier Elementary; Connor Siegler, Lexie Graves and Wendy Sanchez Hernandez of La Paloma Elementary.

The annual contest is open only to fourth-graders in the FPUD service area after they complete classroom instruction about water conservation and the water cycle. Students attending Fallbrook STEM Academy, William H. Frazier, La Paloma, Maie Ellis and Live Oak elementary schools submitted entries.

All 14 pieces of artwork will be displayed on the FPUD website. They will also be displayed in the FPUD boardroom through 2019.




City of San Diego’s 19th Annual Kids Poster Content

Calling all first through sixth grade students … the City of San Diiego Public Utilities Department is looking for the next Michaelangelo.  Get your students involved for a chance to be recognized as community ambassadors and local conservation celebrities.