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

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA today released a draft plan to advance water reuse nationally at the WateReuse Association Symposium in San Diego.

The National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies 46 proposed actions organized around 10 strategic objectives, including leadership and collaboration, to support the implementation of water reuse.

“Forty states anticipate experiencing fresh water shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade,” said David Ross, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”

The draft plan incorporates federal, state, tribal and local water perspectives and highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have worked for decades to increase the region’s water supply reliability through supply diversification, and the Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to submit comments to the EPA before the draft was released.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up more than one-quarter of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

National Water Reuse Action Plan a ‘game changer’

The draft plan will be open for public comment for 90 days following its publication to the Federal Register. During that period, EPA will solicit feedback about how to prioritize and implement the proposed actions.

EPA’s goal is to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse to bolster the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources, according to the agency.

“The National Water Reuse Action Plan will be a game changer,” said Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association. “Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply – essential for livable communities, healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life.”

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA released a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan on September 10, 2019 in San Diego. Graphic: EPA

San Diego County agencies developing water reuse and recycling

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San DiegoPadre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

Padre Dam’s demonstration project is evaluating the feasibility of the East County Advanced Water Purification Program. Since March 2015, the pilot program has produced approximately 100,000 gallons of purified water each day. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan, released in July 2019. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The EPA Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan cites examples from California water agencies. Graphic: EPA

The Fall 2015 Citizens Water Academy tours the Olivenhain Reservoir. Photo: Water Authority Citizens Water Academy Applications

Citizens Water Academy ‘Inspiration’ for Water Agency Board Members

The Citizens Water Academy helps educate civic leaders, and many graduates have gone on to become water agency board members in San Diego County.

The application and nomination period remains open for the Fall 2019 class of the San Diego County Water Authority’s pioneering Citizens Water Academy.

The closing date is September 18. More than 700 people have completed the award-winning program since 2014.

The Citizens Water Academy provides an opportunity for emerging civic leaders to learn about visionary local efforts to ensure a safe and reliable water supply for the San Diego region. Participants get an in-depth look at how the Water Authority helps the region’s economy and quality of life through strategic planning, innovative programs, and cost-effective investments.

The first two sessions are at the Helix Water District’s operations headquarters in El Cajon on October 11 and 16, and the third session is in Escondido at the Water Authority’s Escondido operations center on October 25.

Citizens Water Academy ‘a catalyst’ for Gracyk

Mark Gracyk (center) participates in a role playing exercise during the Winter 2016 Citizens Water Academy. Photo: Water Authority Water Academy Applications

Mark Gracyk (center) participates in a role playing exercise during the Winter 2016 Citizens Water Academy. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Helix Water District board member Mark Gracyk attended the Citizens Water Academy in Winter 2016.

“As an average citizen, most people don’t know much about what’s involved about getting their water,” said Gracyk. “I didn’t have a macro view of the whole system. I really looked forward to the classes and I learned so much. It’s kind of jam packed, it’s like a cram course. But you really learn a lot in those short three or four days.”

Gracyk says the Citizens Water Academy was “a catalyst” inspiring him to run for the Helix board in 2016.

“I took what I learned and it helped in my campaign, and to be an more effective elected official,” said Gracyk.

Local leaders become better informed

Citizens Water Academy participants tour the Claude "Bud" Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad. Photo: Water Authority

Citizens Water Academy participants tour the Padre Dam Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project in Santee. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The program also helped José F. Cerda become better informed about the region’s water supply and infrastructure in 2015 prior to his successful 2016 campaign for the South Bay Irrigation District board.

“I had a childlike wonderment about what water is and where it comes from,” said Cerda. “It’s your civic duty to understand this big issue for California and create a sense of consciousness. People think you just open the tap.”

“I’m pretty comfortable now making decisions because of the background and the foundation of the Water Academy,” added Cerda.

Valley Center avocado grower Enrico Ferro, a Valley Center Municipal Water District board member, says his Citizens Water Academy experience in 2015 helped him look at water beyond the local perspective.

“Whenever I talk to anyone about water, I reference what I’ve learned,” said Ferro, recently named president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “We can’t do anything without water, it’s extremely important. Before I got involved with the Farm Bureau, I wasn’t paying attention to the impact of things on a regional and statewide level.”

