The Padre Dam Municipal Water District has been name a 2020 "Utility of the Future Today" for its water reuse initiatives and its workforce development efforts. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam Named Utility of the Future Today

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s leadership in the development of water reuse as well as its strong workplace culture received national recognition with a 2020 Utility of the Future Today award. The award honors substantial excellence in the operation of water sector services.

“We are honored to be recognized as a groundbreaking agency in the area of water reuse,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam general manager and CEO. “This distinction highlights our ongoing commitment to innovative improvements in service of our customers.”

The Utility of the Future Today program celebrates the achievements of water utilities transforming from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve. It was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Water reuse efforts recognized

Padre Dam Municipal Water District has been recycling water since 1958. The District’s Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility produces around two million gallons per day of recycled water.

Padre Dam is now working on a regional water and wastewater solution in a collaborative partnership between Padre Dam and the County of San Diego, City of El Cajon, and Helix Water District to expand on the history of water reuse through the East County Advanced Water Purification Project.

The project will create a new local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify recycled water and diversify East San Diego County’s water supply, while reducing the region’s dependence on imported water. This new water supply will provide approximately 30% of East County’s water demand, and nearly eliminates the discharge of East County’s treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Padre Dam is currently the Program Administrator for the regional East County Advanced Water Purification Program.

Workplace culture fosters collaboration

Utility worker Sarah Hargis and her workgroup in the Padre Dam wastewater division are essential workers who ensure the wastewater collection system is functioning correctly. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Utility worker Sarah Hargis and her workgroup in the Padre Dam wastewater division are essential workers who ensure the wastewater collection system is functioning correctly. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s strong organizational culture of collaboration, learning, service, and transparency also received recognition. The award cited Padre Dam as an agency that encourages the ongoing learning process and the improvement of its workforce in the planning and decision process. This culture empowers every employee to think creatively, cultivating an organizational culture of innovation.

Padre Dam has enjoyed a successful and progressive workforce partnership with management, labor, and its Board of Directors for decades. Over the last several years, the District invested in the reinvention of its internal workforce development program to meet the changing needs of its modern workforce.

Now called the “Pipeline,” the program embraces a philosophy enabling broad-based participation in the organization’s decision-making processes.

“The Pipeline relies on the primary principle that we can better serve our customers by conducting activities in a collaborative and transparent manner,” said Carlisle. “Long before our employees became essential workers providing vital services during the pandemic, Padre Dam recognized their tremendous value to our organization. This award is for each and every one of our employees who have performed in an exemplary way when they were needed most.”

water recycling-national recycling day

New Water Recycling Videos on National Recycling Day

National Recycling Day on November 15 celebrates and promotes recycling practices to reduce waste and decrease energy demands, ultimately preventing pollution and fighting climate change. This year, the Water Authority partnered with the Southern California Water Coalition to promote water recycling.

National Recycling Day brings new video series

The Water Authority and other SCWC members, worked through the Coalition’s Recycled Water Task Force, along with other water districts and agencies in Southern California to create a new video series. The informative video series was created to educate the public on the use of recycled water in Southern California. The three-part video series shares a simple message – Water: Too Precious to Use Just Once.

The short videos explain the basics of water recycling and its importance as part of a diverse set of solutions employed by water agencies and local governments to stretch limited water resources. The series describes what water recycling is, how it is safe, and how it is used and will be used in the future.

“This new video series is the result of many water agencies and experts working in partnership to promote inclusive educational outreach about the safety and importance of water recycling in our communities,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist for the Water Authority and a member of the Recycled Water Task Force.

Water Too Precious to Use Just Once

Water recycling is the process of taking water that has already been used and treating it to levels safe for further beneficial use. Recycled water is highly regulated, and its use must comply with strict environmental and safety rules and requirements.

Thanks to advancements in water treatment technologies, reycled water is used to water landscapes, for commercial and industrial processes, and to recharge underground aquifers. Recycled water is also tapped for potable reuse through reservoir augmentation.

Water recycling is key to the region’s future

Recycled water is one more tool in the San Diego region’s water portfolio approach to provide a resilient water supply in the face of a changing climate. The  Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have increased the region’s water supply reliability through diversified and innovative technologies like water recycling.

The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have promoted the advancement of water recycling and potable reuse in San Diego County by developing educational resources such as and obtaining outside funding from the Metropolitan Water District’s local resource program, and local, state, and federal grant and loan opportunities. Over the last year the Water Authority Board supported local potable reuse projects such as Pure Water San Diego, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, and Pure Water Oceanside.

The video series was made possible through funding provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the work of members of SCWC’s Water Recycling Task Force video subcommittee, comprised of representatives from the San Diego County Water Authority and other agencies throughout Southern California.