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Big Event Marks FPUD Turning 100 Years Old

Fallbrook, Calif. – Fallbrook Public Utility District has been providing water and sewer service in Fallbrook for nearly 100 years. Now thanks to a unanimous vote by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, the process is moving forward for the district to be able to provide additional community services under the umbrella of parks and recreation services, streets, and street lighting.

The Fallbrook Public Utility District turns 100 years old on June 5.

The district is celebrating its anniversary with a huge, open-to-the-public event June 4, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., to mark a century of supplying water to more than 35,000 residents in Fallbrook.

State Legislature-Otay Water District-65th anniversary-Otay Building

Otay Water District Celebrates 65 Years of Service to Southeast Communities

Sixty-five years ago in 1955, six South Bay community leaders met at Christie’s Restaurant in Chula Vista to discuss ways to import water into the southern part of San Diego County. The shared vision of a plumber, civil engineer, an attorney, a newspaper publisher, and two regional landowners created the framework and found seed funding for what became the Otay Water District.

Landowners Ralph W. Chapman and Fred J. Hansen led efforts along with Ray Coyle, vice chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority and publisher of the Chula Vista Star News, in search of a solution for the South Bay’s declining quality and quantity of well water. Photo: Otay Water District 65 years of service

Spring Valley landowners Ralph W. Chapman and Fred J. Hansen led efforts along with Ray Coyle, vice chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority and publisher of the Chula Vista Star-News, in search of a solution for the South Bay’s declining quality and quantity of well water. Photo: Otay Water District

The district was formally established in 1956. The population served at the time was less than 1,200 people. Today, the Otay Water District provides safe, reliable water and wastewater services to more than 226,000 customers within approximately 125 square miles of southeastern San Diego County, including the communities of eastern Chula Vista, Bonita, Jamul, Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego, unincorporated areas of El Cajon and La Mesa, and east Otay Mesa along the international border of Mexico.

Commitment to service

“Serving customers for 65 years is something we take seriously. We take pride in our commitment to our customers,” said Otay Water District Board President Tim Smith. “We also value our employees because without them we couldn’t provide the high-quality customer service that we do. Through excellence, integrity, teamwork, and innovation, the District, its board, and staff work daily toward the same goal of ensuring a reliable water supply and sewer system and continuing to enhance our operational practices.”

The communities receive imported water supplied by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority, and the Helix Water District.

In 1995, both Boards of Directors voted unanimously to dissolve La Presa County Water District. Otay Municipal Water District took control of all La Presa’s assets and resources. Photo: Otay Water District

Key historic milestones

In 1969, the Helix Water District’s R.M. Levy Filtration Plant begins delivering filtered water to Otay customers.

In 1979, the Ralph W. Chapman Water Recycling Facility was completed. Recycled water from the plant irrigates a portion of eastern Chula Vista. Photo: Otay Water District

In 1979, the Ralph W. Chapman Water Recycling Facility was completed. Recycled water from the plant irrigates a portion of eastern Chula Vista. It can produce up to 1.1 million gallons of recycled water per day. In 2017, the District invested in upgrades to the plant’s major service pipeline including advanced technology and monitoring software to preserve the life of the existing facility. This proactive maintenance is estimated to save ratepayers $8 million in repairs.

The Otay Water District signed an agreement in 2003 to purchase recycled water from the City of San Diego’s South Bay Water Reclamation Plant in San Ysidro. Twelve years later, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant begins operations including delivery of drinking water to Otay’s service area.

The District began taking advantage of manufacturer warranties to upgrade more than 49,600 automated meter reading registers originally installed between 2004 and 2012, saving ratepayers approximately $3.3 million in meter replacement costs. Using AMR meters reduces staff time and costs, improves safety, and makes use of historical water-use data to identify unexplained usage through leak, tamper, and back-flow detection alarms.

Alexander Schultz, Otay Water District geographic information systems technician, operates a drone in front of a district water storage tank. Photo: Otay Water District 65 Years

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

In 2018, after a two-year study and evaluation period, Otay began using drones to assist with the preliminary inspection of water facilities, including 40 potable water reservoirs. Drone technology can provide time savings with initial inspections and allows for a safer examination process of the District’s assets.

Recruiting military veterans

Legislation co-sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019, making it easier for military veterans to launch careers in the water industry. AB 1588, initiated by Otay Water District General Manager and U.S. Navy veteran Jose Martinez, updates the current water and wastewater certification system by giving military veterans credit for their experience and education that is applicable to the water industry. Veterans can enter the water workforce at a higher pay grade than was previously possible.

AB 1588 - ACWA - WNN

State legislators, water industry leaders, veteran advocates and business and community organizations gathered at the Veterans Museum in San Diego Oct. 16, 2019 to celebrate Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 1588 by Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (San Diego) and Adam Gray (Merced), and co-authored by several state legislators, including Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (Oceanside). The San Diego County Water Authority and the Otay Water District co-sponsored the bill to increase the number of military veterans entering the civilian water and wastewater industry at a time when many Baby Boomers are retiring. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Today, the Otay Water District is focused on reducing water waste and overall water use. San Diego County has been better prepared for drought than other parts of California in part due to the Otay Water District’s investment in conservation, water recycling, seawater desalination, and transitional storage over the past two decades.

“I’m proud to be part of and serve an agency like the District because as an organization, we strive to provide excellent water and wastewater service to our community, while at the same time managing operational efficiencies to minimize rates to our customers,” said Otay Water District General Manager Jose Martinez. “Throughout 65 years, we are one of the few water districts that still has room to grow; we have continued to ensure a reliable water supply to our increasing population, and we will continue to do so.”

