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Day Without Water-San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones hosts a new awareness campaign video to remind residents about the importance of water conservation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Imagine a Day Without Water

San Diego County residents joined Americans across the country marking Thursday, October 21 as “Imagine A Day Without Water.” The nationwide awareness campaign offered opportunities to learn about our nation’s water systems and the hard work that goes into ensuring a day without water doesn’t become a reality for their community.

The day-long event is sponsored by the U.S. Water Alliance, the only national nonprofit organization with a diverse membership base representing the range of water champions, including water utilities, public officials, the business community, environmental organizations, community leaders, policy organizations, and researchers.

Imagine a Day Without Water

The Vallecitos Water District partnered with the City of San Marcos to promote Thursday’s awareness efforts among its residents. San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones starred in a video produced by VWD to highlight its water infrastructure investments. In the video, Mayor Jones encourages residents to conserve water. The San Marcos City Council officially proclaimed October 21, 2021 as “Imagine a Day Without Water.”

Awareness campaign follows drought emergency

California Governor Gavin Newsom extended the state’s drought emergency on October 19, appealing to all Californians to do more to conserve water in the face of one of the state’s most severe droughts on record. The declaration added eight remaining counties, including San Diego County, not under the original declaration made in July.

In the United States, aging infrastructure, intensified weather events, and a lack of investment have kept more than two million residents from accessing safe and reliable water and wastewater services. Member agencies, including the Vallecitos Water District along with the San Diego County Water Authority, continue to develop and maintain safe, reliable water supplies and critical infrastructure through strategic planning, long-term investments, and state-of-the-art technologies.

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

Water infrastructure-Olivenhain Municipal Water District-Base paving along El Camino Real across from Camino Encinitas Plaza, just north of Via Montoro. Photo: OMWD joint project by Olivenhainv

Joint Project By Olivenhain MWD and City of Encinitas Reaches Final Phase

The El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project has reached its final stage. After the Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board approved filing of a notice of completion for the pipeline portion of the project, the City of Encinitas will finish restoring the street and complete new bike lane striping.

The original pipelines were installed in 1961 and 1974 and fast approaching the end of their lifespan. OMWD replaced 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 were also replaced.

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, more important than ever due to drought conditions in the region.

“Proactive maintenance is a big part of what we do,” said Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board President Larry Watt. “Replacing aging infrastructure before it breaks helps to avoid emergencies, which are more costly and more impactful to customers.”

Coordination minimizes community inconvenience

Lowering a section of the new potable water pipe into a trench in El Camino Real joint project by OlivenhainLowering a section of the new potable water pipe into a trench in El Camino Real joint project by Olivenhain

Lowering a section of the new potable water pipe into a trench in El Camino Real. Night work helped minimize the inconvenience to nearby businesses and homes. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

To mitigate the impact to the surrounding community, OMWD coordinated with the City of Encinitas on its green bike lane project along the same route. The District implemented the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas concurrently with the pipeline replacement project as an efficiency measure.

As a result, the two agencies 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.

The bike lane 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.

“It was very important to us from the outset of the project to mitigate its impacts to the community, while also keeping costs down,” said Watt. “To that end, the partnership with the City of Encinitas was critical. They coordinated closely with us every step of the way.”

At the start of the project, the City of Encinitas requested that work be done at night to further reduce traffic impacts. Capitalizing on the reduced traffic as a result of the statewide stay-at-home order, OMWD was able to shift construction to the daytime for a portion of the project. Working during the day is more efficient and safer than night work, and minimized noise impacts to the surrounding neighbors. However, as traffic returned to normal levels, the City shifted work hours back to overnight.

New bike lanes due by December

Dedicated green bike lanes such as this example have an expected December completion date. Photo: Courtesy City of Encinitas

Dedicated green bike lanes such as this example have an expected December completion date. Photo: Courtesy City of Encinitas

The final work effort will include buffered bike lanes on the east and west, and fully restoring three lanes of traffic. Work is anticipated to occur through early December. Traffic controls will be in place during the day and at night with the most significant work occurring at night. Residents and businesses should anticipate lane closures and consider alternative transportation routes.

For questions specific to the City of Encinitas’ Active Transportation Enhancing Project, please email or call 760-943-2211.

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

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Governor Extends Drought Emergency to San Diego County and Encourages Voluntary Conservation; Olivenhain Municipal Water District Remains at Level 1 of Its Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Encinitas, Calif. — In an October 19 proclamation, Governor Newsom extended to Southern California the drought-related State of Emergency that had been declared earlier in the year for other areas of the state. The emergency declaration directed water agencies throughout the state to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plans to preserve water supplies.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District had already activated Level 1 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in 2016. At the Level 1 condition, customers are encouraged to take voluntary actions to reduce water waste, such as promptly fixing leaks, stopping runoff from inefficient irrigation, irrigating only during night and early morning hours, and avoiding washing down paved surfaces.

