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California Drought 2022: Two Water Districts Eye Hefty Colorado River Cuts

Two powerful Southern California water districts are actively negotiating an agreement for hefty voluntary cuts of Colorado River supply to farmers and reduced delivery of water to greater Los Angeles, as part of urgent efforts across seven states and Mexico to stave off the collapse of the drought-stricken river system that provides drinking water and irrigation for nearly 40 million people.

Responding to a June mandate from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for all those who rely on the river to cut 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of water usage within 60 days, Imperial Irrigation District and Metropolitan Water District officials are negotiating “around half a million, between 400,000 and 500,000 acre-feet” in combined reductions, IID general manager Enrique Martinez said on Monday.

How to Properly Install Irrigation for a New Water-Saving Home Landscape

Successfully installing water-saving irrigation starts long before you get out your tools. You need to complete an assessment of your landscape plan’s specific water needs, draw a complete plan showing the layout, then select your irrigation and purchase your irrigation equipment. If your soil needs amendments (and it almost certainly does), you must get this done first. With all of this important prep work complete, you can start to implement the design.

Water-Use Efficiency Rebates for Businesses

As extreme drought grips the Southwest, businesses across California are taking a variety of water-saving actions. The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer business rebates and other incentives to help businesses save money while saving water.

San Diego News Fix: Why California Can’t Just Conserve its Way Out of the Drought

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board spoke with executives from the San Diego County Water Authority on Tuesday.

They discussed rate increases, what’s needed to secure California’s water future, and why we can’t conserve our way out of the drought.

Plus, they give tips on the one thing we should all be doing to improve our water situation.

Rebates-Businesses-Drought-Water Conservation

Water-Use Efficiency Rebates for Businesses

As extreme drought grips the Southwest, businesses across California are taking a variety of water-saving actions. The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer business rebates and other incentives to help businesses save money while saving water.

State ban on commercial turf

The state’s watering ban was put into place on May 24, 2022 and applies to non-functional turf grass defined as grass that is “solely ornamental” and not regularly used for recreational purposes or community events. The restriction does not apply to yards at individual homes and includes exemptions for sports fields and grassy areas made for community gatherings. Watering trees is allowed and encouraged. Enforcement of the state regulations is at the discretion of the local water agency.

Incentives for business property owners

From turf conversions to incentives for converting industrial water systems to recycled water service, there are numerous opportunities to improve water efficiency on commercial properties. To learn more and find more details, visit SDCWA.org. Available rebates and resources for business property owners include:

  • Through a partnership between the County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program and the San Diego County Water Authority, businesses in unincorporated areas of the county are eligible for newly enhanced water-use efficiency rebates in 2021. The Waterscape Rebate Program saves money for residential, commercial, and agricultural customers who make landscape upgrades to improve the region’s climate resilience.
  • SoCalWaterSmart’s Commercial Turf Replacement Program offers great incentives to HOAs and commercial business landscapes. Businesses that convert 1 acre or more of irrigated landscapes, can also apply for the WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program which offers rebates for irrigation devices such as controllers, nozzles, and drip irrigation.
  • The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California On-Site Retrofit Program provides financial incentives to public or private property owners to convert potable water irrigation or industrial water systems to recycled water service.
  • Certified landscape irrigation auditors provide free, on-site inspections, or WaterSmart Irrigation Checkups, and written site-specific water-saving recommendations for qualifying commercial properties in the Water Authority’s service area.

San Diego has reliable supply

Declining water availability on the Colorado River and worsening drought conditions statewide underscore the importance of collective actions to ensure reliable water supplies.

“We are committed as a region to answering the Governor’s call to step up conservation efforts in the face of extreme hot and dry conditions statewide,” said Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher. “We are collaborating with the Department of Water Resources’ Save Our Water program, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and our 24 member agencies on public outreach and education efforts this summer to stop water waste and increase conservation efforts to stretch our water supplies.”

The San Diego region has prepared for dry periods and water supplies will continue to sustain the San Diego economy and quality of life. The San Diego County Water Authority is working with its partners at the regional, state, and federal levels to advance water management solutions for the Southwest.

Details on the Water Authority’s programs and drought response and on state regulations go to sdcwa.org.

Manchester Pipeline Projects Continue with Installation of Recycled Water Pipeline

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is beginning construction this week on a new recycled water pipeline in Encinitas along Manchester Avenue and South El Camino Real from Via Poco to Tennis Club Drive. Once complete, customers connecting to this new pipeline will irrigate with recycled water, which will reduce demand for imported potable water by more than 10 million gallons every year.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District-recycled water pipeline-construction

Manchester Pipeline Projects Continue with Installation of Recycled Water Pipeline

Olivenhain Municipal Water District is beginning construction this week on a new recycled water pipeline in Encinitas along Manchester Avenue and South El Camino Real from Via Poco to Tennis Club Drive. Once complete, customers connecting to this new pipeline will irrigate with recycled water, which will reduce demand for imported potable water by more than 10 million gallons every year.

Recycled water is a sustainable water source that reduces the region’s dependence on imported water. OMWD is currently meeting approximately 14% of its total water demands using locally supplied recycled water for irrigation.

Recycled water pipeline

“Recycled water is a critical tool in our effort to diversify our water supply and reduce the impacts of drought,” said OMWD Board President Larry Watt. “By converting from potable to recycled water for irrigation, this project has become yet another example of how we can significantly reduce our potable water consumption.”

