Vista, Calif. — Vista Irrigation District board of directors voted to use $1.57 million received from the San Diego County Water Authority as part of a legal settlement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to offset the financial impact of Water Authority rate increases over the next five years.
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Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors unanimously voted at its April 14 meeting to utilize a $2 million refund to reduce future rate increases to OMWD ratepayers. The refund resulted from San Diego County Water Authority’s decade-long litigation with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California seeking legal rates and repayment of overcharges.
Three potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region were highlighted this week during the San Diego Green Building Council’s inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego.”
The Sustainable Building Week programs focused on sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building.
The panel discussion, “Potable Reuse: New Local Sources of High-Quality Drinking Water for San Diego County,” updated the development status and future benefits of three projects: Pure Water Oceanside, Pure Water San Diego, and the East County Advanced Water Purification program. Attendees learned how the technology works and how it reduces reliance on imported water, while increasing local supply.
Multiple benefits to the environment
“Potable reuse has multiple benefits, including sustainability and drought resilience,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority and the panel moderator.
Pure Water Oceanside
“Water supplies are subject to lots of vulnerabilities, including rising costs, energy consumption, natural disasters, and eco-system and environmental issues,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “Pure Water Oceanside replicates and accelerates Nature’s natural recycling process.”
The City of Oceanside is working toward creating 50% of its water supply locally, including Pure Water Oceanside, by 2030.
East County AWP
Kyle Swanson, director of advanced water purification with the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, said the East County Advanced Water Purification project would recycle 15 million gallons of annual wastewater discharge into a resource. Currently, wastewater from East County travels 20 miles to be discharged into the San Diego metropolitan wastewater treatment system and eventually into the Pacific Ocean.
“Redistribution of this water would meet 30% of the demand for potable water in East County,” said Swanson. “It is sustainable, uninterruptable, and competitive in costs.”
Pure Water San Diego
Pure Water San Diego is the $5 billion project designed to generate 83 million gallons of water per day by 2035, nearly one-half of San Diego’s water demand based on the new 2021 urban water management plan.
“That’s pretty exciting, half our water supply is from this project,” said John Stufflebean, assistant director, City of San Diego Water Utilities Department.
Phase 1 will produce 30 million gallons of water per day by 2025; Phase 2 will deliver the remaining supply.
Potable reuse will provide a new source of safe, high quality drinking water in San Diego County. This local supply is sustainable, drought resilient, and benefits the environment. It will also help prepare the region for future droughts and a changing climate.
Drought is back in California. Federal and state agencies are warning of potential water shortages in the months ahead. Because of investments made by the San Diego County Water Authority, its member agencies and the region’s water ratepayers, San Diego County is safe from the threat of multiyear droughts.
“We are now facing the reality that it will be a second dry year for California and that is having a significant impact on our water supply,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth in early April. “The Department of Water Resources is working with our federal and state partners to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users. We encourage everyone to look for ways to use water efficiently in their everyday lives.”
California is better prepared for drought than in the past. Following the 2012-2016 drought, DWR enacted many programs focused on managing the state’s water through a strategic, integrated approach with a strong emphasis on water use efficiency and conservation.#californiaforall pic.twitter.com/9D6qUyCHsF
— CA – DWR (@CA_DWR) April 1, 2021
The San Diego region relies far less on supplies from Northern California than in previous decades. A severe drought in the early 1990s forced the region to confront the fact that continuing to provide safe and reliable water demanded a diverse portfolio of supplies instead of near-total reliance on a single source.
“We have sufficient water supplies whether it’s a normal year, which means normal rainfall,” said Jeff Stephenson, water resources manager at the San Diego County Water Authority. “A single dry year. Or a period of five straight dry years. Under those scenarios we have more than sufficient water supplies to meet the needs of the region.”
“The Water Authority has sufficient water supplies whether it is a normal year or multiple dry years,” said
San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Manager Jeff Stephenson. https://t.co/So1C7X0r0x #cawater #cawx #WaterResiliencePortfolio
— San Diego County Water Authority (@sdcwa) April 13, 2021
Investments and planning pay off
Stephenson credits three decades of efforts by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to diversify water sources, including contracts for water transfers with the Imperial Irrigation District and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, as well as the development of additional water storage capacity in the region.
