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State Awards $15 Million for San Diego Regional Water Projects

The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water recycling and reuse to water conservation.

The San Diego County Water Authority submitted the funding request on behalf of the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program, or IRWM. The San Diego IRWM Program began in 2005 as an effort by water agencies, wastewater agencies, stormwater and flood managers, watershed groups, business leaders, disadvantaged communities, tribes, agriculture, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve water resources planning in the region.

The statewide IRWM Program is supported by bond funding from the California Department of Water Resources to fund competitive grants for projects that improve water resources management.

Collaboration with county agencies, nonprofits improves water supply and conservation

“These grants will provide much-needed funding for important local water supply projects and water-use efficiency measures, along with a disadvantaged community project in National City,” said Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “Regional collaboration by the Water Authority and a host of partners makes these projects possible. Once again, this shows how San Diego County is stronger together.”

Madaffer praised the San Diego IRWM Regional Water Management Group and the Regional Advisory Committee for their work over the past year to secure the $15,336,336 grant. Since 2008, the San Diego region has secured more than $111 million in funds for 74 high-priority water management projects through the IRWM process. The projects help to achieve goals established in the San Diego IRWM Program and the Water Authority’s Urban Water Management Plan.

The following regional water projects will receive funding in the current round:

  • Paradise Valley Creek Water Quality and Community Enhancement, City of National City, Flood Damage Reduction, $3,681,056
  • Pure Water Oceanside, City of Oceanside, Water Supply–Groundwater, $3,115,000
  • North County Recycled Water Project, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $2,820,000
  • North City Pure Water Facility Influent Pump Station and Conveyance Pipeline, City of San Diego, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $1,477,600
  • 2020 Regional Water-Use Efficiency Programs, San Diego County Water Authority, Water Conservation, $1,440,000
  • San Elijo Stormwater Capture & Reuse, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $1,195,000
  • Lower Santa Margarita River Indirect Potable Reuse Pilot Project, Fallbrook Public Utility District, Water Supply–Recycled Water, $687,500

In addition, the grant allocates $920,180 to the Water Authority to administer the grant.

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The Paradise Valley Creek Water Quality and Community Enhancement project in the City of National City is among water projects receiving state grant funds. Graphic: City of National City

Regional approach to create resilient and diverse water supply portfolio

“By working together for more than 12 years, the regional IRWM Program has created a legacy of collaboration by public agencies and nonprofit organizations in the region to increase the long-term reliability and resiliency of the San Diego region’s water supply and diversify our local supply,” said Mark Stadler, San Diego regional IRWM program administrator. “Investing in water reuse, water efficiency, and conservation projects are key parts of our success to ensure a regional approach to integrated watershed management.”

On November 4, 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. Proposition 1 authorized $510 million in IRWM funding. Funds are allocated to 12 hydrologic region-based funding areas.

The Proposition 1 IRWM Grant Program, administered by DWR, provides funding for projects that help meet the long-term water needs of the state, including:

  • Assisting water infrastructure systems adapt to climate change;
  • Providing incentives throughout each watershed to collaborate in managing the region’s water resources and setting regional priorities for water infrastructure; and
  • Improving regional water self-reliance, while reducing reliance on Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“Water is such a vital resource, that it is critical we continue to take action to ensure communities have access to clean water supplies, reliable flood protection and healthy ecosystems.” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth when announcing the San Diego regional grant on July 3. “These grants will support agencies and projects to continue local momentum in creating a more diverse water supply portfolio, strengthening partnerships and addressing climate change.”

Fallbrook PUD Board Members Tour Construction Project

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, public agencies have found creative solutions to holding meetings in compliance with the State of California’s meeting laws. Recently, Fallbrook Public Utility District board members stepped away from their video screens, using the opportunity to take a field trip to view a new project while conducting a traveling board meeting.
The Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project is a joint project with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and will eventually supply about 30% of the District’s water, and virtually all of Camp Pendleton’s water.
The Fallbrook PUD Board tour group initially drove from the FPUD administration building to the Alturas Road plant and then traveled along the pipeline alignment before arriving at the Gheen Pump Station. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utilities District

Fallbrook PUD Board Members Tour Construction Project

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, public agencies have found creative solutions to holding meetings in compliance with the State of California’s meeting laws. Recently, Fallbrook Public Utility District board members stepped away from their video screens, using the opportunity to take a field trip to view a new project while conducting a traveling board meeting.

The Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project is a joint project with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and will eventually supply about 30% of the District’s water, and virtually all of Camp Pendleton’s water.

Fallbrook PUD board members view construction project

Construction of the first section of pipeline on Merida Drive is part of the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project. This segment of pipeline between Alturas and Mission roads is about 4,500 linear feet and is 35% installed. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utilities District Fallbrook PUD Board

Construction of the first section of pipeline on Merida Drive is part of the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project. This segment of pipeline between Alturas and Mission roads is about 4,500 linear feet and is 35% installed. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

At the time of the tour, the project had been under construction for 250 days. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions, board members and others who attended the traveling meeting stayed in their cars. While behind the wheel, board members wove through parts of Fallbrook to follow the path of the new pipeline. With their smartphones turned on and hands-free, representatives followed each other in a single file parade while listening to a live conference call with the project contractor.  Board members learned about construction progress, and saw where and how the pipe will be installed.

