Local Contest Opportunities For Sweetwater Authority Customers Highlight Importance of Water

Chula Vista, Calif. – Sweetwater Authority (Authority) is currently offering two contest opportunities for customers. Both the annual High School Photo Contest and WaterSmart Landscape Contest are now open for entries.

“The Governing Board is proud to offer these yearly contest opportunities to customers as a way to celebrate the importance of our most precious resource – water,” said Board Chair Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. “These contests further the Authority’s goal of serving our community through education and outreach.”

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Winter Weather Perfect Time for WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series

December rainfall and cooler temperatures in San Diego County make it the perfect time of year for homeowners to create low-water-use landscaping to fit their needs. The San Diego County Water Authority offers its first 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series of free online classes starting Wednesday, February 2. The classes provide homeowners site-specific knowledge, skills, and confidence to transform their thirsty turf yard into a beautiful, climate-appropriate, water-efficient space.

Registration for the four-class series closes on Monday, January 17. Register at There is no fee to participate, but course participation is limited.

Custom plans and one-on-one professional guidance

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This landscape makeover winner shows how contouring your landscaping can help retain and conserve water. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Water Authority Water Resources Specialist Joni German said the course will give participants a customized roadmap to follow.

“We have different templates and themes to design the garden you want,” said German. “Do you need turf for the kids or pets? A meditation space? Or do you want to screen out undesirable views? With our help, you design the landscape that fits your lifestyle.”

Ideal time for new plants

German said with soils now soft and spongy, it’s the ideal time of year to add new plants and creating a new water-wise landscape.

As part of the course, participants will receive a site visit prior to the class, a preliminary onsite CAD drawing of their property to work with during the class, and one-on-one coaching from landscaping professionals.

Turf rebate programs offer rebates of up to $3 per square foot toward project costs for upgrading existing turf. To date, several hundred homeowners have transformed their landscapes into beautiful, climate-appropriate mini-watersheds which yield benefits including stormwater runoff reduction and lessening green waste in addition to saving water.

Positive participant feedback for free program

Eileen Koonce says she was able to install her own landscaping with the help she received from instructors. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Eileen Koonce says she was able to install her own landscaping with the help she received from course instructors. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

German said the program has evolved through the years in part due to feedback from previous participants, including information about capturing rainwater and cutting back on irrigation.

“People frequently say to us, ‘I can’t believe this program is free!’ Recent participants tell us the time flies, and they go from feeling overwhelmed to confident about their landscape projects,” said German.

Vallecitos Water District Development Services Coordinator Eileen Koonce participated in the course as a new homeowner to reduce her water usage by removing her thirsty front lawn.

Koonce said she enjoyed working with the instructors.

“They bring the language down to the do-it-yourselfers,” said Koonce. “They walk you through every part of it and if you have questions, they can help you out. You feel empowered because you can understand the process.”

Landscaping design and planining

Landscaping designers can expedite your landscape makeover plans. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Koonce tackled most of the design work herself with the help of instructors, who are licensed landscape architects. Instructors helped Koonce pick out the plants and choose an irrigation system.

After participants sign up for the four-class course, a site visit will take place with a local, licensed landscape specialist who will create a professionally-drawn site plan of your specific project area. The plans becomes a personal road map to navigate through the classes. Before the class concludes, homeowners get one-on-one coaching to help select plants and finalize their plan.

Watch the preview video

Homeowners with questions about the course can email or call (858) 598-5085 for information. Space is limited so homeowners are encouraged to apply now at 

(Editor’s note: The Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, and the Padre Dam Municipal Water District are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

PWP Asks for Public Hearing on 7.1 Percent Water Rate Increase

Pasadena Water and Power is seeking approval from the City Council to raise water rates by 7.1 percent starting in April this year, and by an additional 7.2 percent to start in January 2023.

PWP said the rate adjustments are necessary in order to increase revenue in the midst of higher costs for water purchased from the Metropolitan Water District, reduced sales due to Pasadena’s assertive conservation goals, and the higher costs for operating and maintaining the City’s water supply systems.

Higher Rates for LADWP’s Biggest Water Users Are Now in Effect

Water-hogging customers in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power service area will see higher bills this year.

