Posts

Opinion: As Recycling Rate Drops, California Should Embrace Innovative Recycling Technologies

California’s recycling rate has fallen from a peak of 50% to 40%, well short of the 75%-by-2020 goal established by the Legislature, according to a recent report by CalRecycle, the state agency that manages recycling programs.

Carbon fiber - Pipeline Repair-WNN primary phto

Water Authority Begins Pipeline 5 Repairs in North San Diego County

Next week, San Diego County Water Authority staff and contractors will begin crucial repairs on Pipeline 5 in rural North County between Fallbrook and Escondido.

The work is part of the Water Authority’s proactive asset management program, which monitors and maintains the condition of regional water infrastructure that includes 310 miles of large-diameter pipelines. The Water Authority’s approach, coordinated closely with its member agencies, has served the region well by avoiding large-scale, unexpected water outages for more than a decade.

Asset management program responds quickly to pipeline needs

After a leak in nearby Pipeline 4 was discovered in Moosa Canyon last summer, Water Authority staff assessed the conditions of Pipelines 3 and 5, which run parallel to Pipeline 4 as part of the Second Aqueduct. The assessment showed that a section of Pipeline 5 in Moosa Canyon was also under significant stress.

“Due to the very high operating pressure and the major consequences of potential failure of Pipeline 5, our staff immediately began planning a shutdown and repairs to mitigate risks,” said Jim Fisher, director of operations and maintenance at the Water Authority. “Our asset management program is designed to identify potential problems and respond quickly.”

After a leak in nearby Pipeline 4 was discovered near Moosa Creek last summer, Water Authority staff assessed the conditions of Pipelines 3 and 5, which run parallel to Pipeline 4 as part of the Second Aqueduct. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

After a leak in nearby Pipeline 4 was discovered near Moosa Creek last summer, Water Authority staff assessed the conditions of Pipelines 3 and 5, which run parallel to Pipeline 4 as part of the Second Aqueduct. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Constructed in 1982, Pipeline 5 is a vital component of the Water Authority’s water system, delivering untreated supplies from Lake Skinner in southwest Riverside County to the Lower Otay Water Treatment Plant in southern San Diego County. The operating pressure exceeds 400 pounds per square inch in Moosa Canyon.

Carbon fiber technology extends pipeline life

Repairs will require that a section of Pipeline 5 in North County be shut down from March 30 until mid-May. Crews will start by installing bulkheads that isolate the Moosa Canyon section. Then, they will line the inside of the pipe with a carbon fiber liner, as was done to rehabilitate Pipeline 4. The carbon fiber liner will reinforce distressed areas and extend the life of the 96-inch, pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipeline.

The asset management program is a key element of the Water Authority’s commitment to providing a safe and reliable water supply to San Diego County. By making preventative repairs, the Water Authority ensures that water service will continue throughout the county.

Planning study seeks long-term solutions

Over the next 18 months, Water Authority staff will conduct a planning study to evaluate improvements required for all three pipelines in Moosa Canyon to ensure the long-term reliability of the Second Aqueduct. The results of the study will include recommendations about future projects as part of the Water Authority’s capital improvement program.

Water Authority Board Honors Retiring Otay Water District GM Mark Watton

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday honored Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton for 37 years of public service in the water industry.

The Board issued a proclamation congratulating Watton on “his long and distinguished service to San Diego County upon his upcoming retirement from the Otay Water District” and commended him “for a lifetime of service that has improved the quality of life in our region.”

After 15 years leading the water agency that serves Southeastern San Diego County, and nearly four decades representing the water interests of the county and state, Watton plans to retire in late March. He first served on the Water Authority’s Board of Directors in 1985 and was Board Chair from 1995 through 1996.

Generating Sodium Hypochlorite On-Site in South San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CA — Located in southern San Diego County, the Otay Water Treatment Plant, with a capacity of 34 million gallons per day provides drinking water to an estimated 100,000 customers. The plant is operated by the City of San Diego and located less than two miles from the United States – Mexico border, north of Tijuana. Despite being 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the arid region is considered part of the Colorado Desert and receives an average of only ten inches of rain each year.

Water Authority Board Honors Retiring Otay Water District GM Mark Watton

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday honored Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton for 37 years of public service in the water industry.

The Board issued a proclamation congratulating Watton on “his long and distinguished service to San Diego County upon his upcoming retirement from the Otay Water District” and commended him “for a lifetime of service that has improved the quality of life in our region.”

After 15 years leading the water agency that serves Southeastern San Diego County, and nearly four decades representing the water interests of the county and state, Watton plans to retire in late March. He first served on the Water Authority’s Board of Directors in 1985 and was Board Chair from 1995 through 1996.

“A wonderful career” — Mark Watton

Watton’s water industry career began in 1983, when he was elected to Otay’s Board of Directors. He served in that role for 18 years. Watton was then hired as Otay general manager in 2004.He currently manages the district’s $106 million annual operating budget and 138 employees.

“I’m completely satisfied. It’s been a wonderful career,” said soon-to-retire General Manager Mark Watton. “It’s so gratifying to retire in this industry, knowing there is a new generation coming in, like our new general manager, to continue doing a great job.”

Watton was referring to Otay’s Assistant Chief of Water Operations, Jose Martinez, a U.S. Navy veteran, who was recently hired to be Otay’s new general manager.

Watton also was instrumental in securing high-priority Colorado River water for San Diego County through the Quantification Settlement Agreement.

