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Lake Jennings - East County Advanced Water Purification Program - Woranuch Joyce

Water Agencies Approve Funds for East County Advanced Water Purification Project

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward after a new funding agreement was approved.

The program’s partner agencies – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, Helix Water District and the County of San Diego – recently approved the Interim Funding Agreement. The final vote from the County of San Diego took place July 10.

The project is expected to begin producing water in 2025.

Purified water reduces dependence on imported water

The agreement requires each agency to commit $2.35 million ($9.4 million total) toward the program, with the aim to create a new, local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.

“This is an important milestone toward the completion of this innovative and much-needed program, said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Working together with our partners, we are moving one step closer to reducing our dependence on imported water and putting the mechanisms in place to support our economy and quality of life well into the future.”

Sustainable drinking water project

An artist's rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Gourtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District water repurification water reliability

An artist’s rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Courtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Once complete, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will generate up to 11.5 million gallons per day of new drinking water. This represents approximately 30 percent of current drinking water consumption for residents within the Padre Dam service area (Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest), and the Helix service area (including the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, and El Cajon, and the Spring Valley area). This represents approximately 373,000 residents.

The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally, and then purify the recycled water at an advanced water treatment facility using four advanced water purification steps producing water that is near-distilled in quality. The purified water will then be blended with water in Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

Industry Day planned for prospective designers and contractors

Next steps for the project include formation of a Joint Powers Authority between Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, and the County of San Diego to serve as the governing body for the program.

An industry day is being planned in mid-August to provide notice to prospective designers and contractors on the initiation of a selection process for the progressive design-build packages that will begin posting in Fall 2019.

Partner agencies also continue to pursue grant and loan opportunities to help fund the estimated $528 million project.

The water-recycling project is intended to diversify East County’s drinking water supply and reduce the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Padre Dam offers tours of the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. To schedule a tour or for more information on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, visit www.EastCountyAWP.com.

READ MORE: East County Advanced Water Purification Project On Track for 2025

July is "Smart Irrigation Month," designed to call attention to efficient irrigation techniques to preserve the world's fresh water supply. Photo: Irrigation Association

Smart Irrigation Month Highlights Water-Efficient Technology

San Diego regional water agencies are sharing water-efficiency tips during “Smart Irrigation Month.”

July is traditionally the month of peak demand for outdoor water use and the reason it was chosen as Smart Irrigation Month when it started in 2005. The month celebrates the social, economic, and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation for landscapes, recreation and agriculture.

Smart Irrigation Month highlights irrigation technology innovations and encourages water-efficient irrigation techniques to preserve the world’s fresh water supply.

Member agency activities for Smart Irrigation Month 2019

The Otay Water District is participating in "Smart Irrigation Month" education via its social media channels and website. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District is among those participating in “Smart Irrigation Month” education via its social media channels and website. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District is helping its customers increase water-use efficiency during Smart Irrigation Month with a dedicated webpage of tips. Customers can apply for a free WaterSmart Checkup by calling 760-728-1332 or at watersmartcheckup.org

The Helix Water District also offers free home water use checkups to its customers by phone 619-667-6626 or email

And, the City of Oceanside Water Utilities Department is hosting a free Smart Irrigation Workshop at Mira Costa College on Saturday, July 13. The event has reached capacity, but customers can all 760-435-5816 to get on a waiting list and be notified about future events.

Nine Watering Tips For #SmartIrrigationMonth

Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes. Photo: Irrigation Association

Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes. Photo: Irrigation Association

July is an ideal month to perform a check on current irrigation systems and determine whether any practices can be improved to save water. The San Diego County Water Authority offers these nine Smart Irrigation Month tips:

  • Select sprinkler heads and nozzles that apply water uniformly to the target area.
  • Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes.
  • Upgrade to a smart controller. Weather and soil moisture-based controllers can automatically adjust your watering schedule based on the conditions at your location.
  • Use drip or low pressure, low volume irrigation which applies water directly to the base or roots of plants.
  • If water is applied too quickly, it can run off into the street or sidewalk. Smart irrigation regulates water pressure, ensuring water has a chance to soak into the ground.
  • Less is more when watering turf. Water long enough to soak down to the root zone, then don’t water again until the soil is completely dry. If the grass springs back when you step on it, it has enough water.
  • The greatest waste of water in landscape irrigation comes from watering too much, too fast. Instead of watering 20 consecutive minutes, run sprinklers in four five-minute sessions. This allows water to soak into the soil and minimizes runoff.
  • A rain shut-off device is an inexpensive gadget to add to your sprinkler system.
  • Improve efficiency by watering at the coolest time of day. When it’s hot or windy, more than a third of the water can be lost to evaporation.