Effective Jan. 1, LADWP began charging its heaviest water users as much as $3.60 more for every 748 gallons they take from their taps. Water bills for customers who use lower amounts will stay roughly the same as last year.

Sen. Bill Dodd Introduces Remote Water Monitoring Bill

Sen. Bill Dodd introduced a new remote water monitoring bill this week aimed at encouraging more efficient use of water.

With California experiencing longer and more frequent droughts, the new legislation that was authorized on Wednesday will allow for the remote sensing of water diversions and create a more accurate measurement of available resources, according to a press release from Dodd’s office.

Sierra Could Get 80 More Inches of Snow By Christmas

Snow, snow, snow!

The folks at UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab have been tracking the fluffy white stuff and predict that Christmas will be the snowiest day of the week.

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Otay Water District Announces New Year’s-Themed Instagram Photo Contest to Highlight the Importance of Water During the State Drought

Spring Valley, Calif. – The Otay Water District has launched a New Year’s-themed Instagram photo contest as one way to help make the community aware of water-saving efforts during the drought. The District encourages participants to use their creativity and share photographs of how they plan to save more water in 2022.

Federal Drought Funding Includes $40 Million to ‘Stabilize’ Lake Mead Water

A federal plan to spend $210 million on water conservation programs includes $40 million for “conserving 500,000+ acre-feet of water over the next two years to stabilize the decline of Lake Mead.”

The plan also includes $10 million for efforts to suppress wildfires in the West.

Some In California Have to Limit Their Daily Water Usage to 55 gallons. Here’s What That Means for Everyday Activities

Extreme drought in California is forcing drastic measures on the 200,000 residents in Marin County. They have been told to cut their water usage to just 55 gallons a day.

A 10-minute shower uses about 25 gallons. A load of laundry uses 40 gallons of water. A single sprinkler head can spray out 15 gallons per minute.

The new restrictions mean no refilling swimming pools or fountains. Residents can’t wash their car in their driveways, and outdoor irrigation is prohibited.

Fallbrook homeowners select their free succulents thanks to a Fallbrook Public Utilities Department program. Photo: FPUD

Drought-Tolerant Plant Giveaway Popular in Fallbrook

More than 130 people took advantage of a drought-tolerant plant giveaway program offered by the Fallbrook Public Utility District. Since picking up their free succulents in November, homeowners have started their drought-tolerant home garden projects.

Participants were provided empty flats and invited to select from an assortment of three-inch potted succulents to suit their needs. Each person took home approximately 28 plants.

More than 130 Fallbrook residents could take advantage of the giveaway program. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

The hardy, brightly colored succulents help people transform their landscaping by replacing thirsty plants and turf. Drought-tolerant plants ease the workload of gardening and add beautiful color while also saving water.

The program was made possible thanks to grant funding from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The plants were sourced locally from Silverthorn Nursery, which uses FPUD’s recycled water to irrigate.

Fallbrook homeowners save water with succulents

Homeowner Peggy Hanne sent in a photo of her freshly planted succulents. Photo: FPUD

Homeowner Peggy Hanne sent in a photo of her freshly planted succulents. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

“Thank you for the plants. They are doing really well,” said homeowner Peggy Hanne, who proudly shared a photo of her transformed garden.

Maryanne Polyascko, a retired Fallbrook teacher, said she was so grateful for the plants and having less weed-pulling, watering, and gardening to do.

Maryanne Polyascko takes her free succulents home. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Other homeowners reported using the plants to protect their properties.

“I planted them to stabilize the ground behind my house from erosion,” said Mike Osborne. “I filled in all the areas that were devoid of vegetation.”

In addition to being drought-tolerant, succulents are also considered a smart choice in wildfire-prone areas. San Diego-based author and horticulturalist Debra Lee Baldwin is an expert on succulent gardens and recommends their use as a firebreak. While the plants alone won’t save a home from burning, “Surrounding a house with water-filled plants can serve as one more weapon in a homeowner’s arsenal against wildfire,” writes Baldwin.

The Fallbrook Public Utility District will be eligible again in two years to apply for more grant funding to offer another plant giveaway.

(Editor’s note: The Fallbrook Public Utility District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)