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The Sweetwater Authority will use innovative technology to flush all 400 miles of its system pipelines. Pnoto: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority Taps Innovative Technology to Ensure Water Quality

The Sweetwater Authority recently began a multiyear water main flushing program using innovative technology to clean all 400 miles of pipeline in its system. It’s part of Sweetwater Authority’s use of the latest technology to deliver a safe, reliable water supply to its South San Diego County customers.

Water main flushing cleans pipeline interiors by sending a rapid flow of water through them. Sweetwater’s program is the first in the region to use a new, innovative technology resulting in less environmental impact.

“We’re committed to providing our customers with high-quality water, ensuring that every drop meets safety standards and protects public health,” said Tish Berge, Sweetwater Authority general manager. “We’re also dedicated to providing the safe, reliable water through the use of best available technology and sustainable practices.”

See the system in action in the following video. A Spanish language version is also available.

New method avoids storm drain discharge

Traditional flushing methods release water from fire hydrants at a high speed in order to flush out naturally occurring sediments accumulating in water pipes over time. Although the sediment itself is harmless, it can eventually affect water color and taste. The water used to clean the pipes often cannot be captured and ends up in the storm drain system.

The bulk of Sweetwater Authority‘s flushing program now eliminates the need to discharge water from fire hydrants during the cleaning process while delivering the same results.

With the closed-loop system and increased controls, crews are able to effectively and thoroughly flush large sections of pipeline with a single setup and staging area. This more efficient setup is less labor-intensive and allows the crew to maintain a safe hub for operations. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

With the closed-loop system and increased controls, crews are able to effectively and thoroughly flush large sections of pipeline with a single setup and staging area. This more efficient setup is less labor-intensive and allows the crew to maintain a safe hub for operations. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Crews identify all pipes, valves, and fire hydrants located in the area to be flushed. Next, crews connect one end of a hose to a hydrant and the other end of the hose to the no discharge, or NO-DES flushing unit. The process repeats, connecting a second hose to another hydrant and the other end back into the flushing unit, creating a temporary closed loop.

Once the NO-DES flushing unit is turned on and the hydrants are open, water will push through the loop at high pressure, disrupting any accumulated sediment on the inside of the pipes. The water is pushed through a series of sock-like filters, which remove those sediments and return clean, high-quality water back into the system.

Crews closely monitor the filtration system and water quality to determine when flushing of each pipeline segment is complete.

Innovative technology, efficient and environmentally responsible

Additional member water agencies have indicated an interest in the cost-effectiveness of purchasing the NO-DES flushing units for the region and collaborating to create a shared-use program with the technology. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Additional member water agencies have indicated an interest in the cost-effectiveness of purchasing the NO-DES flushing units for the region and collaborating to create a shared-use program with the technology. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

With the closed-loop system and increased controls, crews are able to effectively and thoroughly flush large sections of pipeline with a single setup and staging area. This more efficient setup is less labor-intensive and allows the crew to maintain a safe hub for operations.

In the National City area 75.8 miles of pipeline was recently flushed. Crews are now completing work in the Bonita area, and then will start work in Chula Vista.

Additional water agencies have indicated an interest in the cost-effectiveness of purchasing the NO-DES flushing units for the region and collaborating to create a shared-use program with the innovative technology.

“Securing a local water supply to ensure the water delivered is of the highest quality through the best technology in our projects and programs helps to maximize value for our customers while also being sustainable,” said Berge.

For more information on the program, go to www.sweetwater.org/flushing.

Helix Water District Logo Square

Regional Collaboration on Water Purification Project Expands Local, Drought-Proof Supply of Drinking Water

The Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized its General Manager to sign water purchase agreements for the East County Advanced Water Purification project at a special meeting on May 27, 2020.

San Diego Food Bank-Virtual Food Bank-Covid-19-primary photo

San Diego Regional Water Agencies Help Fight Hunger During Pandemic

An effort to bolster food bank supplies and fight hunger in San Diego County is getting a helping hand from the region’s public water agencies.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies are supporting a virtual food drive in partnership with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. The campaign allows donors to select and purchase items such as canned meats, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter and oatmeal for distribution to needy residents. To donate, go to www.bit.ly/SDWaterAgencyFoodDrive.

The Water Authority Board leadership launched the effort for staff and Board members in late March, then expanded it by inviting 24 retail member agencies countywide to join the effort to fight hunger. So far, approximately $20,000 has been contributed through donation portals established by the Water Authority and member agencies.

Help fight hunger

In addition, water agencies have partnered with the Food Bank to inform its clients that it is unnecessary to purchase bottled water when convenient, clean drinking water is available 24/7 at the tap for about a penny a gallon.

“The region’s water industry is committed to sustaining our community in this time of acute need,” said Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “The San Diego region has come together time and again to meet challenges such as wildfires, and we’re doing the same to provide hunger relief during this crisis.”

