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San Diego County Students Discover Practical Water Solutions

On April 28, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors showcased this year’s group of award winners from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. The Water Authority has judged water-related projects in the fair for several decades as part of an effort to support STEM education in the region and inspire young people to pursue careers in the water industry.

Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

 

State Tells San Joaquin Valley Agencies That Groundwater Plans Are Flawed

California water officials have alerted local groundwater agencies in farming areas across the San Joaquin Valley that their plans for bringing aquifers into balance don’t adequately address how continuing declines in water levels could cause many more wells to run dry. The state Department of Water Resources notified agencies in six areas of the San Joaquin Valley this week that their groundwater sustainability plans are incomplete and have deficiencies that need to be corrected.

Atmospheric Rivers Are Stable For Now — But Change Is On The Way

Yale researchers are charting the course of mighty “rivers” in the sky that are holding steady in the face of climate change — for now.

In future decades, however, climate-induced changes to these atmospheric rivers could drastically increase extreme precipitation events in some parts of the world, they report in a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Atmospheric rivers — long, winding filaments of intense water vapor — account for as much as 90% of the moisture sent toward the North and South poles.

Oceanside Introduces 360 Tour of Water Recycling Project

Oceanside released an immersive 360-degree video and tour of the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility, and new home of Pure Water Oceanside which is set to go online in 2022.

The video was released as part of “Water Awareness Month” and is a step-by-step tour of the water purification process, with a unique 360-view of the facility.

By turning your phone, you can see a view of the plant from all directions while hearing a narration of the process.

Students-Student displays science and engineering fair project

San Diego County Students Innovate to Solve Water Challenges

In March, Water Authority staff judged water-related projects by students at the 67th annual Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. Judging the fair is a longstanding tradition at the Water Authority and a component of the education outreach program. For decades, the Water Authority has recognized the top water-related projects with a scholarship and award. This year’s fair was conducted in a virtual format, but more than 280 students still brought their best projects to the table.

Each student who was interviewed by Water Authority staff demonstrated a strong knowledge of the scientific process, as well as an awareness of big picture issues that are important in the water industry and beyond. Five winners were selected, and each will receive a gift card and plaque. Water Authority staff also showcased a video of the five winners and their outstanding projects at the April San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors meeting.

Students present top water-related projects

Forward-thinking students solve global and everyday water issues

In the senior division, first place winner Bella Rose Schremmer designed a piston-buoy rack and pinion wave energy converter device. The 10th grader from University City High School said she was inspired by the kinetic energy formed by ocean waves, and she wanted to create a project that could capture that energy as a renewable energy source to replace the burning of fossil fuels. Bella Rose attributed part of her success in this project to her father, who supported her by procuring materials and providing encouragement, and to her teacher and mentor, Mrs. Bosch, who guided her through the process.

In second place, Suvali Sengupta created a biodegradable microporous polymer that was designed to help soil water retention in an agricultural setting. The 11th grader from Westview High School shared that her inspiration came from her Indian heritage and the drought conditions that India’s farmers struggle with each year.

Saltwater desalination, water purification, water conservation

In the junior division, Kristine Talaga from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School won first place with her project on saltwater desalination. The 7th grader designed a project to test the effects of different colored backgrounds – black, white or foil – on containers containing salt water and how quickly heat could desalinate the water in each container.

Samantha Rivera, an 8th grader from Chula Vista Middle School, claimed second place with her project about which methods of water purification removed the most dissolved solids.

In third place, 8th grader Sonria Rheiglene Simanski, also representing Chula Vista Middle School, tracked how much water is wasted when waiting for the shower to warm up, determining the best times of day to shower for optimal water-use efficiency.

Opinion: Innovation Needed to Solve State’s Water Challenges

Earlier this month, camera crews once again gathered in the Sierra Nevada to watch a man plunge a pole through the snow. The pole was removed and, following a tense few moments, Californians learned we experienced another dry winter, and we are plunging further into drought. These snowpack surveys are quaint rituals, but they’re also a jarring reminder of how little technological innovation has occurred in California’s water sector.  The case for action is clear.

Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Innovative Technology at Mahr Reservoir

The Vallecitos Water District received two awards for its innovative use of technology to reduce algae blooms at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir in San Marcos. The district received the “Excellence in Action” award from the national WateReuse Association, and the “Innovation and Resiliency” award from the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, or CASA.

Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility employee Ivan Murguia monitors water quality. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Innovative Technology at Mahr Reservoir

The Vallecitos Water District received two awards for its innovative use of technology to reduce algae blooms at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir in San Marcos.

The district received the “Excellence in Action” award from the national WateReuse Association, and the “Innovation and Resiliency” award from the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, or CASA.

The WateReuse Association is the nation’s only trade association solely dedicated to advancing laws, policy, funding, and public acceptance of recycled water. CASA provides leadership, advocacy, and information to its members, legislators, and the public. CASA also promotes partnerships on clean water and beneficial reuse issues that protect public health and the environment.

Known for its sustainable practices in water and wastewater treatment processes without compromising water quality, Vallecitos Water District employs a new ultrasound technology to improve water quality at the Mahr Reservoir and reduce the need for chemical treatment.

“These awards are proof of the Vallecitos Water District’s commitment to innovation,” said Vallecitos Board President Mike Sannella. “District staff are to be commended for their efforts to use innovative technology to improve and enhance our operations.”

See video recognizing contribution of Vallecitos employees to award-winning projects

Algal blooms treated with sonic technology

Originally called La Costa Storage No. 1 Dam and Reservoir when completed in 1981, Mahr Reservoir was renamed after original founder and 35-year board member Stanley A. Mahr. It stores up to 54-million gallons of reclaimed water for irrigation use. Vallecitos Water District has contracts with the City of Carlsbad and Olivenhain Municipal Water District to provide as much as five million gallons of recycled water daily as needed.

The Mahr Reservoir stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Innovative Technology

The Mahr Reservoir stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Because the reservoir’s location receives intense sunlight with little rain, algal blooms can occur in the nutrient-rich recycled water. Algal blooms are commonly treated with costly chemicals that are labor-intensive to apply. Vallecitos Water District uses technology developed by LG Sonic of the Netherlands. It provides a complete overview of reservoir water quality, allowing swift identification and treatment of algal blooms.

Every ten minutes, an MPC Buoy in the Mahr Reservoir measures and monitors green and blue-green algae population, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and water temperature. The data is collected in real time and uploaded online software, which uses the data to predict algal blooms three to ten days in advance.

Sound barrier limits algae

The LG Sonic buoy can create a sound barrier in the top water layer. It affects the algae buoyancy, preventing it from rising where it can absorb sunlight to grow. Starved of sunlight and nutrients, algae cells sink to deeper water where they degrade due to natural bacteria and do not release toxins into the water.

With overall algae levels reduced through sonic technology, the need for chemical treatment is also reduced. LG Sonic’s specific low-power ultrasonic transmitters emit signals which are not harmful to people, fish, plants, or other wildlife.