“Lots of people from different walks of life of all ages, all professions, and every type of person attends. You get their perspective on things and how [water] affects them,” added Ferro.

Citizens Water Academy grads forge new relationships

Enrico Ferro (far right) participates in an icebreaker exercise at the Summer 2016 Citizens Water Academy. Photo: Water Authority

Enrico Ferro (far right) participates in an icebreaker exercise at the Summer 2016 Citizens Water Academy. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Gracyk, Cerda, and Ferro all value the relationships they forged and the networking opportunities with other engaged people at the Citizens Water Academy.

“You’ll make new friends and colleagues you didn’t have before. It will pay you back twenty fold,” said Gracyk.

Competitive selection process for popular program

The selection process is competitive. The Water Authority typically receives many more applications than spots available.

To apply or to nominate someone for the academy, go to www.sdcwa.org/citizens-water-academy. People who are interested but cannot attend in October can submit an application and ask to be notified when additional sessions are announced.

Gracyk says he hopes to join the first session and welcome the new Citizens Water Academy Fall 2019 class to the Helix operations center.

“Three years ago, I was sitting in that audience,” said Gracyk. “Now, I’m here as an elected official and I’m much more knowledgeable than when I started. One thing I really learned is that access to fresh, clean, safe affordable water is essential to human dignity.”

Two Southern California Water Districts Send Personnel to Aid Paradise Irrigation District

The Camp Fire in the community of Paradise and other locations in Butte County cut a wide swatch of destruction in the rural community. It is regarded as the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. At least 85 perish in the fire storm and it destroyed 18,804 structures. It covered almost 240 sq. miles and total damages have been estimated at $16.5 billion.

(L to R) Helix WD employees John Wilson, Eric Hughes, Dan Baker and Bryan Watte, and Padre Dam MWD workers Jesse Knowles and Austin Darley. Photo: Helix Water District Paradise Irrigation District

San Diego Water Pros Aid Paradise Irrigation District Following Camp Fire

Six water professionals from the Helix Water District and Padre Dam Municipal Water District spent one week in August assisting the Paradise Irrigation District with disaster recovery in the wake of the devastating Camp Fire.

The Camp Fire burned through the town of Paradise, California in November 2018. CAL FIRE reported the fire burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures and resulted in 85 civilian fatalities and several firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, according to CAL FIRE.

Ten months later, Paradise remains hard at work on recovery efforts.

The fire caused significant damage to the Paradise Irrigation District’s infrastructure. As a result, more than 10,500 customers fell under a “Do Not Drink” advisory due to contamination from several harmful volatile organic compounds in distribution pipelines.

Austin Darley and Jesse Knowles hard at work in Paradise, California. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Austin Darley (kneeling) and Jesse Knowles hard at work in Paradise, California. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam employees Austin Darley and Jesse Knowles, and Helix employees John Wilson, Dan Baker, Eric Hughes and Bryan Watte, spent a week in Paradise working to help ensure water system safety. While most customers have water service restored, the water quality is being carefully monitored.

“The majority of the work we did revolved around keeping customers in water during a three-day testing period, and reestablishing water service through a plastic jumper after samples had been drawn,” said Darley.

State emergency assistance system activated to provide mutual aid

Helix and Padre Dam are among 14 member agencies and the Water Authority participating in the California Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network, or CalWARN, to support and promote statewide emergency preparedness, disaster response, and mutual assistance processes for public and private water and wastewater utilities.

Damage remaining from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Damage remaining from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

“This program is like an insurance policy that can provide assistance when an emergency becomes larger than our internal resources can deal with,” said Melissa McChesney, Padre Dam Communications Manager. “The situation Paradise Irrigation District finds themselves in is a good example of this. We also have agreements with neighboring water agencies in which we call upon each other for equipment or staffing when needed.”

The agencies identified staff with the skills and experience to help the Paradise Irrigation District. All agreed to volunteer for the mutual aid mission. Padre Dam employees Jesse Knowles and Austin Darley were selected to help.

“Jesse and I feel very blessed to work for an organization that is passionate about helping those in need,” said Darley. “It was an important reminder that recovery efforts continue long after the disaster leaves the news. Paradise is still in need of our thoughts, prayers, and help.”