Demands for food increase during pandemic

The San Diego Food Bank typically helps feed 350,000 people each month at 200 distribution sites — and demands have skyrocketed as the economic impacts of coronavirus closures ripple across the region.

Donations to the San Diego Food Bank are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. The San Diego Food Bank is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Essential workers on the job

In response to the pandemic, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have increased regional coordination and communication to ensure continued delivery of safe and reliable water service for San Diego County. Public water supplies in the region remain safe to drink due to numerous robust treatment processes used by local and regional water providers.

As essential workers, the region’s water and wastewater system employees will continue to work to ensure safe and reliable water services.

San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Chair Jim Madaffer-primary-View from the Chair

Jim Madaffer: Strategic Steps to Address Emerging Fiscal Realities

Across the country, public agencies are scrambling to fill holes created by the pandemic – financial holes and, worse yet, holes in the workforce. It is safe to assume, until a vaccine is developed or an antibody treatment is found, we are living the new normal.

As we hope and pray that the worst days of the coronavirus are behind us, I am so thankful that the Water Authority took aggressive early action to protect employees and that we have had no COVID-related illnesses. I’m also grateful to report that our region’s water treatment and delivery systems are in good shape, and that they continue to provide clean, safe drinking water 24/7 due to the efforts of a few thousand employees of the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. These dedicated public servants are doing their jobs day and night, despite numerous personal and logistical challenges.

That said, our region’s water agencies are collectively facing serious declines in revenues; businesses are not using water as expected, which means water sales have plummeted. Unlike some other industries, most of our costs are fixed. In fact, the Water Authority’s operating departments only account for about 6 percent of the budget.

This means that even when water sales drop, we still must pay the “mortgage” on the system – from pumps to pipes to filtration and whatever other costs we cannot control, such as increases from our water suppliers or higher costs for energy and treatment chemicals. For instance, we expect the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to raise rates in San Diego County by more than 7 percent in 2021 despite our pleas for relief on your behalf.

Details about the financial impact of coronavirus will take weeks or months to emerge, but the Water Authority is already taking proactive steps to address anticipated challenges, from instituting a hiring freeze to assessing which non-essential projects and expenses can be deferred. I assure you that we are working every day to sustain our core mission to maintain the many values that we provide our region and make smart choices to ensure our long-term viability.

It is not an easy task, but we have 75 years of history that say we can do this together – and I know we will.

On a hopeful note, the region’s water agencies have joined forces to raise thousands of dollars for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank through voluntary donations by board members and employees. We’re always looking for opportunities to raise more money given the ongoing significance of the need. Click here to donate – and do not forget to share the link with family, friends and others who may want to participate. Every dollar helps feed those in need.

View From The Chair represents the viewpoints of Jim Madaffer, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors.

Coronavirus Doesn’t Jeopardize Tap Water, but it Might be Carried in Raw Sewage

Tap water is more strictly regulated than the bottled water being hoarded, officials say. Tap water is treated specifically to remove infectants like the new coronavirus, which “is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

California Attorney General Becerra Says EPA’s Proposed Standards for Lead in Drinking Water Fails the Test Americans Expect

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a 10-state coalition, on Wednesday filed comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed amendments to nationwide standards for controlling and remediating lead in drinking water, also known as the Lead and Copper Rule. The EPA’s proposed revisions represent the first major amendments in a generation to the Lead and Copper Rule, which was first promulgated in 1991. Although some of the proposed revisions strengthen the 1991 rule, others weaken existing requirements and fail to adequately protect the public from lead in drinking water.

Protecting California’s Clean Waters

Water is life. It is essential to the survival of all living things and has been at the center of my work for over three decades as a public servant. I did not select this cause arbitrarily, but because our communities were suffering, and no one was speaking out about safe, clean water supplies for residents of the San Gabriel Valley and greater east Los Angeles County.

OPINION: All Californians Deserve Clean Drinking Water

For years a million Californians have watched tainted, dirty water flow from their taps. These residents, overwhelmingly poor, Hispanic and living in small Central Valley towns, drive long distances to load up on bottled water for everyday basics. It’s shameful that in a state this rich, people still have to share shower water and schools have to plug up their drinking fountains. Thanks to overdue political attention, legislative horse trading and a dose of budget legerdemain, that situation is finally changing. Gov. Gavin Newsom showcased the final step with a bill signing in the aptly named hamlet of Tombstone in Fresno County.

California Governor Signs Bill To Clean Up Drinking Water

California’s governor on Wednesday signed a law that will take up to $130 million of state money each year that was supposed to clean up the air and instead use it to clean up drinking water. Despite its status as the world’s fifth largest economy, California has struggled to provide the basic service of clean tap water to more than 1 million of its residents. The problem is most acute in the Central Valley, the heart of the state’s $20 billion agriculture industry, where large farms have polluted water sources for mostly rural communities.

California Senate Approves Clean Drinking Water Fund

The California Senate on Monday sent legislation to Gov Gavin Newsom’s desk that will spend $130 million a year over the next decade to improve drinking water for about a million people.