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Work is now underway on the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project. Construction is expected to last about one year. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District Water and traffic

Olivenhain MWD, City of Encinitas Work Together to Keep Water and Traffic Flowing

The City of Encinitas and the Olivenhain Municipal Water District are working together on a project that keeps water supply and traffic flowing.

To prevent water main breaks and ensure reliable service to its customers, Olivenhain Municipal Water District is proactive in its repair and replacement of aging water infrastructure.

Year-long construction project underway

Map of the 4,700 foot long stretch of improvements planned along North El Camino Real. Map: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Map shows the 4,700 foot long stretch of improvements planned along North El Camino Real. Graphic: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

In early April, OMWD began construction to replace aging water infrastructure along El Camino Real in Encinitas. The work marks the start of the El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project. Construction is expected to last about one year.

During the project, OMWD will replace approximately 4,700 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter potable water pipeline along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Garden View Road and approximately 650 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter pipeline between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive. Water service lines and fire hydrant laterals served by the existing pipelines will also be replaced.

The two pipelines being replaced were originally installed in 1961 and 1974, and are approaching the end of their lifespan.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that there more than 240,000 water main breaks in the United States every year. The main breaks waste over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water, but also interrupt water service to homes and businesses, and require costly and disruptive emergency repairs.

After OMWD’s pipeline work is complete, the City of Encinitas will implement traffic calming measures and improve safety and mobility for bicyclists along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard by restriping and narrowing travel lanes.

The work will include adding bollards to existing bike lanes, applying green color to some areas on the bike lanes, and additional signage and pavement markings will also be installed.

OMWD will implement the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas, which will take place concurrently with the pipeline replacement project.

Coordination minimizes impact on residents and businesses

The two agencies have combined efforts to maximize operational efficiencies and to reduce impacts to area residents and businesses.

Originally, OMWD’s project was scheduled to begin in 2021. Encinitas Council Member Joe Mosca and OMWD Board Treasurer Larry Watt identified the opportunity to streamline the two projects, maximizing efficiencies and minimizing impacts to the community. Because the City’s project had a deadline for grant funding, the two agencies ultimately decided it would be more efficient to advance the timeline of OMWD’s project.

“El Camino Real is a major thoroughfare and any work done there needs to be executed with maximum care and efficiency in mind to keep impacts to businesses and residents low,” said Larry Watt, OMWD board treasurer. “By coordinating the pipeline replacement project with the City’s project, the community can enjoy a continued safe and reliable water supply and improved road safety with the least disturbance possible.”

Environmental responsibility and safety

“The City of Encinitas is continuing its track record of environmental responsibility by making our streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians through the Active Transportation Enhancing Project,” said Encinitas Councilmember Joe Mosca. “The City’s partnership with OMWD on this project highlights the benefits of collaboration between neighboring public agencies on critical infrastructure projects.”

Coronavirus pandemic helps minimize impact on traffic management

Instead of conducting two projects along the same stretch of road consecutively, the City of Encinitas and Olivenhain Municipal Water District are coordinating their work to minimize disruption to the community. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Instead of conducting two projects along the same stretch of road consecutively, the City of Encinitas and Olivenhain Municipal Water District are coordinating their work to minimize disruption to the community. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

In addition to the partnership, OMWD has taken steps to minimize the impact of the project on residents and businesses along North El Camino Real. A City-approved traffic management plan will be implemented during construction. All work was originally scheduled to be completed at night to minimize traffic impacts.

As a result of the reduced traffic from the statewide stay-at-home order, the agencies adapted hours in April to 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The change allows work to be completed more efficiently and safely.

Olivenhain will work closely with the City to monitor the project’s impact on traffic on a week-by-week basis and modify the schedule as needed along with project contractor Teichert Energy and Utilities Group while still maintaining efficient operations.

OMWD anticipates a single shutdown of water service for most businesses/residences, kept as short as possible. Project updates are posted on its website. Email questions to or call 760-632-4235.

For questions specific to the City of Encinitas Active Transportation Enhancing Project, email or call 760-943-2211.

Water Utility Hero of the Week-George Crabbe-City of Carlsbad-primary

Water Utility Hero of the Week: George Crabbe, City of Carlsbad

This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential.

Water Utility Hero of the Week: George Crabbe

Job/Agency: City of Carlsbad Utility Worker II

How did you become interested in working in the water industry?

I became interested in working in the water industry a few years back when I got into the Local 89 Laborers Union as an apprentice and landed different jobs.  The jobs just so happened to be underground water utility installations.  I loved it, but I started thinking long-term and with the support of my family and friends, the pieces fell into place.  Four years later, I am here at the Carlsbad Municipal Water District.