Recovery effort not over for Paradise Irrigation District

Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Helix Water District crews at work in Paradise, California. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Helix Water District crews at work in Paradise, California. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

“There’s a lot of work up here but the town is healing,” wrote Helix employee Dan Baker while working in Paradise. “I think I speak for all four of us when I say I’m proud to be a part of this.”

Water service for burned lots will be replaced as recovery progresses and new homes are built.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to assist our fellow Californians with this recovery effort,” added Darley. “Although we exist 600 miles apart we all have the same goal, to deliver safe and reliable drinking water to our residents and communities.”

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

California Moves To Boost Recycled Water

A new plan recommends four strategies to advance water reuse in California over the next three decades – an important part of both the state and regional water resilience portfolio.

The California WateReuse Action Plan includes a comprehensive set of proposed actions that will more than double the use of water recycling in California and help prepare the state for the impacts of climate change, according to WateReuse California, which released the plan in July.

But getting to that goal will require several steps, including: Completing research to advance water recycling and potable reuse; developing and streamlining recycled water regulations and permitting; increasing grant and loan opportunities to expand recycled water infrastructure; and, implementing integrated regional planning.

The U.S. EPA is developing a similar plan to advance water reuse nationwide.

California WateReuse Action Plan

The California WateReuse Action Plan recommends strategies for increasing water recycling statewide. Graphic: WateReuse California

San Diego water agencies collaborate on plan

Recycled water is expected to be the next major source of local water supply for the San Diego region – and the region has a long history of working together toward that goal.

The San Diego County Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to provide feedback on the plan’s development.

“We appreciate how this new plan aims to increase water supply diversification, including recycled water,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist with the Water Authority, and a contributor to the final action plan.

“Within the next 15 years, potable reuse and recycled water is projected to make up more than a quarter of San Diego County’s supply, but reaching our potential will depend in part on statewide implementation of the plan’s key findings,” Dobalian said.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up 26% of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Water Resilience Portfolio

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San Diego, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

National water reuse action plan

At the national level, EPA is also developing a Water Reuse Action Plan, or WRAP, to advance water reuse. The Water Authority met with its member agencies and submitted comments to the U.S. EPA for the WRAP.

A draft WRAP is expected to be released by the federal agency at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-11 in San Diego.

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

WateReuse California Symposium Sept. 8-10 in San Diego

The U.S. EPA plans to release a draft Water Reuse Action Plan to advance water reuse, at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-10 in San Diego.

Leaky indoor faucet - Shutterstock

Helix Water District, Sweetwater Authority Offer Smart Leak Detector Rebates

The Helix Water District has rolled out a new smart leak detector rebate program. Helix and Sweetwater Authority customers can get a rebate of up to $100 when they purchase a smart leak detector.

The detectors sync to smartphones, allowing customers to monitor water use 24/7 via smartphone and the devices notify customers of leaks and water consumption amounts.

Smart Leak Detectors

There are two types of smart leak detectors: plumbed devices and external devices, according to Helix.

  • Plumbed Devices
    Plumbed devices are plumbed into your existing water lines. Most of these devices can automatically shut the water off at their point of installation, or allow you to shut your water off remotely, in case of a leak. Since these devices tap into your existing plumbing system, a licensed plumber and permit may be required for installation. Plumbed devices are typically more expensive than external devices.
  • External Devices
    External devices attach to the outside of your water meter, typically with some type of strap, making them simple to install. Since external devices are not directly attached to your plumbing system, they do not have the ability to automatically shut off your water, or allow you to shut off your water remotely, if a leak occurs. External devices are typically less expensive than plumbed devices.

Measure All of Your Water Use

To monitor indoor and outdoor water use, install the leak detector before the point where your irrigation line branches off. This way, the device can alert you of faulty irrigation programming, broken sprinklers or outdoor leaks. This is important, because outdoor use is about half of a typical home’s total water use.

To monitor indoor water use only, install a smart leak detector on your water service line after the point where your main irrigation line branches off.

Install Smart Water Leak Detector

How to install smart water leak detectors to monitor water use or leaks. Graphic: Helix Water District/Sweetwater Authority

Rebates are first come, first served

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.