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Community Outreach Makes Challenging Infrastructure Update a ‘Walk in the Park’

In its efforts to maintain its critical infrastructure, the Vallecitos Water District undertook a challenging update to a wastewater system pipeline constrained by its precarious location.

IRWM-SanDiego Wild Animal Park-Water Conservation

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.

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.”

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

North County Agencies Secure $2.8 Million for Recycled Water Projects

Encinitas, Calif. — The California Department of Water Resources approved a grant package that will provide $2.8 million in state grant funding to three North County water and wastewater agencies to expand and upgrade recycled water infrastructure.

Construction near San Marcos homes required creative thinking and community cooperation from the Vallecitos Water District to successfully complete the project. infrastructure

Community Outreach Makes Challenging Infrastructure Update a ‘Walk in the Park’

In its efforts to maintain its critical infrastructure, the Vallecitos Water District undertook a challenging update to a wastewater system pipeline constrained by its precarious location.

The existing eight-inch gravity sewer pipeline conveys wastewater from the intersection of Rock Springs Road and Bennett Avenue west through a greenbelt area to an existing 12-inch pipeline in Rock Springs Road at Lancer Park Avenue. To expand capacity for current and future growth, it was replaced with a new 15-inch PVC pipe west of Matthew Lane and a 12-inch PVC pipe north and east of Matthew Lane.

See video following the progress of this vital infrastructure project

 

Complications due to environmental and neighborhood protection

The location of the affected manhole put equipment and crews close to a SDG&E gas line inside a greenbelt park area. Photo: Vallecitos WD infrastructure

The location of the affected manhole put equipment and crews close to a SDG&E gas line inside a greenbelt park area. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The District always prefers to perform work in a street or public right-of-way. Neither were possible for this project due to its greenbelt and park location within feet of residential homes.

“We took every environmental precaution prior to construction,” said Lito Santos, Vallecitos Water District Project Engineer. “We performed a nesting survey, a raptor survey, and we also worked to tunnel under the bridge,” within the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clear Water Rule.”

San Marcos Woods Homeowners Association board member Ross Fisher acted as a liaison between homeowners and the HOA with the District. Fisher expressed concern about access to the work area by the District’s large combination truck. The original proposal to create a concrete strip to drive over wasn’t feasible.

Due to its incredible strength, the grass-crete and existing lawns can handle the weight of a large service vehicle driving on it without significant damage. Photo: Vallecitos WD

Due to its incredible strength, the grass-crete and existing lawns can handle the weight of a large service vehicle driving on it without significant damage. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Working together with Vallecitos Water District engineers, the group chose an alternative material called “grass-crete.” Grass-crete is a green porous paving solution that comes in easy-to-install rolls. It’s flexible, lightweight, durable and provides design versatility to the project. Due to its incredible strength, the grass-crete and existing lawns can handle the weight of a large service vehicle driving on it without significant damage.

Proximity to additional threats

Manholes were waterproofed, coated, and sealed as an additional precaution and to extend their longevity.

Manholes were waterproofed, coated, and sealed as an additional precaution and to extend their longevity. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District engineers also worked with San Diego Gas & Electric to perform its work with enough safety clearance from a 16-inch transmission main artery gas line pressurized at 800 pounds per square inch. The District secured permission to dig within two to three feet from the line instead of the standard five feet.

The work area is also prone to flooding after large rain events, raising the water levels in the nearby creek high enough to infiltrate and inflow into the manholes. The District moved the manholes clear of the creek embankment, and lifted the manholes two feet above ground and clear of the flood plain to prevent runoff intrusion. Manholes were waterproofed, coated, and sealed as an additional precaution and to extend their longevity.

Homeowners praise Vallecitos cooperation with community

 The District moved the manholes clear of the creek embankment, and lifted the manholes two feet above ground and clear of the flood plain to prevent runoff intrusion.

The District moved the manholes clear of the creek embankment, and lifted the manholes two feet above ground and clear of the flood plain to prevent runoff intrusion. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“Overall Vallecitos left the greenbelt area as good or better when they started,” said Fisher of the HOA. “On a scale of one to ten, I have to give them a 9.5 or a ten. Working with the inspectors and Lito Santos the engineer, everything we asked for was done in a timely manner.”

