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Director of Public Affairs Denise Vedder and Public Affairs Manager Mike Lee with the EPIC Award for the Water Authority’s “Drought Safe San Diego” public outreach campaign. Photo: Ed Joyce EPIC Awards

Drought Safe San Diego Program Honored at 2022 CAPIO EPIC Awards

The San Diego County Water Authority received two awards at the 2022 California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) EPIC Awards competition for California public agency communication programs.

The Water Authority’s “Drought Safe San Diego” public outreach campaign won an EPIC Award (first place) for Communications or Marketing Plans/Campaigns – In-House; and an Award of Distinction for Video Production – Promotional – In House.

Judges called the overall campaign effort very impressive. “A thorough campaign. Impressive numbers to back up the messaging. Definitely great work and the campaign achieved its goal.”

Judges praised the use of Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and popular San Diego iHeartMedia radio personalities to connect with the community and highlight critically important conservation messages.

“Great backstory. I really like this campaign. this one really helped me understand that the improvements made were helping capacity, but that there was still a strong need to conserve.”

“Loved the thorough planning process you put into this project. Great use of influencers. Great campaign and kudos to SDC Water Authority for thinking ahead.”

EPIC Awards Honor Work With A Lasting Impact

The Water Authority's outreach effort drew significant national media attention, including the New York Times. Photo: New York Times/screenshot EPIC Awards

The Water Authority’s outreach effort drew significant national media attention, including the New York Times. Photo: New York Times/screenshot

The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development, and video production.

The EPIC Awards honor work that made a lasting impact, providing an equal chance of winning to all entrants regardless of company or agency size and project budget. Entries are assessed on research and planning efforts which display an understanding of audience objectives and needs for information; development and execution; and how successfully the entrant organization achieves its objectives.

Drought-Safe San Diego

“Drought-Safe San Diego” also received an Award of Excellence at the 2022 APEX Awards. APEX 22 recognizes excellence in publishing by professional communicators. The campaign was honored in “Campaigns, Programs, and Plans – Public Service.” APEX 22 received more than 1,200 entries worldwide in 14 categories.

The Water Authority is a previous CAPIO EPIC Award winner in the Website category for the Water News Network, which has also won the Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website category for four years in a row from the San Diego Press Club Journalism Awards.

(Editor’s note: The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $240 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. The Water Authority works closely with its 24 member agencies to provide safe, reliable water service to the region.)

Fourth-Grade Artists Win OMWD Water Awareness Poster Contest

Three fourth-grade student artists were recognized for their award-winning artwork by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board of Directors at its May 18 meeting as the top three entries in the 2022 “Love Water, Save Water” Poster Contest.

For 29 years, the district has invited fourth-grade students living or attending school within the Olivenhain Municipal Water District service area to enter the contest and create posters depicting the theme “Love Water, Save Water.”

Larry A. Watt, OMWD Board President (center) with contest winners (left to right) Ariana Lemle, Emalyn Negrea, and Indira Jayanti. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water Districtv

Larry A. Watt, OMWD Board President (center) with contest winners (left to right) Ariana Lemle, Emalyn Negrea, and Indira Jayanti. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Given the drought conditions experienced throughout California, educational opportunities like this encourage students to learn more about water and their environment,” said OMWD Board Vice President Kristie Bruce-Lane. “The contest allows elementary school children to showcase their creative talents by conveying the importance of water use efficiency through art.”

 The 2022 OMWD Water Awareness Poster Contest winners are:

Indira Jayanti, Stone Ranch Elementary School: Indira’s poster depicts her creative interpretation of rainwater harvesting. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Indira Jayanti, Stone Ranch Elementary School: Indira’s poster depicts her creative interpretation of rainwater harvesting. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Indira Jayanti, Stone Ranch Elementary School: Indira’s poster depicts her creative interpretation of rainwater harvesting. Indira says she was inspired to participate in the contest “because I believe in saving water and I care about Planet Earth.” She saves water at home by sticking to a five-minute shower and turning off sprinklers when it’s going to rain. She like science and math, sports like tennis, basketball, and swimming, and loves to sing and dance.

Ariana Lemle, Flora Vista Elementary School: Ariana’s poster featured a large drop of water illustrating four different natural landscapes dependent on water. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District OMWD Water Awareness Poster

Ariana Lemle, Flora Vista Elementary School: Ariana’s poster featured a large drop of water illustrating four different natural landscapes dependent on water. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Ariana Lemle, Flora Vista Elementary School: Ariana’s poster featured a large drop of water illustrating four different natural landscapes dependent on water. Ariana repurposes materials around the home like old cereal boxes, food labels, egg cartons, and clothing fabric for her drawing and designing projects. On weekends, you can find Ariana swimming, spending time with friends, crafting, drawing, or camping with her dad. She is happiest when she is out exploring and trying new things.

