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Another Agency Wrestles With a Weighted Voting Structure

How should power over water decisions in San Diego be divided?

Should the city of San Diego, which represents almost 40 percent of the region’s water consumers, have the most sway?

Or should smaller cities be on equal footing when the outcome of a decision could harm towns with less people and money?

That is the question facing San Diego County Water Authority once again, after the latest vote over a $5 billion duplicate pipeline to the Colorado River. Directors voted down spending $1.7 million more to study the project further, in raw numbers. Twenty of the agency’s 36 directors said no to the pipeline, and 14 said yes.

San Diego County Still Working on Climate Action Plan

San Diego County is already working on another climate action plan, hoping they can finally come up with one that stands up to legal scrutiny.

The county has, over the past 10 years, put together four climate action plans. Each was a spectacular failure.

Pure Water San Diego Launches Guided Virtual Tour

The City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility public tour is now available as a virtual tour. A new video provides an up-close look at the technology behind the water purification plant.  In-person tours are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and will resume once it is safe to do so. Since opening in June 2011, nearly 19,000 people have toured the one-million-gallon-per-day facility in person.

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

Pure Water San Diego Launches Guided Virtual Tour

The City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility public tour is now available as a virtual tour. A new video provides an up-close look at the technology behind the water purification plant. In-person tours are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and will resume once it is safe to do so.

Since opening in June 2011, nearly 19,000 people have toured the one-million-gallon-per-day facility in person. Now, the Pure Water Demonstration Facility Virtual Tour takes viewers step-by-step through each of the five treatment processes used to create Pure Water.

Members of the City Pure Water team including wastewater operators, engineers, and water resource specialists explain the equipment and technology. Each is accompanied by graphics and animations showing the inner workings of each barrier. The video also includes drone footage for a bird’s-eye view perspective not previously available to the public.

Take the Pure Water San Diego virtual tour

Phase 1 construction on schedule to begin in early 2021

Construction of Phase 1 of the Pure Water Program is scheduled to begin in early 2021. Phase 1 will include a full-scale, 30-million-gallon-per-day Pure Water Facility that will use the five water purification steps modeled at the Demonstration Facility.

The North City Pure Water Facility will be constructed on a City of San Diego owned parcel east of Interstate 805 and north of Eastgate Mall, across from the existing North City Water Reclamation Plant.

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird's eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird’s eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Purified water produced at the completed plant will be delivered to the Miramar Reservoir, blended with the City of San Diego’s imported and local water sources, and treated again at the existing Miramar Drinking Water Treatment Plant. After this process, the water will be distributed to customers. Phase 1 projects are expected to be completed in 2025.

The tour video is available at virtualtour.purewatersd.org More information about the Program can be found at www.purewatersd.org.

San Diego ‘Gets It Done’ — 7,000 Tons of Trash Removed from Public Spaces

Three years into a citywide effort to keep San Diego clean and safe, Mayor Kevin Faulconer brought together partners of the city’s Clean SD program Tuesday to highlight the progress in removing more than 7,000 tons of trash, debris and waste from public spaces across the city.

City Refinances Loan for Pure Water Project, Saving $293 Million Over 15 Years

The City of San Diego announced Thursday it has refinanced a loan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that city leaders say will save $293 million for taxpayers as the public utilities department begins work on Pure Water San Diego — the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history.

City of San Diego Saves Nearly $300M for Ratepayers by Refinancing Pure Water Project

San Diego, Calif. – In an important cost-savings agreement, the City of San Diego has refinanced a loan with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will save an estimated $293 million for taxpayers as the City’s Public Utilities Department embarks on the first phase of Pure Water San Diego – the largest infrastructure project in City history.

Otay Water’s Gary Croucher Succeeds Jim Madaffer at County Water Authority

The San Diego County Water Authority’s board of directors have elected the Otay Water District‘s Gary Croucher as chair for a two-year term, succeeding Jim Madaffer on Sept. 30. Christy Guerin, who represents the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, will serve as vice chair and Jerry Butkiewicz from the City of San Diego will be secretary.

Gary Croucher-Christy Guerin-Jerry Butkiewicz-San Diego County Water Authority Board

Croucher Elected Board Chair of San Diego County Water Authority

New officers for the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors were elected today, with Gary Croucher starting his two-year term as Board chair on Oct. 1.

