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Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

California Moves To Boost Recycled Water

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.

California WateReuse Action Plan

The California WateReuse Action Plan recommends strategies for increasing water recycling statewide. Graphic: WateReuse California

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.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up 26% of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

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.”

WateReuse California Symposium Sept. 8-10 in San Diego

The U.S. EPA plans to release a draft Water Reuse Action Plan to advance water reuse, at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-10 in San Diego.

Third grader Jeeanna Mendoza fro, Camarena Elementary School, won first place in the Otay Water District student poster contest in the K-3 category. Photo: Otay Water District

Otay Student Poster Contest Winners Illustrate Importance of Water-Use Efficiency

Six talented elementary school students were recognized on August 7 by the Otay Water District Board of Directors as the winners of the District’s “Water is Life” Student Poster Contest.

As one of the Otay Water District’s educational programs, the contest offers an opportunity for students to showcase their creativity while reflecting on the importance of using water efficiently in their daily lives. Students were encouraged to illustrate the value of water used both inside and outside the home as an informational poster intended to educate others.

“We’re proud to offer students this opportunity to have fun and be creative, while at the same time thinking and learning about water conservation,” said Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton.

More than 245 students from 10 different schools in the District’s service area submitted entries. The District judged the entries based on categories in two grade categories: kindergarten through third grade, and fourth through sixth grade. First, second and third prize winners were chosen from each category.

Winners received an award certificate, gift card, art kit, and a goodie bag filled with District promotional items. The lucky first place winners in each category also received a pizza party for their entire class.

The six posters winners were submitted by students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

jeeanna Mendoza, Grade 3, Camarena Elementary School (first place; K-3)

Jeeanna Mendoza, Grade 3, Camarena Elementary School (first place; K-3). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Jeeanna Mendoza, Grade 3, Camarena Elementary School (First Place; K-3)

Amerie Constantino, Grade 1, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (second place; K-3). Photo: Otay Water District

Amerie Constantino, Grade 1, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (second place; K-3). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Amerie Constantino, Grade 1, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; K-3)

Miguel-Angel Gonzalez, Grade 2, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (third place; K -3). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Miguel-Angel Gonzalez, Grade 2, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; K-3)

Maya Santana, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (first place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

Maya Santana, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (first place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Maya Santana, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (First Place; 4-6)

Malayiah Williams, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

Malayiah Williams, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Malayiah Williams, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Second Place; 4-6)

Rin Smith, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

Rin Smith, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; 4-6). Photo: Otay Water District

  • Rin Smith, Grade 5, Wolf Canyon Elementary School (Third Place; 4-6)

Otay Water District winners advance to regional contest

In addition, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s 2020 Student Art Calendar Contest rules, the District submitted five of the six winning posters to MWD’s contest. MWD will select 36 posters from its overall regional entries to be displayed in its 2020 “Water is Life” calendar. The winners will be honored at a student art exhibit and recognition event in December.

To learn more about the Otay Water District’s “Water is Life” Student Poster Contest, go to otaywater.gov/education.

READ MORE: San Diego County Students Inspire Water Conservation Through Art

Is It Too Late to Save Wild Salmon?

Some of the world’s most famous conservationists have been hunters. Teddy Roosevelt, John James Audubon, and Ernest Hemingway each have the somewhat dubious distinction of saving animals’ habitats to try to kill them. Pacific salmon aren’t often mentioned alongside Roosevelt’s elephants or Hemingway’s tigers, but in Tucker Malarkey’s Stronghold (Random House, $28), fish is the biggest game of all. Malarkey’s protagonist is a charming misfit named Guido Rahr, who also happens to be her cousin. A naturalist almost as soon as he could walk, Rahr got hooked on fly fishing in his late teens, only to realize, to his horror, that the hydroelectric dams, agricultural runoff, commercial fishing industry, deforestation, and climate change in the Pacific Northwest could bring wild salmon to extinction.

The Nieves family of Bonita are the winners of the Sweetwater Authority's 2019 Landscape Makeover Contest for theier creative WaterSmart landscaping design. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Creative WaterSmart Landscaping

Creative WaterSmart Landscaping Wins Sweetwater Authority’s 2019 Landscape Contest

Bonita residents Efren and Ily Niervas won the Sweetwater Authority 2019 Landscape Contest after transforming their front yard from a traditional thirsty expanse of lawn to a WaterSmart landscaping approach.

