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Sweeping Support: San Diego’s Street Sweeping Program Balances Water Quality and Pandemic Needs

In order to make the most of street sweeping programs, many communities pair their street sweeping efforts with a parking restriction schedule. In March and April, as states implemented stay-at-home orders and business either closed, reduced hours, or moved their employees to remote work, may communities modified their sweeping programs—either pausing sweeping entirely or, as is the case in San Diego, California, pausing parking enforcement.

Pure Water Oceanside-US EPA loan-Water Recycling

Pure Water Oceanside Recycling Project Gets $69 Million EPA Loan

The Pure Water Oceanside project is getting a $69 million loan from the U.S. EPA that will finance nearly half of the project’s construction cost.

EPA officials announced the loan at an event today in Oceanside attended by federal, regional and local officials.

The innovative water reuse project will purify recycled water to create a new source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and sustainable. It also will benefit the environment by reducing discharges into the Pacific Ocean. Construction and operation of the plant is expected to create 622 jobs.

Scheduled to be completed in 2022, Pure Water Oceanside will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County. The project will provide more than 32% of the City of Oceanside’s water supply, or 3 to 5 million gallons per day.

Sustainability, drought-proof water supply

“The City of Oceanside is proud to be a leader in sustainability and water reliability,” said Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss. “Pure Water Oceanside marks the next big step for our City as the project will safeguard against drought, reduce our dependence on imported water, and create an exceptionally pure drinking water supply.”

“I appreciate the U.S. EPA in their funding support as it is a critical aspect for Oceanside’s ability to continue to improve our local water supplies while minimizing our impact to our ratepayers,” said Weiss.

Loan supports infrastructure investments

“At the City of Oceanside, we are focused not only on today, but also are committed to planning for tomorrow to ensure future generations will have access to high-quality drinking water,” said Oceanside Water Utilities Director Cari Dale. “This loan will be instrumental in moving our Pure Water Oceanside project forward to completion and aligns with our long-term goal to have 50% of our city’s water supply be locally sourced by 2030.”

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to help finance the Pure Water Oceanside Project comes at a critical time, as the federal government, EPA, and water industry work to offset the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19.

The Pure Water Oceanside project is estimated to cost $158 million, and the WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that cost, according to the EPA. The remaining project funds will come from a combination of grants, water system revenue backed obligations, and system funds.

“EPA’s support for this project illustrates two agency priorities as we work to meet 21st century water demands — reusing the water that we have and revamping our nation’s water infrastructure,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “With WIFIA’s support, Pure Water Oceanside will be a landmark project as EPA looks to foster additional innovative water reuse strategies and infrastructure investments across the country.”

Pure Water Oceanside-EPA Loan-Water Recycling

“I am proud and excited for the City of Oceanside and everyone who has worked so hard on the Pure Water Oceanside project,” said Congressman Mike Levin, who represents north San Diego County. “Now more than ever, it’s critically important that we diversify our water supply. Thanks to Pure Water Oceanside, the City of Oceanside, and this EPA loan, we are one step closer to achieving that independence. This is an extraordinary milestone and will make a huge difference for countless families in North County.”

National Water Reuse Action Plan

The water reuse benefits of the project highlight commitments made under the National Water Reuse Action Plan—a collaborative effort and the first initiative of its magnitude aimed at strengthening the sustainability, security and resilience of our nation’s water resources. The Action Plan frames the business case that water reuse is a viable and growing means of supporting our economy and improving the availability of freshwater for farmers, industry, communities, and ecosystems.

“By improving water infrastructure, we are improving the quality of life and public health in our communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA is happy to support the Pure Water Oceanside Project in ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water for decades to come.”

MWD Approves Cost-Cutting Plan

The board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Tuesday approve a cost-cutting plan to reduce expenditures in response to lower water sales and concerns about the financial impacts of COVID-19 on its member agencies.

Opinion: Metropolitan Water District Can Do Better for Southern California Amid COVID

Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of uncertainty and anxiety, but also a time of compromise and collaboration. We have all been asked to make sacrifices both big and small for the greater good — face masks, changing business operations, remote work, outdoor dining and countless other accommodations.

Public agencies — especially those that deliver an essential commodity like water — should operate in the same collaborative spirit to protect ratepayers and offer relief during the continuing economic fallout.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have taken action to protect ratepayers by implementing strong cost-cutting strategies to limit rate increases without sacrificing a safe and reliable water supply or the ability to plan for the future.

FPUD Staff Receives Bebee’s Performance Bonus

Jack Bebee, general manager of Fallbrook Public Utility District, earned his performance bonus but will not receive that money.

A 5-0 FPUD board vote, Aug. 24, gave the $5,000 that Bebee would have received to the rest of FPUD’s staff. Each staff member will receive a $75 stipend.

“Instead of paying me a performance bonus this year, we divided the money that was set aside,” Bebee said. “My recommendation to the board was to do that. They’re incurring more challenges during this period that I am.”