Croucher, vice chair of the Board for the past two years as a representative from the Otay Water District, will serve with incoming Vice Chair Christy Guerin, a Board representative from the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and incoming Secretary Jerry Butkiewicz from the City of San Diego.

Jim Madaffer, who represents the City of San Diego on the Water Authority’s Board, served as chair the past two years. His term ends on Sept. 30.

Collaboration with 24 member agencies ensures plentiful water supply

“The Water Authority is one of our region’s most important institutions, and I’m committed to continuing our long legacy of providing safe and reliable water supplies that sustain 3.3 million people and our $245 billion economy,” said Croucher. “The collaboration with our 24 member agencies is vital to ensure a clean, safe and plentiful water supply for this beautiful place we call home.”

“We are stronger together”

“Looking ahead, Water Authority priorities include assessing the infrastructure necessary to provide water supply reliability for generations to come and leveraging existing infrastructure to increase long-term energy storage. We’re also focused on opportunities to expand partnerships that will benefit our region and the entire Southwest,” Croucher said. “I will also be devoting my personal energy and attention to addressing and resolving concerns two Water Authority member agencies have in seeking detachment from the Water Authority, because I firmly believe we are stronger together.”

He also said that the Water Authority will continue efforts advanced under Madaffer’s leadership to resolve legal disputes over rates with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California while looking for ways to collaborate with MWD on other issues.

Outgoing Board Chair Madaffer honored

Madaffer, presiding over his last meeting as Board chair, was honored by staff and Board members for his leadership — following on the two-year efforts of his predecessor, Mark Muir, on the rate case litigation, which included securing nearly $500 million dollars from MWD for water supply projects in San Diego County, elimination of illegal charges being imposed on San Diego ratepayers and entry of a final judgment in the 2010 and 2012 cases, and awarding Water Authority almost $45 million. Madaffer also presided over efforts by the Water Authority to minimize rate increases, the development of a new agricultural water rate program to benefit the region’s farmers, and efforts to enhance communication and coordination with member agencies.

New Board Chair is a career firefighter

Incoming Board Chair Croucher joined the Water Authority Board in July 2001 and served as Vice Chair Board for the past two years. He is a member of the agency’s Administrative and Finance Committee and the Legislation and Public Outreach Committee. He’s also chair of the Colorado River Work Group and a member of the MWD Settlement Negotiations Team.

A career firefighter, Croucher retired as an assistant chief for CAL FIRE/San Diego. Croucher is chair of the Border Agencies Fire Council. He is a three-time president of the Otay Water District Board of Directors and former fire chief of the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District. Croucher also serves on the Local Agency Formation Commission’s Borders Committee. He is a past chairman of the Border Agency Fire Council, past president of Southern Area Fire Equipment Research, and he has participated on both state and federal Homeland Security programs.

Guerin is new vice chair

Christy Guerin, the new vice chair, served as Board secretary the past two years, and sits on the Water Authority’s committees for Imported Water and Legislation and Public Outreach, along with the Colorado River Work Group and the MWD Settlement Negotiations Team.

She joined the Board in 2014 representing Olivenhain, where she is a director on the board. Guerin served for a decade with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, as mayor of Encinitas from 2002-2006, and as a district director for a member of Congress. She has also served on the SANDAG board, the North County Transit District board and the board of the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority.

Board Secretary Jerry Butkiewicz

Jerry Butkiewicz, the new Board secretary, currently serves as chair of the Water Authority’s Legislation and Public Outreach Committee and sits on the Colorado River Work Group and Water Planning and Environmental committees. He is also one of the Board’s MWD Delegates and serves on the MWD Settlement Negotiation Team He joined the Board in 2016 representing the City of San Diego. Butkiewicz is the former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.

The Water Authority’s 36-member board, representing 24 retail member water agencies, holds its regular meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month January through October. The November and December meetings are combined, and this year that meeting is November 19. Board meetings have been conducted online since April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and are live-streamed on the Water Authority’s website. Board documents and webcasts of Board meetings are at www.sdcwa.org.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Recycled Water Expansion Project is Project of the Year

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Recycled Water Pipeline Extension 153A was recognized September 10 as a 2020 Project of the Year by the San Diego and Imperial County Chapter of the American Public Works Association at its virtual awards event. The pipeline extension connected the Surf Cup Sports youth soccer fields in San Diego to OMWD’s recycled water distribution system. By allowing Surf Cup to convert the irrigation of 55 acres of grass fields to recycled water, OMWD has reduced potable water demands for irrigation by up to 100 million gallons per year.