When the Niervas moved to their home in 2017, they realized the cost of watering their yard, with a large lawn and assorted shrubbery, was too high. They decided to change their landscape and attended home improvement events and expos as part of their research. They also did online research. The research paid off, as the Niervas thoughtfully designed their own xeriscape plan for their creative watersmart landscaping.

Creative hardscapes and colorful plant palette transform landscaping

Before: The Nieves' landscaping prior to undertaking their award-winning, watersmart redesign project. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Before: The Niervas’ landscaping prior to undertaking their award-winning, watersmart redesign project. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

With the design in hand, the Niervas began work on making the landscape transformation themselves. They purchased plants on sale, and collected small cuttings and succulents from friends and neighbors.

Knowing the soil in the yard was dry and hard, they patiently waited for wetter and softer conditions in the fall months to begin working on their yard. The landscape transformation was finally complete in March 2019. The Niervas are thrilled with the beautiful, water-saving results.

After: The stunning results of the landscaping transformation. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

After: The stunning results of the landscape transformation. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Creative watersmart landscaping

The yard design features swales in the form of rock-lined dry creek beds, which capture rainwater from roofs, driveways, and other hard surfaces to slow it down, spread it out, and allow the water to sink into the soil. Lighted flagstone pathways wind through the yard.

The design features a diverse palette of succulents, cacti, and California native plants. The Niervas completed their yard décor with beautiful ceramic containers, gazing balls, and whimsical artwork including starfish and a peacock.

The homeowners completed their yard décor with beautiful ceramic containers, gazing balls, and whimsical artwork including starfish and a peacock. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

San Diego County homeowners can take advantage of free landscaping makeover classes offered by the San Diego County Water Authority to help plan to create a colorful and watersmart landscape. Go tot the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program

A diverse palette of colorful succulents, cacti, and California native plants add to the winning design. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

A diverse palette of colorful succulents, cacti, and California native plants add to the winning design. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

READ MORE: Winning Vista Irrigation District WaterSmart Landscape Reduces Water Use

Colorful, waterwise plants replaced a thirsty, labor intensive front lawn in Deborah Brant's winning landscape makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Winning Vista Irrigation District WaterSmart Landscape Reduces Water Use

Vista resident Deborah Brandt showed how attractive water-wise landscaping can be when low-water use plants are combined with other landscape components in winning the Vista Irrigation District’s 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. District officials selected Brandt’s entry this month among many quality entries received.

The Vista Irrigation District is among 13 San Diego member agencies with landscape contests in 2019 with the goal of showcasing beautiful residential water-wise landscapes throughout the region.

Outdoor watering accounts for more than half of the residential water use in San Diego County. Homeowners can significantly reduce outdoor watering by replacing a thirsty lawn with water‑wise landscaping. While Internet research or visiting a local nursery for ideas are both helpful, seeing examples of residential garden makeovers can provide inspiration and motivation.

Contrasting watersmart elements and textures transform yard

Deborah Brandt's winning landscape includes contrasting elements, such a cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Deborah Brandt’s winning landscape includes contrasting elements, such a cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt replaced her water and maintenance-intensive lawn with WaterSmart landscaping to save money and water, and reduce the amount of time she spent on yard work. By including contrasting elements such as cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange, Brandt transformed a basic lawn into a dazzling array of textures and colors.

Brandt chose low maintenance plant varieties, including agaves, yuccas, Sea Lavender, Calandrinia Grandiflora, and ‘Sticks on Fire’ (also called ‘Firesticks’), that grow easily and require little care or trimming, providing her landscape “year round colorful contrast of form, shape and color.”

By showcasing her water-wise landscape, Brandt is providing other homeowners with great ideas about how to make their yards attractive and use less water. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Winning Vista Irrigtion District

By showcasing her water-wise landscape, Brandt is providing other homeowners with great ideas about how to make their yards attractive and use less water. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt admits she has enjoyed receiving so many compliments on her yard transformation from friends and neighbors. By showcasing her water-wise landscape, Brandt is providing other homeowners with great ideas about how to make their yards attractive and use less water.

Deborah Brandt's front yard before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Winning Vista Irrigtion District

Deborah Brandt’s front yard before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

For more information about the 2020 contest open to customers of the Vista Irrigation District and 12 other member agencies in San Diego County, along with examples of award-winning WaterSmart landscaping, go to https://landscapecontest.com/

Homeowners can take advantage of free landscaping makeover classes offered by the Water Authority to help plan and execute your own transformation. Visit the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program website for the schedule and to register.

