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San Diego to Re-Evaluate La Jolla’s Water Needs Before Proceeding With Reservoir Replacement Project

After a series of meetings, the La Jolla View Reservoir project is taking a brief hiatus so the scope of what will be needed from La Jolla’s next reservoir can be determined. New findings are expected to be released in mid- to late April.

Pure Water Oceanside-Potable Reuse-Sustainability Sustainble Building Week

SD Sustainable Building Week Features Water Reuse Projects

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

Helix Water District's R.M Levy Water Treatment Plant

Purified water from the East County Advanced Water Purification Project will undergo additional processing at Helix Water District’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant after being be piped into the district’s Lake Jennings reservoir. Photo: Helix Water District

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.

Panelists include:

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.

Registration to attend the program is free. Attendees can RSVP and receive a link for the presentation on the SDGBC Sustainable Building Week website.

Watershed Survey Helps Maintain San Diego Regional Water Quality

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.

Watershed areas such as the land around the El Capitan Reservoir was assessed in the 2020 Watershed Survey by the City of San Diego. Photo: City of San Diego

Watershed Survey Helps Maintain San Diego Regional Water Quality

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

Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity like grazing cattle at this area near the Sutherland Reservoir, is part of the watershed. Photo: City of San Diego

Everything that is on the land, whether a natural feature or a human activity like grazing cattle at this area near the Sutherland Reservoir, is part of the watershed. Photo: City of San Diego

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.

Six of San Diego County's watershed regions lie within the City of San Diego boundaries. Map: City of San Diego

Six of San Diego County’s watershed regions lie within the City of San Diego boundaries. Map: City of San Diego

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.

San Diego May Propose 28 Percent Sewer Rate Hikes for Single-Family Homes

Sewer rates for San Diegans in single-family homes would increase nearly 19 percent next year and a total of 28 percent over the next four years under a new city proposal.

Audit: San Diego’s Effort to Inspect Industrial Polluters is Outdated, Inefficient

A San Diego program that aims to keep toxic sewer water out of the Pacific Ocean suffers from outdated methods and inadequate efforts to identify and inspect the business sites of industrial polluters, a new city audit says.

The 56-page audit says the program, which oversees industrial polluters served by San Diego and 12 other local sewer districts, needs to step up efforts to find polluters and modernize its inspection program.

Welcome to the Board: Ismahan Abdullahi, City of San Diego

Ismahan Abdullahi was seated on the Board of Directors on January 25, 2021, representing the City of San Diego. Director Abdullahi serves on the Administrative and Finance and Engineering and Operations committees for the Water Authority.

Ismahan Abdullahi-City of San Diego-Welcome to the Board

Welcome to the Board: Ismahan Abdullahi, City of San Diego

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights new members of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 36-member Board of Directors. Each of the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies appoints at least one representative to the Board, which sets policy for the Water Authority.

Welcome to the Board: Ismahan Abdullahi, City of San Diego

Who: Ismahan Abdullahi was seated on the Board of Directors on January 25, 2021, representing the City of San Diego. Director Abdullahi serves on the Administrative and Finance and Engineering and Operations committees for the Water Authority.

Background/Education: Abdullahi earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology at UC San Diego and a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in counseling at San Diego State University. She serves as the Executive Director of MAS-PACE (Muslim American Society-Public Affairs and Civic Engagement). She also serves on the board of local community based organizations and institutions, with more than a decade of nonprofit experience.

Q & A

Q: How did you get interested in water issues?

A: Water is life itself. It is one of the key elements that is often taken for gratitude when it is available in abundance and sought after when it is limited. My interest in water issues is deeply personal. As a refugee from Somalia, I know the impact inadequately sanitized or treated water can have on families, introducing diseases such as cholera. We’ve seen how water contaminants and unsafe water (such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan) has disproportionately impacted Indigenous, low-income and communities of color, particularly our Black and Brown communities. As a community advocate and organizer, I’ve seen the impact that rate increases and high water bills continue to further inequities in refugee, immigrant, and poverty stricken communities. My interest in water lies in my lived experience and over a decade of engaging in community work and seeing that impact firsthand.

Q: What are your priorities or interests as a Board member?

A: Policies and decisions made regarding water reliability, access, quality and safety have a direct impact on the lives of everyday San Diegans who are trying to thrive. I sincerely hope to bring an equity centered lens that honors both our environment and our communities. As a board member, I want us to bring forth creative solutions that meet the needs of our ratepayers and our region for generations to come. The COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated the very inequities we knew existed before, leaving many San Diegans left with immensely high water bills. Equitable access to water, an inclusive and community centered space that prioritizes ratepayers and our environment and reliable and safe water for our future remain top priorities for me.

Q: Besides maintaining safe and reliable water supplies, what do you see as the top three issues facing the San Diego region?

A: Our region needs to adopt a racial equity framework in how it conducts business. In our region, we are facing a worsening housing crisis, climate emergency and the lack of a guaranteed living wage for the very people that are the backbone of our economy. We must be bold in our solutions and intersectional in facing our challenges. We cannot tackle our issues as a region without an intersectional equity framework.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?

A: My passion outside of working is to enjoy nature and reading. A nice walk at the beach, hike or quality time spent with loved ones in the outdoors is always a joy and a blessing.

The Water Authority’s Board of Directors typically meets on the fourth Thursday of each month. The Board invites the public to attend its monthly meetings and to comment on agenda items or other matters before the Board. For meeting times, agendas and documents, go to www.sdcwa.org/board-directors.

Public Input Requested for San Diego Water Plan

San Diego is seeking input from the public on a new water plan introduced by Mayor Todd Gloria. Under the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan, the city would develop more than half of the city’s water locally by 2045.

We’re About to Drink Recycled Water But Don’t Know What’s in it

I’ve been writing a lot about the broken sewage system in Tijuana causing spills into San Diego. Part of the concern, San Diego officials told me, is that Mexico lacks a system to monitor whether businesses are dumping toxic waste into the sewer system.

That’s part of the reason why it’s risky to reuse any of that river water because, if we don’t know what’s in the water, we can’t be sure how to best treat it.