How has your job changed during the pandemic?

Our job in the field hasn’t changed.  I am very fortunate and thankful to still be working during this pandemic.  Our water operators must continue providing safe reliable drinking water and our departments must ensure that the water is delivered with little to no interruption.  The one change in the workplace is abiding to the social distancing requirements and the new norm of wearing masks.  This has been quite an adjustment since we work in groups while doing our preventative maintenance and water service/water main breaks repairs.

How are you keeping safe?

We are keeping safe by following all the requirements for social distancing.  We wear masks and gloves, wipe down our trucks, equipment and office spaces, and we make sure to wash our hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.

What are you most looking forward to after the crisis ends?

I am looking forward to all the state parks and trails opening and being able to go out and enjoy time with my family and friends.  I am looking forward to people being able to go back to work and life going back to normal.

Editor’s note: The Water Utility Hero of the Week highlights essential work performed during the COVID-19 pandemic by employees of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies.

San Diego County Water Authority Member Agency Map

Essential Repairs Completed on Pipeline 5 in North County

The San Diego County Water Authority and its contractors have completed essential repairs on a section of Pipeline 5 in North San Diego County between Fallbrook and Escondido. The repairs included installing 156 feet of carbon fiber liner inside the 96-inch pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe to extend its service life. The pipeline was returned to normal service over the weekend – ahead of the original schedule.

Escondido Water Quality Lab Byron Odwazny, Associate Chemist, performs an analysis for total coliforms. Photo: City of Escondido

Water Quality Lab Team Rises to Coronavirus Pandemic Challenges

The coronavirus pandemic forced the City of Escondido’s Water Quality Laboratory to rethink its lab operations without compromising community health or employee wellbeing while ensuring the clean, safe, and efficient operation of the city. Through teamwork and creative thinking, the lab found success in maintaining its essential work.

“Whether we have a pandemic or not, people still want to open their taps and have clean drinking water,” said Ralph Ginese, supervising chemist with the City of Escondido.

Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility Laboratory Superintendent Nicki Branch says employee safety was addressed first.

“We immediately enforced the six-foot social distancing requirement and frequent handwashing,” said Branch. “The facility cleaning staff increased disinfection wipedown of all surfaces. We stopped having group staff and safety meetings by switching to online. We have changed our work schedule, essentially cutting it in half on a rotating schedule and allowing all employees to be able to telecommute from home periodically.”

The 14 employees have been provided additional personal protective equipment including facemasks.

“Staff is able to do administrative work, lab paperwork, study for exams, safety training, research on the industry and attend webinars,” said Branch.

Half of the staff members remain at the lab facility full-time, where they conduct analyses to verify the quality of wastewater treatment processes to safeguard community health, as well as required monthly and quarterly testing.

Unseasonal rainfall creates additional challenges

As part of ongoing monitoring at the Escondido Water Quality Lab, Associate Chemist Sarah Shapard performs tests analyzing for ammonia. Photo: City of Escondido

As part of ongoing monitoring at the Escondido Water Quality Lab, Associate Chemist Sarah Shapard performs tests analyzing for ammonia. Photo: City of Escondido

Recent heavy rains in Escondido complicated the testing process. Branch said several lab staff were placed on call in the event additional testing was needed due to a possible emergency-permitted tertiary discharge to nearby Escondido Creek due to high flows after five days of rain.

“They were all game to come in if needed on a Saturday to assist, but fortunately the operations staff worked miracles to keep us from discharging,” said Branch. “Heavy rains also caused a situation where additional sampling of lakes for drinking water analysis occurred, and the lab staff responded immediately to help the drinking water division with sampling and analysis.”

The Escondido lab routinely tests six sample sites along the outfall line.

“It’s a full-blown scan, so getting samples to contact labs would have been a real challenge,” said Ginese, crediting the work of the city’s operations staff to prevent any discharge into the creek.

“I am so proud of all the staff at the HARRF Laboratory for responding to this Covid -19 pandemic in a professional manner, adapting quickly to our City policies requiring social distancing, and for offering to come in on emergency situations when needed,” said Branch.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have increased regional coordination and communication to ensure the coronavirus pandemic does not impact safe and secure water service for San Diego County.

READ MORE: Escondido Employee Named California Laboratory Person of the Year

 

Construction Begins on Essential Water Project in Mission Trails Regional Park

The San Diego County Water Authority is making progress on the construction of a new 5 million gallon underground reservoir in Mission Trails Regional Park. The underground reservoir is also known as a flow regulatory structure.

Classified as a “critical or essential” infrastructure project during the COVID-19 response, the project is moving forward to stay on schedule.