READ MORE: Colorful Carlsbad Water-Efficient Garden Wins Olivenhain MWD 2019 Landscape Contest

 

 

 

Janet and Conrad Becks' winning design came from their desire to save water and to showcase their makeover. Photo: City of Oceanside drought tolerant gardens

City of Oceanside Selects Drought Tolerant Gardens as 2019 Contest Winners

The City of Oceanside selected Janet and Conrad Beck’s colorful, vibrant garden as its 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner. The couple transformed their plain, water-wasting lawn into a drought-tolerant garden.

The annual contest recognizes exceptional water-wise landscapes in San Diego County based on overall attractiveness, design, appropriate plant selection, and water efficient irrigation.

Makeover saves water

The winning landscape earned the Becks a $250 grand prize. The makeover evolved from the Becks’ desire to save water. The garden’s plant palette includes a wide variety of California native and drought-tolerant plants, what they now describe as a “whimsical” garden.

By also replacing their automated irrigation system, the couple realized a water savings of more than 3,700 gallons of water per month, virtually cutting their water bill in half.

Drought tolerant gardens provide habitat while saving resources

Homeowner Gerald Wharton was inspired to bring back livable habitat for native flora and fauna when creating his drought tolerant garden. Photo: City of Oceanside drought tolerant gardens

Homeowner Gerald Wharton was inspired to bring back livable habitat for native flora and fauna when creating his drought-tolerant garden. Photo: City of Oceanside

Three runners-up received honorable mentions along with nursery gift cards.

Homeowner Gerald Wharton was inspired to bring back livable habitat for native flora and fauna when creating his drought-tolerant garden. Once his plants become acclimated and more established, they require less water, and eventually, no irrigation at all.

Homeowner Kim Wascher was motivated to save money on her water bill when she transformed her landscaping. Photo: City of Oceanside

Homeowner Kim Wascher was motivated to save money on her water bill when she transformed her landscaping. Photo: City of Oceanside

Homeowner Kim Wascher first removed her lawn to reduce her water costs and the heavy maintenance that her lawn required. Her original goal grew into a comprehensive landscaping plan. Wascher exchanged her water-thirsty grass for a wildlife habitat now attracting butterflies, lizards, bugs and a variety of birds. On summer evenings, she enjoys watching bats flying through the yard.

Colorful succulents

Laura Cates moved to Oceanside several years ago after living in the U.S. Midwest. She was not familiar with succulents of any kind. But Cates said she was fed up with grass in her front-and-back yards. Her sister-in-law ‘knew her succulents,’ and her enthusiasm for the colorful, easy-to-grow, low-water-use plants grew on Cates.

Laura Cates used succulents to create her winning landscape design in Oceanside. Photo: City of Oceanside drought tolerant gardens

Laura Cates used succulents to create her winning landscape design in Oceanside. Photo: City of Oceanside

Cates is now well-known to her neighbors as a plant guru. She helps others get started with a clipping or two from her own yard. Cates said she likes to think that she’s paying it forward.

The annual WaterSmart Landscape Contest runs annually from January through April. For more information, check online at www.GreenOceanside.org

For help and inspiration to transform your landscaping, visit WaterSmartSD.org

Smart Irrigation Month Highlights Water-Efficient Technology

San Diego regional water agencies are sharing water-efficiency tips during “Smart Irrigation Month.”

July is traditionally the month of peak demand for outdoor water use and the reason it was chosen as Smart Irrigation Month when it started in 2005. The month celebrates the social, economic, and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation for landscapes, recreation and agriculture.

July is "Smart Irrigation Month," designed to call attention to efficient irrigation techniques to preserve the world's fresh water supply. Photo: Irrigation Association

Smart Irrigation Month Highlights Water-Efficient Technology

San Diego regional water agencies are sharing water-efficiency tips during “Smart Irrigation Month.”

July is traditionally the month of peak demand for outdoor water use and the reason it was chosen as Smart Irrigation Month when it started in 2005. The month celebrates the social, economic, and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation for landscapes, recreation and agriculture.

Smart Irrigation Month highlights irrigation technology innovations and encourages water-efficient irrigation techniques to preserve the world’s fresh water supply.

