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Pandemic Reigns as Top Concern for California Issuers

More than 18 months into the pandemic, COVID-19 still reigns as the most pressing concern for California issuers.

During a panel discussion Tuesday at The Bond Buyer’s California Public Finance virtual conference, every discussion involved the pandemic in some way.

Oceanside Launches Ratepayer Relief Program On August 2

The City of Oceanside announced the Oceanside Ratepayer Relief Program in response to financial hardships of the pandemic. The program will launch Monday, August 2, 2021, and will offer a one-time credit to eligible customers who are behind on their utility bill.

At the start of the global pandemic, Oceanside suspended late fees and water shutoffs; the Ratepayer Relief Program is going one step further to support customers. Funding for the program comes from a $2.3 million settlement received by the City as a result of litigation between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District that challenged rates charged for the delivery of water from 2011 to 2014.

Five Things to Know About Newsom’s budget Deal with Legislature

California lawmakers voted tonight to approve a record-busting state budget that reflects new agreements with Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand health care for undocumented immigrants, spend billions to alleviate homelessness and help Californians still struggling through the pandemic.

The $262.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was fueled by a $76 billion state surplus and $27 billion in federal aid. Democrats who control the Capitol wanted to use the windfall to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic and its uneven toll on Californians.

The Importance Of Planting Drought-Tolerant California Native Plants In Your Garden

Nurseries made record sales during the coronavirus pandemic as many people looked to pick up gardening as a new hobby.

However, most plants people grow come from outside of California and can be harmful to nature, especially monarch butterflies. Many people don’t realize that California native plants can bring their yards to life, with butterflies, hummingbirds and more.

The Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley is leading the movement to transform the state’s landscape by promoting drought-friendly plants that will still thrive in people’s yards. It’s a unique nursery in that all its plants are native to California.

Student Photographers Capture Water

Thirteen talented student photographers creatively captured the importance of water in their homes and in the context of the coronavirus pandemic in Sweetwater Authority’s 2021 High School Photo Contest.

Winners were selected from 50 students from South San Diego Bay high schools who submitted more than 100 entries in two categories: black and white, and color photography. In each photo, water plays a central part in favorite activities and quality of life.

First Place, Color: Winner Kayla Rosenberg, a freshman at Hilltop High School, said her entry “Sunshine Shower” portrayed the family dog' sense of fun. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Student Photographers Capture Water

Thirteen talented student photographers creatively captured the importance of water in their homes and in the context of the coronavirus pandemic in Sweetwater Authority’s 2021 High School Photo Contest.

Winners were selected from 50 students from South San Diego Bay high schools who submitted more than 100 entries in two categories: black and white, and color photography. In each photo, water plays a central part in favorite activities and quality of life.

The water agency acknowleged it was an unusual year and thanked students for their contributions during an unusual school year.

“This year’s contest was unique, in that we asked students to reflect on the meaning of water in their homes and in the context of the pandemic,” said Leslie Payne, Sweetwater Authority public affairs manager. “The entries we received and their accompanying essays reflected not only on the importance of water but also of the ability of art to uplift us all during difficult times.”

 Top Honors for student photographers

Color Photography

First Place, Color: Winner Kayla Rosenberg, a freshman at Hilltop High School, said her entry “Sunshine Shower” portrayed the family dog’s sense of fun. Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

First place winner Kayla Rosenberg, a freshman at Hilltop High School, said her entry “Sunshine Shower” shows how her family uses water to have fun. “During the long hot days, I usually turn on the hose to water the grass and plants. But, my biggest dog just can’t resist the shower of water.”

Second Place, Color: Chula Vista High School sophomore Araceli Romo portrayed her love for watercolor painting in “Watercolor Wonderland” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Chula Vista High School sophomore Araceli Romo portrayed her love for watercolor painting in “Watercolor Wonderland.” Her photo won second place.

Third Place, Color: Trinity Fuentecilla, Eastlake High School, “Water for Roots” Photo Courtesy: Sweetwater Authority

Alia Kircher, a senior at Bonita Vista High School, said her photo “Roots” depicting a plant’s roots growing in water “symbolizes how water keeps us alive.”