Find more tips and information on Smart Irrigation Month at WaterSmartSD.org

 

Helix Pledges Additional $2.5 Million For Padre Dam Reclaimed Water Plan

The Helix Water District says it remains committed to the East County Advanced Water Purification Project, a multimillion-dollar, multi-agency recycled water project facilitated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District in Santee.

Helix Water District Honors Top Lake Jennings-Inspired Shutterbugs

The fourth time was the charm for Randy Siegel, a 71-year-old Santee resident whose color photograph of a sunrise over a Lakeside reservoir took top honors in the eighth annual Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest overseen by the Helix Water District. Siegel’s winning shot, “Sunrise Over Lake Jennings,” was judged best in the adult category by a panel of judges who volunteered their time to the district. The contest asked shutterbugs to take their best photograph at the Lakeside reservoir between March 1 and May 31 keying on this year’s theme “Life at the Lake.” Now in its eighth year, the contest drew 60 entries from throughout San Diego County – 51 from adults and nine from youths.

Lake Jennings Photo Contest, Youth Category, 1st Place: Ryan Cobain, "Rainbow"

Helix Water District Selects 2019 Lake Jennings Photo Contest Winners

Helix Water District recently selected the winners of its 2019 Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest. This year’s first place award in the adult category went to photographer Randy Siegel of Santee for his image titled “Sunrise Over Lake Jennings.”

Now in its eighth year, the contest drew 60 entries from throughout San Diego County. This year’s theme was “Life at the Lake,” and each of the entries highlighted the unique beauty of camping, fishing, hiking, spotting wildlife and enjoying the view at Lake Jennings.

Contestants were required to submit photos taken between March 1 and May 31, 2019, at the reservoir in Lakeside. The following photographers took top honors:

Helix Photo Contest, Adult Category 1st Place (Adult): Randy Siegel, "Sunrise Over Lake Jennings"

Lake Jennings Photo Contest, Adult Category First Place: Randy Siegel, “Sunrise Over Lake Jennings”

Adult Category:

1st Place – Randy Siegel, ‘Sunrise Over Lake Jennings’
2nd Place – Kurt Scherbaum, ‘Great Horned Owl’
3rd Place – Frances Schnall, ‘Patience’
Honorable Mention – Fred Kropveld, ‘Jennings Scenic 3’
Honorable Mention – Wes Van Fleet, ‘Awe and Creation’

Lake Jennings Photo Contest, Youth Category, 1st Place: Ryan Cobain, "Rainbow"

Lake Jennings Photo Contest, Youth Category, First Place: Ryan Cobain, “Rainbow”

Youth Category:
1st Place – Ryan Cobain, ‘Rainbow’
2nd Place – Cricht Ruediger, ‘Lake Jennings View Scape’
3rd Place – Aure Ruediger, ‘Lake Jennings Ducks and Anglers’
Honorable Mention – Luke Macy, ‘Silver Linings’
Honorable Mention – Jaden Cobain, ‘Rocks’

See all the winning photos in the gallery below.

The Helix Water District Board of Directors honored the winning photographers at an awards ceremony during its June 26 board meeting.

First place winner (Adult Category) Randy Siegel, receives congratulations from Dan McMillan, Helix Water District Board President. Photo: Helix Water District

First place winner (Adult Category) Randy Siegel, receives congratulations from Dan McMillan, Helix Water District Board President. Photo: Helix Water District

Lake Jennings is among the most scenic inland parks in San Diego County. Located in Lakeside, the recreation destination offers fishing, camping, hiking, and picnicking activities. The lake is a drinking water reservoir owned and operated by Helix Water District. The scenic views of the lake and the wooded surroundings put visitors in the middle of the wilderness, right outside of town.

The entire lake is open to the general public for fishing three days a week on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

The 97-space Lake Jennings Campground is open year-round for campers. The campground, located on the north side of Lake Jennings, has spaces for RVs, trailers, campers and tents. There is a day use fee for sight-seeing, hiking or picnicking per person.