Emalyn Negrea’s artwork shows two mermaids happily swimming in water. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Emalyn Negrea’s artwork shows two mermaids happily swimming in water. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Emalyn Negrea, Flora Vista Elementary School: Emalyn’s artwork shows two mermaids happily swimming in water. She says her artwork was inspired by her love of the ocean and helping our planet “so that we are able to continue to enjoy its beauty for many years to come.” She enjoys art, surfing, snowboarding, and soccer. On weekends, you can find her enjoying time with family and friends.

The contest teaches students the value of water as a limited resource and the importance of using it wisely, while providing OMWD with locally produced artwork to reinforce this message to its customers.

The recognized posters will be featured in a 2023 Water Awareness Calendar available to the public later this year.

(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.)

First Place – Abraham Hernandez, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix Water District 2022 Student Poster Contest Winners Highlight ‘Water is Life’

The Helix Water District Board of Directors honored East County student artists for their winning “Water Is Life” posters in an online awards ceremony during its May 2022 board meeting.

Southern California students in kindergarten through eighth grade are invited to participate in their regional water agency’s Student Poster Art Contest to increase awareness about water conservation. This year, 349 students from 22 schools within the Helix Water District submitted their posters depicting how to use water wisely, a 33% increase in entries from the 2021 competition.

These students took top honors in two categories

Grades K – 3

First Place – Aiden Galaz, Vista La Mesa Academy, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

First Place – Aiden Galaz, Vista La Mesa Academy, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District.

 

Third Place – Belen Cardenas Loera, Lighthouse Christian Academy, Grade 2. Photo: Helix Water District

Third Place – Belen Cardenas Loera, Lighthouse Christian Academy, Grade 2. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Clare Brandt, Our Lady of Grace School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

Honorable Mention – Clare Brandt, Our Lady of Grace School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Gabrielle Portilla, Lakeview Elementary Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Gabrielle Portilla, Lakeview Elementary Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

Grades 4 – 8

First Place – Abraham Hernandez, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

First Place – Abraham Hernandez, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Second Place – Abigail Payne, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 8. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

 

Third Place – Catalina Jones, Lemon Avenue Elementary, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

Third Place – Catalina Jones, Lemon Avenue Elementary, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Kayla V. Osuna, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 7. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Kayla V. Osuna, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 7. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Lindsay Lu, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 8. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Lindsay Lu, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 8. Photo: Helix Water District

Winners now move on to compete with other regional winners for the opportunity to appear in the 2023 Metropolitan Water District of Southern California calendar.

Third-grader Lucas Regimbal from Christ Lutheran La Mesa School in the Helix Water District was the youngest of four San Diego County residents to appear in the 2022 MWDD “Water Is Life” calendar.

Lucas explained his message. “I think there are so many big things to do to save water and conserve. But there are also many little things we can do as well. A lot of little things come up to some very big things. By fixing drips, each home or business can save hundreds of gallons of water per year. That means a lot if lots of families and business did this one little thing.”

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

Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Helix Water District Student Poster Contest Winners Highlight Water is Life

Helix Water District honored local student artists for their winning Water Is Life posters at an awards ceremony during Helix Water District’s board meeting on May 24, 2022.

Each year, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of Helix’s wholesale water providers, holds a regional poster contest for students in kindergarten through eighth grade to increase students’ awareness about water.

Helix promotes the contest to all K-8 schools within its service area. This year, 349 students from 22 schools submitted posters depicting how to use water wisely.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Recognized for Construction Projects to Ensure Water Reliability

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Indian Head Canyon Pipeline Restoration Project and El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement Project were both recognized today as 2022 Projects of the Year by American Public Works Association’s San Diego and Imperial County Chapter at its awards event in Mission Valley.

“OMWD takes great pride in providing uninterrupted water service to our customers,” said OMWD Board President Larry Watt. “Replacing and repairing infrastructure before it fails helps to avoid emergency repairs, which is a more cost-effective and less impactful approach.”

Safe Work Practices Earn Sweetwater Authority An Insurance Refund

Chula Vista, Calif. – On March 23, 2022, Sweetwater Authority (Authority) received a refund check of $211,954 from the Association of California Water Agencies-Joint Powers Insurance Authority (JPIA).

