May 22, 2020, Santee, CA – The East County Advanced Water Purification (AWP) Joint Powers Authority (JPA) Board of Directors unanimously approved water and wastewater service agreements this week, moving this significant drinking water project one-step closer to reality. These water and wastewater agreements are critical to the JPA’s eligibility for key Program financing opportunities.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a service agreement for a major drinking water recycling project in East County.
The agreement covers the amount of wastewater capacity and financial obligations for the Sanitation District, city of El Cajon and the Padre Dam district.
On Nov. 5, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, city of El Cajon and County of San Diego formed a Joint Powers Authority to serve as the governing body for the East County Advanced Water Purification project.
A Helix Water District representative will serve as an ex officio, nonvoting member of the JPA board. “The JPA board will be focused on the wastewater side of the project. Our role in the project if it moves forward, is on the drinking water side,” said Helix Water District General Manager Carlos Lugo.
The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America recognized the San Diego County Water Authority and three regional member water agencies for exceptional work in public outreach and education efforts at its annual Bernays Awards ceremonies on Nov. 7.
The initiatives are designed to inform stakeholders and ratepayers about initiatives ensuring a safe and reliable water supply.
Water agency outreach and communication programs supporting the region’s projects using proven water purification technology to purify recycled water to create new local sources of high-quality drinking water won multiple honors.
The Water Authority’s informative “Brought To You By Water” video series, highlighting the importance of water reliability to the region’s economy, also won recognition.
The City of Oceanside won in three categories for Pure Water Oceanside:
Bronze Award of Excellence, Research/Evaluation
“Research Makes a Difference.” Pure Water Oceanside, City of Oceanside, and NV5 Inc.
Bronze Award of Excellence, Community Relations, Nonprofit/Government/Association
Pure Water Oceanside, City of Oceanside, and NV5 Inc.
Silver Award of Merit, Events, and Observances (7 days or fewer, Nonprofit/Government/Association)
“Pure Water Oceanside – World of Water,” City of Oceanside and NV5 Inc.
“Providing our water customers with quality and creative communications is a cornerstone of our transparency efforts,” said Cari Dale, water utilities director for the City of Oceanside. “By being recognized by PRSA for our passion, creativity and innovative methods to communicate about Pure Water Oceanside – a program that will provide a new, local source of high-quality drinking water as soon as 2021 – our public outreach work is validated in bringing such an important and beneficial project to Oceanside.”
Visitors to the East County Water Festival on Sept. 8 tour the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Facility. Photo: Courtesy Padre Dam MWD
The East County Advanced Water Purification Program, which includes the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, City of El Cajon, County of San Diego, won with NV5 in two categories for its East County Water Festival. It received an Award of Excellence in the Creative Tactics category and was also named a “Best of Show” winner among all Bronze entries.
“As a public entity of the communities we serve, it is imperative that we communicate effectively the benefit and need of key water projects,” said Melissa McChesney, communications manager for the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Our outreach team has done an outstanding job sharing with our communities the importance of the East County Advanced Water Purification Project. I am thrilled to see this essential work recognized by PRSA.”
The City of San Diego won a Bronze Award of Excellence for its Community Outreach in the Nonprofit/Government/Association category for its work on behalf of Pure Water San Diego’s Phase 1.
“The City of San Diego and Katz & Associates were pleased to have Pure Water San Diego’s community outreach efforts recognized by PRSA,” said Amy Dorman, deputy director, Pure Water Operations. “The Pure Water San Diego team formed community-specific working groups to gather informed feedback on how to avoid or minimize construction impacts from future Pure Water pipelines.”
The Water Authority’s regional outreach and education program, “Brought to You by Water,” was recognized with several awards.
The B2UbyH2O program was designed to expand Water Authority relationships and help stakeholders across the region recognize the critical value of safe and reliable water supplies for our economy and quality of life.
The program won Bronze Bernays Awards in the Video/Video Program and Creative Tactics categories for a series of videos featuring local leaders discussing the importance of water to their business or industry.
The series also won Silver Bernays awards in the Public Service category and the Reputation/Brand Management category.
Denise Vedder, director of the Water Authority Public Outreach and Conservation Department, was honored as the Public Relations Professional of the Year for the PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter. The honor is presented each year to a public relations practitioner who shows dedication to bettering the public relations field through innovative thinking and successful planning.
Past winners include Diana Lucero, director of marketing and public relations, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and Chris Wahl, president, Southwest Strategies.
On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, appointed representatives from Padre Dam Municipal Water District, City of El Cajon and County of San Diego held the formation meeting of the East County Advanced Water Purification Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to serve as the governing body for the East County Advanced Water Purification project. The creation of the JPA marks a key milestone in moving forward the project that will create a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water. In its initial action, the Board elected Gary Kendrick, representing the City of El Cajon, to serve as Chair of the JPA for the first year. Supervisor Dianne Jacob, representing the County of San Diego, was elected as Vice Chair. August Caires, representing Padre Dam, serves as the third member of the JPA Board.