Visit the Lake Jennings website for more information and to make reservations.

A colorful landscape full of native blooms is the 2019 Helix Water District Landscape Contest winner. Photo: Helix Water District Helix 2019 Landscape Contest

California Native Garden Wins Helix’s 2019 Landscape Contest

Matt and Lauren Kirkpatrick of La Mesa are this year’s winner of the Helix Water District’s ‘WaterSmart Landscape Contest,’ an annual competition recognizing outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

Compared to the previous landscaping with thirsty turf, the new landscaping uses much less water. Photo: Helix Water District

Compared to the previous landscaping with thirsty turf, the new landscaping uses much less water. Photo: Helix Water District

Compared to the thirsty turf in the Kirkpatricks’ previous landscaping, the growing, colorful and entirely native new landscaping requires much less water and creates a place of inspiration and peace for these outdoor enthusiasts. Over the two-month billing period ending this April, the home used just 13 units of water, which is almost 40 percent less than the average water use of other Helix customers. One unit is 748 gallons.

The Kirkpatricks purchased the home in 2014 with a front yard full of grass that required frequent watering and mowing to maintain a modest appearance. In the end, the lawn’s appearance was lackluster, costly, and time consuming for the couple. Taking advantage of SoCal WaterSmart’s turf removal rebate program, the Kirkpatricks tossed their turf for a beautiful native landscape with less maintenance and less water consumption.

The couple chose a native plant pallet so they could enjoy the look, feel and smell of what they love – the California outdoors.

“California natives were an obvious choice,” said Matt Kirkpatrick. “They are a reflection of our love for the plants we know closely from our experiences outdoors. Native plants make us feel at home and give us an appreciation for the beauty of our state.”

Colorful new landscaping already in full spring bloom

Even though the new landscaping is only four months old, it is already in full bloom with California native plants. Photo: Helix Water District

Even though the new landscaping is only four months old, it is already in full bloom with California native plants. Photo: Helix Water District

Although only a few months old, the yard already displays a wonderful spring bloom with a wide variety of colors that native landscapes can offer. There are vibrant oranges from hundreds of California poppies, reds from sticky monkey flower, blues from ceanothus, purples from lupine, yellows from yarrow and plenty of green and golds from various shrubs and grasses. At the center of the landscape is a young but promising Engelmann Oak, a signature Southern California tree among wild and urban landscapes.

Plants receive water from rainwater catchment and through an efficient irrigation system, which the couple installed. The landscape captures rainwater from the roof and diverts it into two separate swales designed to absorb the water and allow it time to soak into the soil. The two swales provide water for half of the yard and prevent rainwater from running off into the street. The remaining plants receive water through high-efficiency spray nozzles that were retrofitted onto the existing irrigation system and use less water than the previous sprinklers. The Kirkpatricks only run the system once per month during the warm season.

Native gardens are just one of many different designs of landscapes available to homeowners looking to redesign their thirsty and traditional landscapes. In addition to requiring minimal irrigation beyond rainfall, native gardens are colorful, low maintenance and provide a natural habitat for local wildlife.

Free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes provide blueprint for success

The Kirkpatricks took advantage of the Water Authority's WaterSmart Landscaping classes. Photo: Helix Water District Helix 2019 Landscape Contest

The Kirkpatricks took advantage of the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscaping classes. Photo: Helix Water District

Like the 2018 Helix landscape contest winners, the Kirkpatricks took advantage of the San Diego County Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program four course series to educate themselves about their options. They then chose a landscaping contractor familiar with native plants which thrive in a residential landscape to bring their plan to life.

The Kirkpatricks will receive their prizes including gift cards totaling $250 and an award certificate at the Helix Water District’s June board of directors meeting The family will also receive a ‘WaterSmart Contest Winner’ sign to display in the yard.

The annual landscape contest runs from January through April each year. Visit the Helix Water District’s website, Facebook page or Twitter for more information.

Helix Water District treats and delivers water to over 276,000 people in La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove and parts of Spring Valley, Lakeside and unincorporated San Diego County.

Alexander Schultz, Otay Water District geographic information systems technician, operates a drone in front of a district water storage tank. Photo: Otay Water District

Drones Offer Water Agencies Cost, Safety Benefits

Water agencies across San Diego County are saving time and money while improving employee safety with drones.