The District remains as dedicated to community service as when it was founded. Responsible resource planning, sound fiscal management, respect for the environment, and paying close attention to its customers’ needs will ensure its future reflects its history.

(Editor’s note: The Otay Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

The Miramar Reservoir dam under construction in 1960. The reservoir marks its 60th anniversary i 2020. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

Miramar Reservoir Marks 60 Years of Service

For 60 years, Miramar Reservoir has been an integral part of the City of San Diego’s drinking water system and offers San Diegans a popular recreational area. Now, the reservoir is being called into service to play a vital part in San Diego’s future Pure Water system to sustain a reliable water supply.

The City of San Diego is commemorating the 60th anniversary of Miramar Reservoir, its role in the region’s history, and the part the reservoir will play in the future.

“We celebrate not only Miramar Reservoir’s past, but the critical role it will play when the Pure Water system is completed,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “Miramar Reservoir will continue to be a key part of our water system for many years to come.”

Role in San Diego’s history

An aerial view of the Miramar Reservoir under construction in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

An aerial view of the Miramar Reservoir under construction in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek/City of San Diego

Miramar Reservoir marks 60

Miramar was the last of the City’s nine reservoirs to be developed. It was completed in 1960 as part of the second San Diego Aqueduct. The location previously had been the site of a small reservoir serving the vast ranch of newspaper publisher Edward W. Scripps.

Water flowing south to the reservoir originates from both the Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. The earthen embankment dam has a maximum height of 165 feet measured from the downstream toe, and has a base of 1,180 feet.

Dignitaries attend the Miramar Reservoir dedication ceremony in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

Dignitaries attend the Miramar Reservoir dedication ceremony in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek/City of San Diego

It was constructed by contractors Einer Brothers Inc. of Escondido and McCammon Construction, for $1.42 million. Land acquisition and engineering costs were approximately $730,000. Funds for the project came from an $11 million water bond approved by San Diego voters in June 1958.

When full, the reservoir covers 274 surface acres, reaches a maximum water depth of 114 feet, and has four miles of shoreline. Miramar Reservoir has a water storage capacity of 6,682 acre-feet.

Miramar Water Treatment Plant, which was completed in 1962 at a cost of $3.5 million, and expanded and upgraded in 2010, treats and filters drinking water distributed to customers in the northern part of San Diego.

Since the mid-1960s, the reservoir has been a popular recreational destination. An estimated 100,000 people visit Miramar each year to enjoy jogging, walking, biking, fishing, boating, picnicking, among other activities.

Miramar Reservoir to become part of Pure Water San Diego

Today in 2020, the Miramar Reservoir is poised to play a key role in the Pure Water San Diego project. Photo: City of San Diego

The Miramar Reservoir is poised to play a key role in the Pure Water San Diego project. Photo: City of San Diego

When the Pure Water system comes online, Miramar Reservoir will switch from holding imported water to holding purified water received through a pipeline from the planned North City Pure Water Facility. After water has been purified at the North City Pure Water Facility, it will then be transferred via pipeline to Miramar Reservoir. The Miramar Water Treatment Plant will clean the water again, and the water will be distributed to homes and businesses throughout northern San Diego.

Miramar Reservoir will continue use into the foreseeable future as it helps provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by the end of 2035.

Fallbrook Public Utility District changes the painted numbers on its Rattlesnake Tank to reflect the year incoming seniors at Fallbrook High School will graduate. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Fallbrook Rattlesnake Tank Artwork Honors High School Seniors

Each year, the Fallbrook Public Utility District’s water storage tank uphill from South Mission Road is painted with new numbers. There’s a story about local Fallbrook history behind the fresh design on the “Rattlesnake Tank.”

The Fallbrook Public Utility District changes the painted numbers on the tank to reflect the year incoming seniors at Fallbrook High School will graduate. Staff recently painted over the “20,” changing it to “21” to welcome the graduating class of 2021.

The reason for the annual external makeover dates back 35 years. Before painting the tank, Fallbrook High seniors took on a longstanding dare. They would climb up the hill in the middle of the night, scale the tank and then paint it themselves.

“Since it’s a long way down, our staff of more than 35 years ago became concerned for their safety,” said Fallbrook PUD’s Noelle Denke. “So we installed a fence around the tank.”

But it didn’t deter the energetic students. Instead, they began jumping the fence in the middle of the night. So the District struck a deal with the students. If they would stop risking their safety for the dare, the district would safely paint the tank every year to commemorate them.

“And we’ve been doing it ever since,” said Denke.

Safely saluting seniors with 25-foot high signage

Fallbrook Public Utility District utility workers Colter Shannon and Bryan Wagner do the honors changing the painted numbers on Rattlesnake Tank for the Class of 2021. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

Fallbrook Public Utility District utility workers Colter Shannon and Bryan Wagner do the honors of changing the painted numbers on Rattlesnake Tank for the Class of 2021. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

It takes District staff about eight hours to paint the 25-foot-tall numbers onto the 3.6 million-gallon tank. Since the tank shares the space with several cell towers, the Fallbrook Public Utility District makes arrangements with the owners to power down their towers. Then crews safely hoist themselves up to the tower and get to work painting.

Rattlesnake Tank was built in the early 1950s and is one of Fallbrook’s oldest and most visible water tanks.