There are also several water reuse or recycling projects in development throughout San Diego County. The region’s dependence on imported water supply will decrease as these local supply sources are developed and become operational.
Approximately 43,000 acre-feet of recycled water is expected to be reused within the Water Authority’s service area annually by 2025. As the new and expanded potable reuse plants come online, they are projected to produce more than 112,000 acre-feet per year of new drinking water supplies by 2045, enough to meet nearly 18% of the region’s future water demand.
“Our member agencies throughout the region have developed more local supplies, such as recycled water,” Stephenson said. “In addition, the member agencies are developing potable reuse projects, including the city of San Diego’s pure water program which comes online in the future, and all of those supplies really make the region much more able to withstand drought periods.”
This collaborative effort between @PadreDam, @helixwater, @CityofElCajon and County of San Diego
✔️ Guard against drought
✔️ Protect the environment ♻️
✔️ Economize costs for clean, safe, drinking waterhttps://t.co/EeGicfI7J2 pic.twitter.com/WEEDMcVLMr
— EastCountyAWP (@EastCountyAWP) March 31, 2021
Revised drought contingency plan
As a result of the persistent drought conditions, and in accordance with its permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project, DWR has submitted a revised Drought Contingency Plan to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plan provides updated hydrologic conditions and outlines areas of concern for the joint operations of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, water quality, and environmental impacts.
CW3E End of Winter Summary: Total precipitation during WY 2021 has been well below-normal across much of California. Drought conditions have persisted over Northern CA and worsened elsewhere in the state.
— CW3E Scripps (@CW3E_Scripps) April 7, 2021
In late-March, the State Water Resources Control Board mailed approximately 40,000 notices to water right holders, warning of persisting dry conditions and asking them to plan for potential shortages. Officials said the warnings, a result of two years of below average precipitation and below average state reservoir levels, will prompt early action to help minimize short term drought impacts.
“Planting crops and other decisions that are dictated by water supply are made early in the year, so early warnings are vital,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director for the Water Board’s Division of Water Rights. “These letters give water users time to prepare and help minimize the impacts of reduced supplies on businesses, farms and homes.”
The agency suggested in the letter that agricultural water users can implement practical actions now to improve their drought resilience, including reducing irrigated acreage, managing herd size, using innovative irrigation and diversifying water supply portfolios. Urban water users can conserve by putting in drought-resistant landscape, reducing outdoor irrigation and replacing older house fixtures and appliances with more efficient ones.
Sierra snowpack water equivalent really plummeting at the moment–down to 40% of average from 46% less than a week ago. High elevation snow showers poss. next 48 hours, but nothing that will meaningfully affect the extremely early snowmelt that is occurring this yr.#CAwx #CAwater https://t.co/Gb94Na8npA
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) April 13, 2021
Increasing local supply sources
The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies continue to increase local supply sources and make investments to ensure a plentiful, safe, and reliable water supply for the region’s 3.3 million people and its $245 billion economy.
“Current conditions are a reminder of why the Water Authority and its member agencies have invested in locally controlled water sources and facilities such as dams and pipelines that can move water when and where it’s needed,” said the Water Authority’s Stephenson.
Ever since the drought of the early 1990s, the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have been leading advocates for water-smart strategies such as low-flow toilets, low-water landscapes and other conservation tactics. One result is that per capita water use in the San Diego region is down by more than 50% over the past three decades.
Encinitas, Calif. — At its May 19 meeting, OMWD’s Board of Directors will honor outgoing Division 5 Director Edmund K. Sprague, who will retire from the board following the May 19 meeting.
Mr. Sprague announced on March 17 his intent to retire, at which time OMWD Board President Larry Watt thanked him for his 13 years of devoted service to OMWD and its ratepayers.
Representatives from three potable reuse projects under development in San Diego County will provide project updates during the inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego” at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13.
Hosted by the San Diego Green Building Council, Sustainable Building Week offers free virtual events from April 12 – 16 addressing sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building. All events are free and open to the public.
Sustainable Building Week and potable reuse
The San Diego County Water Authority hosts and moderates a panel titled “Potable Reuse: New Local Sources of High-Quality Drinking Water for San Diego County.” Potable reuse will provide a new source of safe, high-quality drinking water in San Diego County. Projects will create a local supply that is sustainable, drought-resilient, and benefits the environment. Additional sources of local water supply will also help prepare the region for future droughts and a changing climate.