Industry analysts say drone use by water agencies worldwide is growing. The Helix Water District, Otay Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority have embraced the technology, using drones to inspect and monitor facilities, and to map and survey inaccessible areas.

Helix used a drone in February to check rooftop air vents on a water storage tank in El Cajon, rather than send employees high in the sky to do it. The agency determined it was too risky for employees – even with safety equipment – and too costly to have staff inspect the vents outside the 120-foot-high Fletcher Hills Combined Tank.

“We continually look for ways to utilize technologies where appropriate to minimize facility down time and to keep staff safe,” said Carlos Lugo, general manager at Helix. “Drone technology is proving to be a useful and cost-efficient way to survey and keep the district’s facilities properly maintained.”

Drones provide a safe and cost-effective alternative for inspecting the condition of storage tank vents without placing employees at risk or taking the storage tank offline. Photo: Helix Water District

Drones provide a safe and cost-effective alternative for inspecting the condition of storage tank vents without placing employees at risk or taking the storage tank offline. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix uses drones to inspect interior roof supports of its water storage tanks. The supports are especially vulnerable to corrosion because they are constantly exposed to humidity and heat.

Drone image of a roof bracket inspection. Photo: Helix Water District

Drone image of a roof bracket inspection. Photo: Helix Water District

Inspecting the storage tank roof supports requires moving 30-foot-high scaffolding from one support to the next, a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. To cut down that time, Helix used a drone to get high-resolution images of the supports. The drone images showed which ones needed repair without moving the scaffolding to each support.

A drone helps reduce the need to move scaffolding to each bracket during inspections. Photo: Helix Water District

A drone helps reduce the need to move scaffolding to each bracket during inspections. Photo: Helix Water District

“Using drones for this type of inspection work is a simple, elegant and safe solution,” said Jim Tomasulo, Helix’s director of engineering. “We anticipate using drones for this and other purposes.”

Drone inspections of reservoirs, treatment plant

The Otay Water District also is finding drones useful to save money and improve employee safety.

After a two-year study and evaluation period, the district is now using two camera-equipped drones to assist with preliminary inspections of its water facilities in eastern and southern San Diego County, including 40 potable water reservoirs, four recycled water reservoirs, 20 pump stations and a recycled water treatment plant.

Drones Reduce Risk

Countywide, the Water Authority uses drones to monitor rights of way and to survey inaccessible landscapes.

When a drone was used to get images and video of steep terrain on the Second Aqueduct west of Interstate 15 and south of the San Luis Rey River, the images were 10 times higher resolution than stock aerial images. Using the drone also kept staff from being exposed to potentially dangerous conditions.

The Water Authority is also exploring using drones for future surveys and potentially at water transportation, treatment, and storage facilities, where cutting-edge technology is used to save ratepayers money.

Drones are helping the Water Authority monitor rights of way, particularly in areas of rugged terrain.

But the potential of drone use is not limited to visual photography of elevated water tanks and surveying remote areas.  Water quality monitoring is another potential application.

Water agencies can use drones with infrared cameras “to monitor water areas remotely at higher spatial resolution than ever before, at low cost and at any time,” Michal Mazur, with Drone Powered Solutions, told Waterworld.com in a recent article about the advances in drone use.

Helix Water District Logo Square

Helix Water District High School Photo Contest Winners Highlight Water in Everyday Life

La Mesa, Calif.—Local high school students were honored for their winning photos at an awards ceremony during Helix Water District’s special board meeting on March 20, 2019. Seventy-four students from four schools entered the annual high school photo contest, highlighting the importance and beauty of water in everyday life.

Helix Water District Logo Square

Helix Water District Approves $8 Million Pay-Down of Pension Liabilities

The Helix Water District Board of Directors approved on February 13, 2019 a one-time, $5 million payment in 2019 and an additional $3 million in payments over the next four years to reduce the district’s unfunded employee pension liabilities.

Helix Water District Logo Square

Helix Water District Launches 2019 Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest

La Mesa, Calif.—Helix Water District has launched its eighth annual Lake Jennings Spring Photo Contest to share the beauty of its reservoir with the local community. The contest is open to photos taken at Lake Jennings between March 1 and May 31, 2019.