This new pipeline is an element of the larger North San Diego County Regional Recycled Water Project — a collaborative effort among nine North County agencies that coordinate across jurisdictional boundaries. The water that OMWD will deliver through the new pipeline is produced at San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility in Cardiff.

Cost-effective for water ratepayers

OMWD has aggressively sought grant funding for this project to make it cost-effective for ratepayers. The efforts have been successful, with OMWD achieving $1,350,000 from California’s Department of Water Resources for two separate segments of the pipeline, and approximately $400,000 from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program.

The project is expected to be completed in 2023 and progress updates can be found at www.olivenhain.com/projects and by following OMWD on Facebook and Twitter.

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Manchester Avenue potable water pipeline replacement project completed

Earlier this year, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District completed the Manchester Avenue Potable Water Pipeline Project. In total, 3,700 linear feet of aged potable water pipeline was replaced along Manchester Avenue, Rancho Santa Fe Road and Encinitas Boulevard.

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

Escondido Landscape Makeover Winner Goes from Weeds to Wow

When Jeanne Reutlinger moved to her Escondido home in 2019, the neglected front yard was full of weeds, baked by the sun, and car exhausts from the street. Three years later, Reutlinger’s vision and hard work for a natural low maintenance habitat created a pollinator’s paradise full of native plants. Her efforts won the 2022 City of Escondido’s Landscape Makeover Contest.

Jeanne Reutunger transformed a neglected front yard into a beautiful native garden and the winner of the 2022 City of Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest. Photo: City of Escondido

Escondido Landscape Makeover Winner Goes from Weeds to Wow

When Jeanne Reutlinger moved to her Escondido home in 2019, the neglected front yard was full of weeds, baked by the sun, and car exhausts from the street. Three years later, Reutlinger’s vision and hard work for a natural low maintenance habitat created a pollinator’s paradise full of native plants. Her efforts won the 2022 City of Escondido’s Landscape Makeover Contest.

When Jeanne Reutlinger moved to her Escondido home in 2019, the neglected front yard was full of weeds, baked by the sun and car exhausts from the street. Photo: City of Escondido

When Jeanne Reutlinger moved to her Escondido home in 2019, the neglected front yard was full of weeds, baked by the sun and car exhausts from the street. Photo: City of Escondido

“I wanted to do my own planting and create a colorful water-wise garden to attract butterflies and small birds,” says Reutlinger. At age 84, she got a helping hand transforming the “forlorn lawn” full of weeds, ruts, and dead tree roots from her grandson, John, who helped with extensive plantings. He also assisted his grandmother in creating a natural bird bath from an old tree stump that the birds love.

Creativity, ingenuity, and patience pay off

The award-winning design used plant cuttings and other cost-saving measures. Photo: City of Escondido

“I did the flower, succulent, small shrub and ground cover planting myself over the past three years. It has been a continual work in progress,” said Reutlinger. “I planted colorful heat tolerant plants and clippings from friends and neighbors that require little water and thrive in the heat. I collected rocks and cast-off bricks to make several different beds for my plantings. I dig around each plant and make a berm of soil to hold the water in to prevent runoff.”

Reutlinger said the cost for the makeover was minimal due to her creativity and by tackling the work herself. “It is easy to start plants from cuttings and saves money if one is patient to nurture the little cuttings,” said Reutlinger.

Native garden nurtures pollinators

The native plant garden attracts pollinators including endangered Monarch butterfliest. Photo: City of Escondido landscape makeover

The native plant garden attracts pollinators, including endangered Monarch butterflies. Photo: City of Escondido

The yard is filled with California Poppies, giant Gazania Daisies (which reseed themselves constantly), and marigolds which Reutlinger replants each year with seeds from the previous year’s flowers. Reutlinger planted bougainvillea, rosemary, sea lavender, lantana, succulents, and multiple milkweed varieties. Reutlinger adds seasonal colorful nursery flowers in the spring to enjoy during cooler, rainier weather.

“The many birds with their cheerful songs that enjoy my birdbath in the mornings are a delight,” said Reutlinger. “It is a joy to see the many Monarch butterflies that have made their home in my yard with the various milkweed plantings in my garden. I have been able to watch the full life cycle of the Monarch from egg to growing caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful adult butterfly right in my own yard.”

Colorful yard draws compliments

The results of Jeanne Reutlinger’s hard work benefit her entire neighborhood. Photo: City of Escondido

Reutlinger says she gets compliments from her neighbors, who enjoy the beauty and color her yard adds to the neighborhood. “It was once a bleak and barren corner and has now been transformed with a lot of love and enjoyment over the years into a water-wise habitat for birds and butterflies and it gives smiles to all who pass by,” she said.

Reutlinger chooses to hand water her plants, allowing her to control the amount of water each plant receives. She also relishes what she calls sunshine therapy. “Hand watering gets me out of the house every day to enjoy my garden and soak up the vitamin D and get the exercise and movement that my 84-year-old self needs,” said Reutlinger.

Up to 80% of local household water consumption is outdoors. The annual Landscape Makeover Contest aims to inspire residents to consider a landscape makeover by showcasing the beauty and variety of water-efficient landscapes.

Interested residents can learn more about WaterSmart Living, including the 2023 contest and classes on the WaterSmartSD website.

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

Plant Installation Brings Your New WaterSmart Landscape to Life

With your new WaterSmart landscaping plans complete, demolition and turf removal done, and your new irrigation system in place, it’s time to get started on the plant installation. For most homeowners, this is the most rewarding part of the process seeing your new landscaping come to life.