Construction Begins on Essential Water Project in Mission Trails Regional Park

The San Diego County Water Authority is making progress on the construction of a new 5 million gallon underground reservoir in Mission Trails Regional Park. The underground reservoir is also known as a flow regulatory structure.

Classified as a “critical or essential” infrastructure project during the COVID-19 response, the project is moving forward to stay on schedule. Water Authority and contractor staff are taking heath protection precautions to maintain public safety by following COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing face masks, using hand sanitizers, and disinfecting fencing, work tools and equipment.

Construction preparation underway for water project

Recent work includes the installation of temporary office trailers at the east end of Clairemont Mesa Drive in the City of San Diego, delivery of materials, installation of eight-foot fencing around the major construction sites and placement of silt fencing around environmentally sensitive areas.

Topsoil is being removed and saved where digging is planned. This topsoil will be placed back in its original location after construction is done to encourage plant re-growth, help hold water and prevent soil erosion. Construction crews are working Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Trail closures to ensure safety of public and essential workers

Some trails in the western portion of the park are closed to ensure the safety of the public and essential workers on site. Several trail closure signs with maps have been strategically placed to help park users navigate the trails and take detours to avoid the construction area.

The project is in the western part of Mission Trails Regional Park near the Tierrasanta community. It includes building the new underground covered reservoir, a flow control facility and pipeline interconnections to upgrade the system that delivers water to treatment plants serving the central and southern areas of San Diego County. The project is anticipated to be complete in early 2022.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tours the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant after meeting with workers to thank them for their continued service. Photo: City of San DIego water treatment plant

San Diego Mayor Thanks Water Treatment Plant Employees

The City of San Diego’s public utilities team including water treatment plant employees continues to work to provide its customers with high-quality drinking water during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following efforts to increase safety measures throughout all City departments to stop the spread of COVID-19, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer toured the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant on Friday to observe increased safety protocols. He also thanked City employees as they continue to deliver safe, reliable water to over 1.4 million San Diegans.

Increased safety measures ensure continued water supply safety

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer meetes with water treatment plant workers playing essential roles in delivering safe drinking water. Photo: City of San DIego

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer meets with water treatment plant workers playing essential roles in delivering safe drinking water. Photo: City of San Diego

Mayor Faulconer kicked off his visit Friday morning by meeting maintenance staff on duty.

“Like many San Diegans, our City employees are adapting as we take on the COVID-19 crisis,” said Faulconer. “They’re working under increased safety measures so we can continue to deliver essential services, including a safe, clean and reliable water supply.

“I stopped by the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant today to thank the employees there and let them know how proud we are of all they’re doing to keep the water running for San Diegans.”

More than a month into the coronavirus crisis in California, water and wastewater treament employees, continue to work around the clock to deliver essential services to San Diego County residents.

“I am so grateful for the employees that come to work daily to make sure the City residents have access to a safe and reliable water supply,” said Shauna Lorance, City of San Diego public utilities director. “While you might not be able to go out to a restaurant, visit the beach or any of the usual activities all of us in San Diego have learned to enjoy, you do not have to worry about the safety of the water supply. The water continues to be treated and tested just like always.”

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have increased regional coordination and communication to ensure the coronavirus pandemic does not impact safe and secure water service for San Diego County.

Treatment plants employ innovative disinfection and filtration

Pipes carrying water through the treatment process at the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant. Photo: City of San Diego

Pipes carrying water through the treatment process at the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant. Photo: City of San Diego

The City of San Diego has three water treatment plants that use several treatment methods to provide safe drinking water to the public. The plants are managed by the City’s Public Utilities Department.

San Diego’s drinking water treatment plants use a combination of innovative disinfection strategies and filtration. This multi-step process provides multiple barriers against elements that could make the city’s water unsafe or impact taste.

When the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant began operation in 1951, it replaced old water treatment plants at University Heights and Chollas Heights. Located near the Murray Reservoir, Alvarado today provides drinking water to customers in the central section of the City. Plant capacity is 200 million gallons of treated drinking water per day and is operated by 16 City employees.

A multi-phase expansion and upgrade project for the plant was completed in 2011. The Alvarado Plant began its first year of active participation in the American Water Works Association’s Partnership for Safe Water Program in 2013 and has implemented several optimizing projects.

Alvarado is also home to the City’s Water Quality Laboratory, which continuously monitors the City’s drinking water to make sure it is always safe and meets all state and federal health standards.

Ten Carlsbad Water Plant Employees Live at Work for 21 Days

Millions of Californians are staying home.  Millions are working from home.

Ten are living at work.

“We have locked down the site out here. We have ten employees that are doing the job of those 42 employees,” said Poseidon Director of Communications Jessica Jones.