Financially competitive and environmentally responsible
Attendees to the free virtual presentation will hear the latest updates on three San Diego County potable reuse projects currently under development. The presenters will describe how the potable reuse process purifies recycled water; reduces reliance on imported water; and is financially competitive and environmentally responsible.
Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, has been working towards meeting the Oceanside City Council’s goal of 50% local water supply development by the year 2030, a goal which will be achieved in part by the implementation of Pure Water Oceanside.
John Stufflebean, Assistant Director, Water Utilities Department, City of San Diego, currently the Assistant Director for the Pure Water and Technical Services Branch. Pure Water San Diego is the $5 billion project designed to generate nearly one-half of San Diego’s water demand from purified wastewater.
Kyle Swanson, Director of Advanced Water Purification, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, provides leadership and guidance in the design and implementation of the East County Advanced Water Purification Project. He has over 20 years of experience in water-related industries and is a licensed distribution and treatment operator and certified public manager.
Moderating the program is Lesley Dobalian, Principal Water Resources Specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority.
The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department conducts regular surveys of its watersheds to monitor and maintain high water quality within those watersheds.
The City recently released its 2020 Watershed Sanitary Survey. Conducted and issued every five years since 1996 as required by California law, the report identifies actual or potential causes of local source water contamination that might adversely affect the quality and treatability of City of San Diego water.
The updated information is used as a basis for future watershed management and planning efforts. City of San Diego tap water meets all state and federal drinking water health standards, the primary standards for treating and monitoring water.
“Development and other activities in our watersheds can have a profound influence on the quality of our water,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department. “The Watershed Sanitary Survey is important for identifying potential negative impacts and ways to better protect our watersheds.”
Watershed protection critical to safe, reliable water supply
A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a specific body of water. Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity, is part of the watershed. Many places San Diego County residents live, work, and play in are watershed areas.
There are 11 westward draining watersheds in San Diego County. Six are within the City of San Diego: San Dieguito River, Los Peñasquitos, Mission Bay and La Jolla, San Diego Bay, San Diego River, and Tijuana River.
The City of San Diego’s nine water supply reservoirs have a combined capacity of over 550,000 acre-feet and more than 900 square miles of watershed lands tributary to these reservoirs. Local runoff from watersheds captured in City reservoirs accounted for about 11% of total drinking water production from 2015-2020.
Reservoirs are critical components of the regional water supply system, as water is supplied to nearly two million people in the City of San Diego and neighboring communities. Protecting these water sources is vital to providing healthy and safe drinking water. The public can assist in preventing watershed damage through source reduction and preventing stormwater runoff.
The 2020 survey noted these changes since the 2015 Watershed Sanitary Survey:
- Total area of residential and commercial development in the watersheds increased slightly by about 2%.
- A total of 412 new construction permits were recorded for onsite wastewater treatment systems located within the watersheds.
- The number of fires occurring in the watersheds increased by about 8%.
- Leaking underground storage sites decreased by 53%.
- Sanitary sewer overflows increased by 36%.
The survey offers recommendations including continuing and expanding public awareness programs to help protect watershed, and implementing projects and programs to improve land management and water quality of source waters. All recommendations will be used for future watershed management and planning efforts.
The full 2020 Watershed Sanitary Survey, as well as past surveys, is available on the City’s website.
Editors Note: The City of San Diego is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies working collaboratively with the Water Authority to increase the value, reliability, and safety of water for ratepayers in San Diego County.
The Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program starts today, April 5, and offers a one-time credit of up to $300 to help Helix Water District’s residential customers who live in a single-family home, are behind on their water bill and can demonstrate loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District has been awarded $500,000 in grant funding from United States Bureau of Reclamation for OMWD’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure project. The award was made available through USBR’s Water and Energy Efficiency Research Program for Fiscal Year 2021.
Spring Valley, Calif. – The Otay Water District announces the launch of the 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The contest awards the title of “Best in District” and a $250 nursery gift card to the customer judged to have the most attractive, water-efficient yard. The deadline to enter is Friday, May 14, 2021.