This Saturday, October 26, Helix Water District is hosting Helix Water Talks, a behind-the-scene
The free event begins 8:30 a.m. at 1233 Vernon Way in El Cajon with coffee and bagels and includes a 2-hour walking tour of their operations center in El Cajon. Participants will see and learn how the district repairs broken water mains, installs service lines to homes and maintains water meters.
A new plan recommends four strategies to advance water reuse in California over the next three decades – an important part of both the state and regional water resilience portfolio.
The California WateReuse Action Plan includes a comprehensive set of proposed actions that will more than double the use of water recycling in California and help prepare the state for the impacts of climate change, according to WateReuse California, which released the plan in July.
But getting to that goal will require several steps, including: Completing research to advance water recycling and potable reuse; developing and streamlining recycled water regulations and permitting; increasing grant and loan opportunities to expand recycled water infrastructure; and, implementing integrated regional planning.
The U.S. EPA is developing a similar plan to advance water reuse nationwide.
San Diego water agencies collaborate on plan
Recycled water is expected to be the next major source of local water supply for the San Diego region – and the region has a long history of working together toward that goal.
The San Diego County Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to provide feedback on the plan’s development.
“We appreciate how this new plan aims to increase water supply diversification, including recycled water,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist with the Water Authority, and a contributor to the final action plan.
“Within the next 15 years, potable reuse and recycled water is projected to make up more than a quarter of San Diego County’s supply, but reaching our potential will depend in part on statewide implementation of the plan’s key findings,” Dobalian said.
Water Resilience Portfolio
In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.
On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.
In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San Diego, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.
National water reuse action plan
At the national level, EPA is also developing a Water Reuse Action Plan, or WRAP, to advance water reuse. The Water Authority met with its member agencies and submitted comments to the U.S. EPA for the WRAP.
A draft WRAP is expected to be released by the federal agency at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-11 in San Diego.
“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”
The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward after a new funding agreement was approved.
The program’s partner agencies – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, Helix Water District and the County of San Diego – recently approved the Interim Funding Agreement. The final vote from the County of San Diego took place July 10.
The project is expected to begin producing water in 2025.
Purified water reduces dependence on imported water
The agreement requires each agency to commit $2.35 million ($9.4 million total) toward the program, with the aim to create a new, local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.
“This is an important milestone toward the completion of this innovative and much-needed program, said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Working together with our partners, we are moving one step closer to reducing our dependence on imported water and putting the mechanisms in place to support our economy and quality of life well into the future.”
Sustainable drinking water project
Once complete, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will generate up to 11.5 million gallons per day of new drinking water. This represents approximately 30 percent of current drinking water consumption for residents within the Padre Dam service area (Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest), and the Helix service area (including the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, and El Cajon, and the Spring Valley area). This represents approximately 373,000 residents.
The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally, and then purify the recycled water at an advanced water treatment facility using four advanced water purification steps producing water that is near-distilled in quality. The purified water will then be blended with water in Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.
Industry Day planned for prospective designers and contractors
Next steps for the project include formation of a Joint Powers Authority between Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, and the County of San Diego to serve as the governing body for the program.
An industry day is being planned in mid-August to provide notice to prospective designers and contractors on the initiation of a selection process for the progressive design-build packages that will begin posting in Fall 2019.
Partner agencies also continue to pursue grant and loan opportunities to help fund the estimated $528 million project.
The water-recycling project is intended to diversify East County’s drinking water supply and reduce the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Padre Dam offers tours of the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. To schedule a tour or for more information on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, visit www.EastCountyAWP.com.
Residents are invited to celebrate water at the East County Water Festival from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project Visitor Center in Santee.
This free, fun-filled, water-themed event takes place for the first time this year. Members of the East County community as well as other interested San Diegans are invited to participate in interactive activities for adults and children.
Among the Water Festival’s highlights:
- Tour the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Facility to learn about the science of cleaning and purifying wastewater.
- Enjoy free food and sample iced coffee using purified recycled water.
- Participate in face-painting, take-home crafts and much more.
The event is hosted by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. The Advanced Water Purification Program is a regional partnership with Padre Dam, Helix Water District, City of El Cajon and the County of San Diego. To sign up to attend and for location details, go to www.EastCountyAWP.com.
About the East County Advanced Water Purification Program and Padre Dam Municipal Water District
The East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Facility treats recycled water to create 100,000 gallons of purified water each day. The facility uses the same state-of-the-art technology that provides water to Disneyland and more than 600,000 Orange County residents. The Advanced Water Purification Program could ultimately produce up to 30 percent of the drinking water for residents in the Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Helix Water District water service areas.
Padre Dam provides water, sewer, recycled water and recreation services to approximately 100,000 residents in East San Diego County, including Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest. The district currently imports 100 percent of its drinking water supply and treats two million gallons per day of wastewater at its Water Recycling Facility. Go to www.padredam.org for more information.