Water Authority Prepares to Activate Water Shortage Contingency Plan

October 20, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority is preparing to activate Level 1 – Voluntary Conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to sustain California after two record-dry years. The agency’s 36-member Board of Directors will decide at its formal monthly meeting on Oct. 28 whether to activate the drought response plan, following today’s recommendation by staff.

Drinking water-desalination plant-water supply-drought

WaterSmart: Weathering Dry Times in San Diego County

News stories by national and regional media outlets highlighted the investments by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to create a plentiful water supply for the region, helping to weather dry times like the current drought.

The New York Times, Spectrum News 1, The Wall Street Journal and Wired Magazine are among several news organizations that have reported on the region’s water supply projects, current and future, that ensure the 3.3 million residents of the county won’t be left high and dry during times of drought. The news stories also recognize the successful efforts by the region’s residents to significantly reduce water-wasting practices by embracing a “conservation ethic.”

Water supply in dry times

California-based reporter Jill Cowan visited the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant and the San Vicente Reservoir, among other locations, for her article in The New York Times. The news story covers regional water supply projects and investments made by the Water Authority and its member agencies to ensure San Diego County would not be stuck “at the end of the pipe” during periods of drought.

 “There are no silver bullets anywhere,” said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, who noted San Diego’s strides. “They’re definitely in the upper echelon of these creative approaches.”

Chula Vista resident and Sweetwater Authority customer Paul Rodriquez was highlighed in the story as one of many county homeowners who are WaterSmart: Conserving water by yanking out turf for drought-tolerant landscaping and using water-efficient fixtures indoors.

Desalination plant-New York Times-Jill Cowan-Jeremy Cructchfield

San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Manager Jeremy Crutchfield (L) explains the reverse osmosis process to The New York Times Reporter Jill Cowan (R) at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“Let’s Diversify”

Spectrum News 1 Reporter Sarah Pilla wrote about the region’s water supply history and how an historic drought led to investments creating a diverse water supply portfolio:

Back in the drought of the ’90s, 95% of San Diego’s water came from one source, and they faced 30% cuts for 13 months.

“Of course being at the end of a pipeline, when there’s little water available, you are at high risk. So, our community came together and said let’s diversify,” Kerl said.

Fast-forward 30 years later, and the San Diego County Water Authority has multiple streams of water sources in its portfolio, including the groundbreaking Carlsbad Desalination Plant that utilizes ocean water to provide the region with about 10% of its drinking water.

Video and story: https://bit.ly/3DWFM1F

Desalination-Sandra L. Kerl-Sarah Pilla-primary

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra K. Kerl (L) talks with Spectrum News 1 (LA) Reporter Sarah Pilla, at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Diverse portfolio of resources

Wired Magazine writer Matt Simon focused on the science of water recycling and the Pure Water San Diego project.

If that all sounds like a rather convoluted way to get drinking water, that’s because the American West is facing a rather convoluted climate crisis. San Diego—and the rest of Southern California—have historically relied on water from Northern California and the Colorado River. But they’ve always been at the end of the line. The river hydrates 40 million other people in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, and it is withering under a historic drought, a harbinger of even worse water scarcity to come as the climate warms.

So San Diego has to figure out how to do more with less water. The Pure Water program aims to provide more than 40 percent of the city’s water from local sources by the year 2035 by reusing water recycled from homes and businesses. (That means water that has flowed through sinks, showers, toilets, and washing machines.) “We’re diversifying the portfolio,” says Todd Gloria, San Diego’s mayor. “We’re heavily dependent upon water that comes from very far away, and that’s a problem that we have to address.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/30xU8qF

Pure Water San Diego-Wired-Water Supply Portfolio

Pure Water San Diego Associate Engineer Anthony Van guides a virtual tour of the demonstration facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Dry Times and Cutbacks

Reporter Jim Carlton with The Wall Street Journal, visited San Diego County earlier in 2021, reporting on the differences in water supply and drought conditions in California: “California’s Drought Leads to Cutbacks in Marin County but Not in San Diego

The pain of a two-year drought drying up the American West isn’t being felt evenly across the country’s most populous state.

That is because Southern California water agencies have for decades invested in new ways to diversify their supplies and recycle what they get, say people who study and work with water in the West. In Northern California, meanwhile, a history of more plentiful rain and snow meant many communities were less prepared for the latest drought and now more homes and businesses must cut back.

San Vicente Reservoir-Wall Street Journal-Jeff Shoaf

Jim Carlton, reporter with The Wall Street Journal (L) listens as San Diego County Water Authority Principal Engineer Jeff Shoaf describes the San Vicente Dam raise during Carlton’s visit to the San Vicente Reservoir in June 2021. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“Plenty of water”

The Southern California News Group also published an editorial, “SoCal’s water planning offers lesson for state” on October 19:

It’s beyond ironic that the driest, most-populated parts of California are in reasonably good shape whereas the less-populated rainiest parts of the state are in dire straits. San Diego, for instance, had so much water during the last drought that it had to release some of it from its reservoirs. It has plenty of water during this current drought.