“The Governing Board is so proud of staff for their hard work and commitment to safety. We appreciate their efforts and the positive impacts that these sorts of refunds have on our budget,” said Chair Alejandra Sotelo-Solis.

Multiple Water and Wastewater Industry Awards Won by City of Escondido

The City of Escondido scored wins in three categories at the annual California Water Environment Association awards on January 29. CWEA is California’s oldest and most prominent association of water protection professionals.

Hale Avenue Facility Named San Diego Section Wastewater Plant of the Year

The City of Escondido’s Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility, HARRF won the 2022 Wastewater Plant of the Year Photo: City of Escondido wastewater industry awards

The City of Escondido’s Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility, or HARRF, won the 2022 Wastewater Plant of the Year Photo: City of Escondido

The City of Escondido’s Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility (HARRF) won the 2022 Wastewater Plant of the Year (Medium Category). The HARRF is designed to treat up to 18 million gallons per day from the City of Escondido and the Rancho Bernardo area of the City of San Diego. The plant operates 24 hours a day, producing recycled water for the City of Escondido, along with organic materials called biosolids for beneficial reuse in Yuma, Arizona as agricultural soil amendments.

Professional staff make use of technology to manage plant operations with real-time information. A significant outcome is the consistent production of high-quality effluent, which allows the HARRF to drastically reduce chemical use in producing recycled water.

The City of Escondido wastewater department continually strives for the most cost-effective and process-minded maintenance program to minimize emergency calls or system failures. Over the past five years, the maintenance department has seen a reduction in emergency callouts by 75% by implementing an aggressive preventative maintenance and testing program.

Collection System of the Year Award

Escondido also won recognition for Collection System of the Year (Medium Category). The City of Escondido has 380 miles of collection system pipelines, dating back to 1928. As the system ages, aggressive maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement are imperative. The 16-person team cleans all 380 miles in the system annually. Older lines at risk of failing get priority replacement.

Where acceptable, crews rehabilitate lines with liners as a relatively inexpensive alternative to digging trenches for complete replacement. The liners have a 25- to 30-year lifespan. In 2021, 1,112 linear feet of pipeline were relined. Open trench replacement work was performed on 450 feet of pipeline.

Jorge Huitron Honored as Laboratory Analyst of the Year

Jorge Huitron (second from right) receives his award as Laboratory Person of the Year. Photo: City of Escondido wastewater industry awards

Jorge Huitron (second from right) receives his award as Lab Analyst of the Year. Photo: City of Escondido

Escondido Lab Technician II Jorge Hutiron’s outstanding work won recognition with the Lab Analyst of the Year award.

Huitron conducts complex water and wastewater analyses, from bench chemistry to bacteriological assessments, sample setup, data entry, and clean-up. His work assures all water supplies are safe for users.

Huitron trains both new and seasoned Escondido employees based on four decades of experience. Colleagues comment they learn something new from Huitron, even those with years of experience.

“Incredible asset”

“Jorge has been an incredible asset,” said Ralph Ginese, Supervising  Chemist, who nominated Huitron. “There really isn’t anything Jorge does not do. We are thankful to have him working with us.” Ginese said the 66-year-old veteran professional did his work so quietly over the years, it took the coronavirus pandemic to call attention to his effort, expertise, and value as a team player.

The nomination also cites Huitron’s ability to keep morale high during the pandemic through his leadership, teamwork, training, sharing, and empathy, along with ongoing consistency and reliability. “Jorge has a gleam in his eye, pride as he watches his colleagues learn from his experiences,” wrote Ginese in his nomination. “Laughter and smiles cross everyone’s face as he shares his stories of failures and success. Up until last year, this part of Jorge has been hidden. He now encompasses every attribute of what it means to be Laboratory Person of the Year.”

Each of the 20 CWEA award categories honors exceptional CWEA members and California wastewater professionals, facilities, and agencies. The program seeks to recognize outstanding achievements within the wastewater field, improve the professional status of all personnel working in the wastewater industry and related fields and stimulate public awareness of the importance of wastewater treatment to public health and the water environment.

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

The popular dining deck at award-winning Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes is Park of the Year

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds named the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve its Park of the Year in the Large Park category for its guest experience and overall excellence.