Member agency activities for Smart Irrigation Month 2019

The Otay Water District is participating in "Smart Irrigation Month" education via its social media channels and website. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District is among those participating in “Smart Irrigation Month” education via its social media channels and website. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District is helping its customers increase water-use efficiency during Smart Irrigation Month with a dedicated webpage of tips. Customers can apply for a free WaterSmart Checkup by calling 760-728-1332 or at watersmartcheckup.org

The Helix Water District also offers free home water use checkups to its customers by phone 619-667-6626 or email

And, the City of Oceanside Water Utilities Department is hosting a free Smart Irrigation Workshop at Mira Costa College on Saturday, July 13. The event has reached capacity, but customers can all 760-435-5816 to get on a waiting list and be notified about future events.

Nine Watering Tips For #SmartIrrigationMonth

Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes. Photo: Irrigation Association

Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes. Photo: Irrigation Association

July is an ideal month to perform a check on current irrigation systems and determine whether any practices can be improved to save water. The San Diego County Water Authority offers these nine Smart Irrigation Month tips:

  • Select sprinkler heads and nozzles that apply water uniformly to the target area.
  • Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes.
  • Upgrade to a smart controller. Weather and soil moisture-based controllers can automatically adjust your watering schedule based on the conditions at your location.
  • Use drip or low pressure, low volume irrigation which applies water directly to the base or roots of plants.
  • If water is applied too quickly, it can run off into the street or sidewalk. Smart irrigation regulates water pressure, ensuring water has a chance to soak into the ground.
  • Less is more when watering turf. Water long enough to soak down to the root zone, then don’t water again until the soil is completely dry. If the grass springs back when you step on it, it has enough water.
  • The greatest waste of water in landscape irrigation comes from watering too much, too fast. Instead of watering 20 consecutive minutes, run sprinklers in four five-minute sessions. This allows water to soak into the soil and minimizes runoff.
  • A rain shut-off device is an inexpensive gadget to add to your sprinkler system.
  • Improve efficiency by watering at the coolest time of day. When it’s hot or windy, more than a third of the water can be lost to evaporation.

Find more tips and information on Smart Irrigation Month at WaterSmartSD.org

 

Agave attenuata is one of the plants available to qualified Fallbrook PUD customers in its new plant voucher program. Photo: Fallbrook PUD plant vouchers

Fallbrook PUD Offers Plant Vouchers For Sustainable Landscaping

The Fallbrook Public Utility District will offer residents in its service area free low-water or drought-tolerant plants beginning July 1. The district will give qualified residents vouchers redeemable for plants at Silverthorn Ranch Nursery in Fallbrook, which produces plants using recycled water.

“Customers will go through an application process and qualified applicants will receive free plants to install in their landscape,” said Mick Cothran, Fallbrook Public Utility District engineering technician. “We want to encourage and help our customers replace turf with plants that don’t require a lot of water, and show them drought tolerant plants can be beautiful additions to their landscaping.”

The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have encouraged homeowners to implement sustainable landscaping through free ‘WaterSmart’ landscaping classes, and through a variety of rebate programs.

Online application for plant vouchers posted starting July 1

A list of the plants being offered through FPUD’s program is included on its website. Choices include plants like this Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrada). Photo: Fallbrook PUD

A list of the plants being offered through Fallbrook’s program is included on its website. Choices include plants like this Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata). Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

An online application will be posted on the FPUD website starting July 1, and submissions will be processed on a first-come, first served basis. Applicants will also be required to submit two photos of the area(s) to be planted, and a basic plan or sketch of the project.

Sustainable landscaping

A list of the plants being offered through FPUD’s program is included on its website. Choices range from five-gallon Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) and Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata) to Mini Elephant’s Food (Portulacaria afra ‘Mini’), Silver Dollar Jade (Crassula arborescens), and small succulents including assorted aloe, aeonium, and echeveria.

San Diego County residents have embraced sustainable landscaping practices as a result of increased attention to water conservation, due in part to recurring periods of drought over the past thirty years.

The FPUD program is made possible with grant funding provided by two Metropolitan Water District of Southern California grants through the Water Authority.

Conservation Has Saved 4.8 Million Acre Feet Of Water Since 2003

Since 2003, Imperial Irrigation District has conserved almost 4.8 million acre feet of water, mostly through water transfers and agreements. A 1988 agreement between IID and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California near Los Angles has amounted to 1.56 million of that amount since 2003 at the Imperial Dam.