When all staff positions are filled, FPUD has 67 employees including Bebee. Three positions are currently vacant, so 63 FPUD employees will receive a stipend.

Second place winner Kylie Barbosa created a colorful illustration of bright flowers surrounded by a rainbow and multi-colored rain drops. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District water awareness poster contest

Fourth Grade Artists Win Water Awareness Poster Contest

Three fourth grade student artists were honored by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board of Directors at its September 9 meeting as the winners of the District’s 2020 Water Awareness Poster Contest.

This year’s theme asked students to illustrate how they “Love Water, Save Water.”

The district annually invites fourth-grade students living or attending school within the Olivenhain Municipal Water District service area to enter the contest. Because of the change to distance learning in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the contest deadline was extended to June 15. Six classes from the district’s service area participated.

“We have been holding this poster contest for nearly three decades,” said OMWD board member Bob Topolovac. “This year, the classroom setting may have changed, but it’s reassuring to see that the students’ creativity and excitement for water conservation is as strong as ever.”

The 2020 water awareness poster contest winners

 

Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District water awareness poster contest

Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

First Place – Ruchika Kench, Stone Ranch Elementary. Ruchika Kench’s poster depicts the planet Earth surrounded by handwritten messages portraying the value of water and the importance of preserving water for all to enjoy.

Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Second Place – Kylie Barbosa, Stone Ranch Elementary. Kylie Barbosa created a colorful illustration of bright flowers surrounded by a rainbow and multicolored raindrops. She pledges to drink water from a reusable bottle and to take shorter showers.

Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District water awareness poster contest

Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Third Place – Ryan King, Flora Vista Elementary. Ryan King drew an image of a person fishing with a sunset and a heart in the background. He recommends collecting rainwater to irrigate plants as a way to conserve water.

Kendra Jones, the first place winner’s fourth-grade teacher, also received a $50 gift card to Lakeshore Learning Store for classroom supplies. New 2021 calendars featuring the winning artwork will be available to the public for free from the Olivenhain Municipal Water District in December.

Adapting to the ‘New Normal’ In a Post-COVID Water Sector

Beyond all the health-related impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — masks, social distancing, work from home scheduling, etc. — there have been some ripple effects to the daily operations and related employment conditions for water-treatment personnel. This synopsis of experiences provides perspective and outlines some opportunities and approaches for water-industry professionals to adopt if they have not already done so as part of the post-COVID ‘new normal’.

A New Kind of College Exam: UCSD is Testing Sewage for COVID-19

Turds tell tales, and UC San Diego is listening.

As the beginning of the school year nears, the university is preparing to ramp up its testing of sewage for the coronavirus. The goal: Monitor the progress of the pandemic on campus and catch outbreaks before it’s too late to control them. Along those lines, UCSD on Saturday sent out its first campus-wide email alert about the detection of the virus in sewage from one of its seven colleges.

San Diego County Water Authority Seeks Rate Relief at MWD

With the recession and the COVID-19 pandemic causing economic havoc nationally and across Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority has adopted several cost-cutting strategies to reduce rate increases and it’s asking the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to do the same.

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

Help Us Reduce Water Rates

As my two-year term as the Water Authority Board chair winds down, it’s my pleasure to update you on two important efforts that are underway for the betterment of the San Diego region.

First of all, our Board voted unanimously last week to spend a few more months discussing and assessing a study of a new regional water conveyance system to deliver our high-priority Colorado River supplies from the Imperial Valley. The work we’ve done over the past year shows the project would produce billions of dollars in potential savings over several decades – and we plan to use the next few months to outreach to stakeholder communities about this study, address questions raised in recent weeks and seek Board direction in November.

Ultimately, the questions are bigger than a new aqueduct – they are about how we sustain our economy and quality of life at a reasonable cost. A new multi-benefits conveyance system is one potential solution – but if not that, then we must grapple with equal intensity over whether it makes sense to pay ever-increasing costs (over which we have no control) to the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to deliver our water for generations, or whether a plan based mainly on local water generation is financially feasible.

The other big issue this month is related – my request that MWD adopt rate relief measures this fall that reduce our water costs. Put simply, despite the recession and the COVID-19 pandemic MWD has not enacted the same kind of rate relief as the Water Authority, which froze hiring, deferred non-essential projects and significantly reduced travel – among other steps. In the end, we limited rate increases to 4.8-4.9 % for 2021 – and more than 60% of that is directly attributable to MWD.

Now, we’re asking MWD to take a similar approach, recognizing that we’re all in this together. We aren’t prescribing the strategies for MWD. We’re just asking that the nation’s largest water agency help its customers, and we’re pledging that any rate relief MWD provides will be passed directly to our member agencies. You can view the letter I sent to MWD at www.sdcwa.org/support-rate-relief-mwd.

I invite you to help move this conversation forward by encouraging MWD to find meaningful cost savings this fall that are reflected in its budget. Please take a moment to do so at www.sdcwa.org/support-rate-relief-mwd by submitting a letter of support for rate relief.