Statewide Drought Emergency Declared

(Editor’s note: This story was updated on October 20. The Sweetwater Authority and the City of San Diego are two of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Remains at Level 1 of Its Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Encinitas, Calif. — At its October 13 meeting, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors received an informational report on water supply conditions. OMWD will remain at Level 1 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, which calls for voluntary conservation efforts.

OMWD moved out of a Level 2 Water Supply Shortage condition, which has mandatory water use restrictions, and down to Level 1, on July 20, 2016, as a result of a State Water Resources Control Board order allowing agencies to determine their conservation standard based on the ability to meet demands with existing supplies. Since July 20, 2016, OMWD has remained in Level 1.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Wraps Up Year-Long Construction Project Along El Camino Real

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors unanimously approved today the filing of a notice of completion for the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project. After over a year of collaboration with the City of Encinitas, OMWD has officially turned the project over to the city. The city will now begin the repaving and bike lane striping portion of the project.

Atmospheric Rivers-Water Year 2021-drought-climate

Atmospheric Rivers Left California Mostly Dry in Water Year 2021

The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, or CW3E, at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, released its report October 11 on atmospheric rivers during Water Year 2021.

The report, “Distribution of Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers over the U.S. West Coast During Water Year 2021: End of Water Year Summary” shows that more atmospheric rivers landed on the U.S. West Coast in Water Year 2021 than in Water Year 2020. But the majority of those storms reached the Pacific Northwest, not California, where drought conditions have impacted water supply.

“The report on atmospheric rivers shows the variability in weather across the state from year to year,” said Jeff Stephenson, Water Resources Manager with the San Diego County Water Authority. “Through our partnership with CW3E and the AR forecasting tools they’ve developed, it better prepares us in management of our water resources using regional storage. This storage, in conjunction with developing multiple water supply sources in the San Diego region, has prepared us for years when rainfall levels are below normal in the region.”

The summary report from CW3E

Water Year 2021 experienced a total of 69 landfalling ARs over the U.S. West Coast, 4 more than Water Year 2020.
• While WY 2021 experienced more ARs, a much larger majority of the ARs only impacted the Pacific Northwest.
• California only experienced AR conditions (IVT >250 kg m–1 s–1) from 36 separate ARs during WY 2021, compared to 43
during WY 2020.

Atmospheric Rivers-Water Year 2021-drought-climate

Distribution of Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers over the U.S. West Coast During Water Year 2021: End of Water Year Summary. Graphic: Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

Fewer Atmospheric Rivers in California

The lack of AR activity over California for two consecutive water years has resulted in a substantial lack of precipitation.
• A large portion of California received <30% of the normal precipitation for both Water Year 2020 and 2021.
• Coastal Washington and Oregon was the only location in the Western U.S. to receive near or above normal precipitation
during both water years, which is also the region that received a majority of the AR activity.

California experienced strong or greater magnitude AR conditions only three times during WY 2020 and 2021 combined

Atmospheric Rivers-CW3E-drought-climate

Atmospheric Rivers-CW3E-drought

The San Diego County Water Authority partnered with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, at UC San Diego in 2020 to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management before, during, and after those seasonal storms. The Center and its partners share best practices in forecast-informed reservoir operations, increased research around atmospheric rivers and droughts, and develop strategies for mitigating flood risk and increasing water supply reliability.

For additional details and graphics go to: https://bit.ly/3mKhkcR

Water Authority Wins National 2021 EPA WaterSense Excellence Award

October 11, 2021 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the San Diego County Water Authority with a 2021 WaterSense Excellence Award for advancing water efficiency through its Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper, or QWEL, program. The Water Authority received one of 34 WaterSense awards last week at the national WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas.

Desal Plant Operations Continue as State Starts to Install Barriers at Lagoon

CARLSBAD, Calif. (Oct. 7, 2021) – Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority issued the following joint statement in response to emergency response efforts following the recent oil spill off the coast of Orange County. No oil has been detected by the plant’s monitoring system.

“The San Diego County Water Authority and Poseidon Water appreciate precautionary efforts by state emergency response crews to install a protective boom at the mouth of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, which provides intake water for the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. State agencies are also installing a second barrier near the plant intake.

“The Carlsbad Desalination Plant continues to operate normally with no oil detected at the site, and there are no plans to shut it down. If operational changes are required, the Water Authority could shift water deliveries to ensure continued water service to its member agencies countywide. Per State of California requirements in the facility’s drinking water permit, the desalination plant will shut down if the hydrocarbon concentration of source seawater reaches 300 parts per billion.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely, including ongoing testing for oil in the intake waters of the desal plant. And we continue to closely coordinate with the City of Carlsbad, the County of San Diego, Orange County, state agencies and others involved in the emergency response to ensure the plant remains a vital, drought-proof water source for San Diego County.”