The tour and the project began at the treatment plant on Alturas Road, where bulldozers and heavy machinery are moving earth to build the pipeline and a water treatment plant. The pipeline will transport water from the plant through parts of central Fallbrook, ending at McDonald Road. The project also includes a new four million-gallon storage tank, where the tour ended. Participants discussed the possibility of a subsequent tour to view ongoing progress with construction of the facilities.

The entire construction process will take approximately two years to complete, with the pipeline becoming fully operational by 2022.

LAFCO Approves Detachment Review Committee

San Diego’s County’s Local Agency Formation Commission approved a committee to review issues regarding the proposed detachment of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District from the San Diego County Water Authority.

An 8-0 LAFCO board vote June 1 approved the composition of the committee, although LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds will appoint the specific members and the list of tasks for the committee.

“We have agreement with the County Water Authority, Rainbow and Fallbrook,” said county supervisor Dianne Jacob, who is the chair of the LAFCO board.

“We have consensus on the tasks. I think we have a working agreement on the composition,” Simonds said.

FPUD Board Tours Conjunctive Use Project Sites

The five Fallbrook Public Utility District board members were given a tour of FPUD’s Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project sites May 29.

Because a majority of the FPUD board members were present, it was legally required to be a noticed public hearing and the tour was officially a special meeting of the FPUD board. Although members of the public were welcome to attend they would have been required to remain in their own cars or trucks due to the coronavirus quarantine, but they would have been able to hear the audio communications.

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Water Authority Board Supports Protections for Ratepayers and Property Owners

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors on May 28 voted to support a comprehensive evaluation of the impacts of detachment proposals by the Rainbow and Fallbrook water districts to ensure that ratepayers and property owners in those districts and the rest of the county are protected from potential impacts and given a meaningful opportunity to engage in the process.

That evaluation – under development by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO – should cover financial, water supply reliability, governmental, and environmental impacts, and it should ensure that the public and all affected agencies across the region can weigh in, according to the Water Authority Board resolution.

Read the entire resolution and related documents at www.sdcwa.org/lafco-detachment.

CWA Approves Detachment Conditions Resolution

The San Diego County Water Authority will oppose the detachment of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District from the SDCWA unless certain findings can be made.

A May 28 SDCWA board vote approved a resolution that the CWA will oppose the detachment unless it can be demonstrated that FPUD and Rainbow can guarantee that all obligations promised to their own ratepayers are met, that the detachment will not adversely affect the other 22 CWA member agencies or the county as a region, that the detachment and annexation into the Eastern Municipal Water District will not increase reliance on the Bay-Delta, and that the detachment will not reduce the CWA’s voting power at Metropolitan Water District of Southern California board meetings.

“This resolution does not oppose these detachment applications. It lays out a process to thoroughly review,” Sandra Kerl, general manager of CWA, said. “Today’s resolution is intended to get the ball rolling.”

LAFCO Approves Public Vote for FPUD-Rainbow Detachment

When the proposal for the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority and annex to the Eastern Municipal Water District is heard by San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission, a public vote will follow any LAFCO board approval.

LAFCO’s board voted 8-0 to call for a public vote, May 4, and the motion also included the creation of a technical advisory committee. LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds will draft proposed tasks for the committee and a proposed membership composition, and LAFCO is scheduled to approve that criteria June 1.

Water Pros Working Round the Clock To Ensure Service

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

From the Fallbrook Public Utilities District south to the Sweetwater Authority and east to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, essential employees at the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies continue to maintain vital water systems and perform emergency repairs so customers have the water they depend on during this time.

Toilet Paper Shortage Could Impact FPUD, Rainbow Sewer Systems

The shortage of toilet paper is causing some residents to utilize other wiping substances and, when toilets are flushed with some of those alternatives, local sewer lines are impacted.

“The primary issue we have when people do that is backups in the sewer,” Jack Bebee, general manager of Fallbrook Public Utility District, said.

“We’ve seen an increase in our maintenance needs related to dealing with items such as flushable wipes,” Tom Kennedy, general manager of Rainbow Municipal Water District, said.

“Paper towels are not particularly made either to get through the sewer system,” Bebee said.

Scratch paper, wax and other materials have been flushed down toilet drains and into the sewer systems.

“We find all sorts of things in there,” Kennedy said.

“Clogs have been caused by that,” Bebee said.

“We see the flushable wipes more than anything else. They’re not flushable. They might say flushable on the package, but they’re not flushable,” Kennedy said. “It doesn’t degrade. You need things that are biodegradable.”