Black & White Photography 

First Place, Black and White: Mariah Journigan, Bonita Vista High School, “Shelter In Place” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Junior Mariah Journigan of Bonita Vista High School described her winning photo “Shelter In Place” in her entry essay: “Every drop of water in this picture represents two things: The chaos and uncertainty in the past year during COVID-19, and the daily lifeline it has been to us at home … Having water to wash our hands has been a lifeline and nothing less than an essential part of my daily life this past year.”

Second Place, Black and White: Airyl Van Dayrit, Sweetwater High School, said “Water’s Vibrant Shades” represents both the comfort of water as an essential element along with the realities of water pollution and scarcity. Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Second Place winner Airyl Van Dayrit a senior at Sweetwater High School, said “Water’s Vibrant Shades” represents both the comfort of water as an essential element along with the realities of water pollution and scarcity.

Honorable Mention: Trinity Fuentecilla, 9th Grade, Eastlake High School – “Tree Branch View." Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Honorable Mention: Trinity Fuentecilla, 9th Grade, Eastlake High School – “Tree Branch View” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Trinity Fuentecilla, a freshman at Eastlake High School, won third place for her photo “Water for Roots,” celebrating a new love of plants developed during the pandemic.

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention: Esteban Robledo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Let’s Take a Leap of Faith." Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Honorable Mention: Esteban Robledo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Let’s Take a Leap of Faith” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Color Category

  • Gregory Aguilar, 10th Grade, Chula Vista High School  “Afternoon at Morrison Pond”
  • Joaquin Angulo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School  “Water + Plants = Happiness”
  • Mariah Journigan, 11th Grade, Bonita Vista High School – “Detox”
  • Ashley Marquez, 11th Grade, Chula Vista High School – “Spring Blossom”
  • Itzlamin Reta, 9th Grade, Sweetwater High School – “Flower Droplet”
  • Esteban Robledo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Let’s Take a Leap of Faith”
Honorable Mention: Kaitlyn Vu, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Thirst Quencher." Photo: Sweetwater Authority Student Photographers

Honorable Mention: Kaitlyn Vu, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Thirst Quencher” Photo: Courtesy Sweetwater Authority

Black and White Category

  • Mariah Journigan, 11th Grade, Bonita Vista High School – “Refresh From The Stress”
  • Trinity Fuentecilla, 9th Grade, Eastlake High School – “Tree Branch View”
  • Joaquin Angulo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Wash Your Hands”
  • Mayra Huezo, 11th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Water Uses”
  • Kaitlyn Vu, 12th Grade, Hilltop High School – “Thirst Quencher”

Judging was done through a blind selection process by Sweetwater Authority staff members and Bonita Museum & Cultural Center Director Wendy Wilson. First-place winners in each category were awarded $400; second place, $300; third place, $200; and $50 for Honorable Mention.

The winning photos are displayed in a slideshow. A special exhibit at the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center will showcase the winning photographs from May 15 through June 12.

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

High School Photo Contest Winners Highlight Importance of Water at Home

Chula Vista, Calif. – Thirteen local high school students will be honored for their award-winning photographs at tomorrow night’s Sweetwater Authority Board Meeting. The winners were selected from a group of 50 students from high schools across South Bay who submitted over 100 entries for the Authority’s annual High School Photo Contest. This year’s contest challenged students to creatively showcase through photography the importance of water in their homes, and in the context of the pandemic.

Positioned for the Future: San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl

There have been many surprises and unanticipated outcomes in the long wake of the pandemic. Like most workplaces, the San Diego County Water Authority had to quickly adapt a year ago, and that process continues to evolve under the leadership of General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. In a conversation with California Water & Power, Kerl discusses how her organization has embraced change and continues to prepare for the future.

Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. Concerns about water affordability, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. The crisis heightened the financial vulnerability many ratepayers face and spotlighted the larger issue of affordability. Some water agencies have devised workarounds to help customers, but so far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.

Helix Water District Logo Square officers for 2021

Helix Water District’s New Customer Assistance Program Starts Today

The Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program starts today, April 5, and offers a one-time credit of up to $300  to help Helix Water District’s residential customers  who live in a single-family home, are behind on their water bill and can demonstrate loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.