The association, or ARVC, also recognized Santee Lakes as a “Plan-It Green Friendly Park of the Year” for its environmentally-friendly practices across all park operations and its commitment to sustainability. Judges make their decision based on several criteria: guest experiences, all-around excellence in operations, professionalism, marketing, customer service, and industry involvement.

Both awards were presented at the 2021 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo. Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes.

“Despite the numerous challenges we faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Santee Lakes still managed to embrace our family-friendly camping culture and create a much-needed respite from stressors in the world,” said Koval. “As one guest said, “First campground I’ve been to in a while that feels like home.”

Santee Lakes Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water DistrictSantee Lakes Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes “a shining star”

“The ARVC Park of the Year Awards showcase excellence at so many levels, and Santee Lakes is a shining star reaching the highest level of recognition,” said ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei. “To win both Park of the Year and Plan-It Green Park of the Year in 2021 is quite an accomplishment, and it shows the high level of excellence Santee Lakes provides its customers, employees, and community.”

In addition to its most recent honors, Santee Lakes was also named to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s “Best 2021” reader poll in the categories Staycation Location, Scenic Spot, San Diego Attraction, Entertainment Venue, Place to Get Married, and Hiking Trail. It also won “Favorite Place” from the Santee Chamber of Commerce and San Diego’s Reader’s Poll as one of its “Favorite Places to Get Married.”

Sixty years of community recreation

Fishing remains among the favorite activities. Santee Lakes was recenty stocked with rainbow trout for the winter season. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Fishing remains among the favorite activities. Santee Lakes was recently stocked with rainbow trout for the winter season. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes celebrates 60 years of operation in 2021. In 1959, the Santee County Water District, now the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, initiated a then-unique project of recycling wastewater for irrigation and commercial uses. As part of the treatment process, a chain of seven individual lakes was developed. Boating and fishing were authorized in 1961, and Santee Lakes opened to the public.

Today, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve hosts over 760,000 visitors annually. The 190-acre park’s lakes are stocked with fish year-round, most recently on December 17. Other amenities include camping, cabin rentals, fishing, boating, playgrounds, walking trails, facility rentals, special events, and approximately 230 bird species.

Santee Lakes is self-sustaining

The park is owned and operated by Padre Dam Municipal Water District. However, it is self-sustaining and receives no funds from water or wastewater ratepayers. The Park operates from guest user fees, grants and awards, collaborations with community groups, and sponsorships.

“We are humbled to receive these honors, especially during the year of our 60th anniversary,” said Koval. “The staff has worked tirelessly to maintain Santee Lakes as an environmentally sustainable and premier destination. These awards will be cherished for many years to come.”

(Editor’s note: The Padre Dam 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.)

2021 ARVC Large Park of the Year and Plan-It Green Park of the Year

Santee, Calif. – Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve has been named Plan-it Green and Large Park of the Year by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). This prominent recognition was awarded during the recent 2021 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo (OHCE).

Water News Network-honored-Pure Water Oceanside

Water News Network Website Honored

The Water News Network was honored with awards from several organizations recently, including the Public Relations Society of America.

On November 18, the WNN received a Bronze Bernays Award of Merit in the websites category from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) San Diego/Imperial County chapter. It is the second consecutive year the WNN website has received this award.

Now in its fourth year of operation, the WNN is recognized as a reliable source of factual information upholding the standards of journalism to provide news about the water and wastewater industry to the San Diego region and the Southwest United States.

Honored by San Diego Press Club

In October, the WNN website was awarded first place as the Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website by the San Diego Press Club. It is the fourth consecutive year the WNN has received this honor.

Water News Network staff also received three awards from the San Diego Press Club in 2021:

  • Kimberlyn Velasquez, second place in the Photography-Video category for her video “Hydroelectric and Pressure Control Facility Upgrades,” which focused on the replacement of two truck-sized valves in central San Diego.
  • Ed Joyce, second place in the Series-Light Feature category for the WNN series “Water Utility Hero of the Week,” about the San Diego County region’s water and wastewater industry employees working during the coronavirus pandemic, and third place in the Environment Reporting category, for the original WNN story “La Niña and California’s New Water Year.”

The Water News Network was given an EPIC Award in 2020 as the Best California Public Agency Website by CAPIO (California Public Information Officers Organization). CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state.

The Water News Network specializes in covering water and wastewater industry stories in the San Diego County region, focusing on the people and projects that ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply flows to the region’s 3.3 million residents and its $253 billion economy.

(Editor’s note: News about the water and wastewater industry published in the Water News Network would not be possible without the contributions from the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies, that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)