“The project was a huge success,” said Santos. “Working with the Vallecitos Engineering Team, the Inspection Team and Mr. Fischer, it was not just a Vallecitos highlight but a career highlight.”

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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.

Over 700 Cash-Strapped Cities Halt Plans to Repair Roads, Water Systems or Make Other Key Investments

More than 700 U.S. cities have halted plans to improve roadways, buy new equipment and complete a wide array of upgrades to water systems and other critical infrastructure, as government officials slash spending to shore up the massive holes in their budgets created by the coronavirus.

Opinion: A Social Justice Perspective of the Delta Tunnel Project

As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, known as the Delta Conveyance Project.

More than 27 million Californians rely on imported drinking water conveyed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This imported water also serves millions of acres of local agricultural lands and vital wildlife refuges.

San Francisco Awarded $513M for Wastewater Upgrades

EPA announced the second WIFIA Loan supporting San Francisco’s Southeast Treatment Plant, which treats 80 percent of the city’s wastewater.

Vallecitos Water District Crews Rehab Manhole, Protecting Environment

Vallecitos Water District crews sprang into action to repair and rehabilitate a manhole in danger of failing, successfully preventing a spill, which could have resulted in significant environmental damage.

Located just off Palomar Airport Road in a shared 30-foot easement with the Buena Sanitation District in Carlsbad, the manhole is part of a 30-inch outfall providing a main sewage drain for the City of San Marcos. The line feeds directly into the Encinas Wastewater Treatment plant a half-mile from the project site.

This temporary bridge allowed Vallecitos Water District crews to repair a manhole without affected sensitive habitat. Photo: Vallecitos Water District rehab manhole

Vallecitos Water District Crews Rehab Manhole, Protecting Environment  

Vallecitos Water District crews sprang into action to repair and rehabilitate a manhole in danger of failing, successfully preventing a spill, which could have resulted in significant environmental damage.

Located just off Palomar Airport Road in a shared 30-foot easement with the Buena Sanitation District in Carlsbad, the manhole is part of a 30-inch outfall providing a main sewage drain for the City of San Marcos. The line feeds directly into the Encina Wastewater Treatment plant a half-mile from the project site.

Originally constructed in the 1980s, turbulence generated by a hard right-turn along the sewer easement creates hydrogen sulfide gases. These gases corrode concrete and weakened the manhole over the years. Flooding also occurs in the area and allows rainfall to infiltrate the manhole.

Preventing harm to sensitive habitat areas

Vallecitos Water District staff became concerned the structure could fail. The result would be a major sewage spill affecting the nearby Encinas Creek Habitat Conservation Area, ultimately spilling into the Pacific Ocean a mile downstream. The Habitat Conservation Area is owned by the Center for Natural Lands Management, which supports its management through an endowment.

The Encinas Creek HCA is also part of the City of Carlsbad’s habitat management preserve. It includes riparian habitat and is known to be home to state and federally protected species. The Center for Natural Lands Management works to protect the property from trespassing, nonnative invasive plant and animal species, and other issues.

The District determined emergency repairs were required. Although the Vallecitos Water District has proper easement rights to access, operate, and maintain the pipeline, the agency must avoid any impact to the existing habitat while repairing the manhole. This required some creativity by the work crews.

Creative thinking provides access for repairs

A look at the newly repaired manhole. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

A look at the newly repaired manhole. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The District kept all construction activities within its existing easement to avoid any impacts to existing riparian vegetation. Crews constructed a temporary bridge over an existing stream obstructing access to the manhole. The bridge installation was designed to be temporary, and not affect the existing stream with footings or other supports. Constructing the bridge for access turned out to be the most complex part of the repair project.

District crews working with a contractor team took advantage of the lower sewage flow during the early morning hours, starting work at 3 a.m. to get as low into the waterline as possible. Repairs like this take advantage of the low flows to keep critically important sewer systems in operation.

Instead of replacing the manhole, the District used a polymer concrete replacement product to build a new manhole within the old manhole. As a result, no excavation was needed. Unlike regular concrete, the new material is corrosion-proof and should provide District customers in San Marcos with many years of reliable service while protecting the environment.