“Mark was a key player in diversifying the region’s water supply by securing highly reliable supplies from the Colorado River that will continue to benefit our region for decades,” said Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “If we had a hall of fame for water pioneers in the San Diego region, Mark Watton would definitely be a member.”

Innovative leadership

The Otay Water District provides water, recycled water, and sewer service to approximately 224,000 customers within roughly 125 square miles of southeastern San Diego County, including the communities of Chula Vista, Jamul, Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego, and unincorporated areas of El Cajon and La Mesa, as well as Otay Mesa along the international border with Mexico.

Under Watton’s leadership, Otay has enlisted the use of drones to modernize preliminary inspections of the district’s 40 potable water reservoirs, four recycled water reservoirs, 20 pump stations, and a recycled water treatment plant. Drone technology saves employee time, improves the safety of workers performing inspections, and ultimately delivers greater value to Otay’s customers.

Watton has also presided over Otay’s deployment of its state-of-the-art leak detection and repair program that has reduced water loss 43% over seven years. In 2018, a 3.3% reduction in water loss saved Otay customers $1.3 million, helping to keep rates low.

“Not only has Mark made a significant impact locally for Otay’s service area, but also regionally and statewide,” said Otay Board President Gary Croucher. “He is an influential thought leader in the water industry and his commitment to our region is unmatched.”

Prudent financial manager

Watton’s leadership has maintained Otay’s AA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s for more than a decade. While many public agencies struggle to keep up with their pension obligations, Watton’s prudent management of Otay’s finances made it possible to fully fund the District’s Other Post-Employment Benefit plan and substantially fund its pension plan in upcoming years.

An innovator throughout his career, he identified an opportunity for a binational solution to Otay’s continued need to diversify its water supplies. On May 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of State granted Otay a presidential permit to build a nearly four-mile potable water cross-border pipeline and associated facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border for the importation of desalinated seawater produced in Mexico. Although obtaining the presidential permit was a milestone accomplishment, Otay’s part of the project is no longer moving forward.

Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT Team Ready to Respond

To protect its employees, members of the public, and the environment from any accidental chemical releases or exposure, the Vallecitos Water District has established its own internal Hazardous Materials Response Team or HAZMAT team.

Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT Team members go through the decontamination process as part of a recent training drill. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT Team Ready to Respond

To protect its employees, members of the public, and the environment from any accidental chemical releases or exposure, the Vallecitos Water District has established its own internal Hazardous Materials Response Team or HAZMAT team. Maintaining its own internal team allows a 24-hour response capability.

Common hazardous chemicals play vital roles in the water and wastewater industry for disinfection and odor control. They are also used in fueling and maintaining agency vehicles, generators, pumps, and motors.

A HAZMAT team is an organized group of professionals who receive special training to handle hazardous materials or dangerous goods. A HAZMAT team responds to oil, chemical and other liquid spills, industrial and military explosions and accidents during transportation, and similar incidents.

Decontamination equipment is ready to treat HAZMAT team personnel following exposure to toxic chemicals. Photo: Vallecitos Water DIstrict

Decontamination equipment is ready to treat HAZMAT team personnel following exposure to toxic chemicals. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT team consists of 20 members from different departments. They complete U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training, which provides a set of guidelines regulating hazardous water waste operations and emergency services in the U.S.

When an emergency call requires HAZMAT team response, individual members move from their regular job assignments to the HAZMAT Response Trailer. The team then mobilizes to the site of the emergency.

HAZMAT team protects people and the environment

Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT team members conduct a debriefing after a training drill. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT team members conduct a debriefing after a training drill. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“It’s a great honor just knowing we’re here to protect people in the surrounding areas, to protect the environment, and to know we’re here to jump into action in case there’s an issue,” said Matthew Wiese, senior plant operator at the Meadowlark Treatment Facility. “We’ve trained and we’ve gone through scenarios. Being able to act with confidence, it’s a great thing to be a part of that team.”

Vallecitos Water District HAZMAT team members wear specialized personal protective equipment and clothing to make safe entries into potentially hazardous areas. If a leak or spill of chemicals occurs, the HAZMAT team uses specialized tools and equipment to identify, and stop the release and spread of any contamination as quickly as safely possible.

Team members conduct monthly drills on common scenarios.

“If there was a release of chlorine gas which we use to conduct our wastewater treatment activities, we have specialized equipment and materials to lock down those cylinders so we can stop the release,” said Trisha Woolslayer, risk management supervisor. “We practice on a regular basis so we react quickly if an accidental release were to occur.”

Watch video of a recent training exercise.

Following each exercise, all team members hold a debriefing to discuss their observations, and how procedures might be improved.

Woolslayer said swifter response times and cost savings offset the investment in training and equipment by the District.

“It allows us to respond quickly, to stop whatever spill it is and protect the environment,” she said. “There are also cost savings. We spend on training and equipment, but it is a small amount compared to having a response contractor on call.”

Vactor Truck-Leucadia Wastewater District-

Water Agencies Team Up to Reduce Potable Water Use

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District and Leucadia Wastewater District are reducing potable water use by switching to recycled water to flush sewer lines in their service areas.

With the recent installation of new equipment by both agencies, recycled water is now available to Leucadia for sewer line maintenance in the Village Park neighborhood in Encinitas and in the La Costa neighborhood in Carlsbad.

Regular flushing is important for gravity-fed sewer line maintenance. The process involves filling a specialized sewer cleaning vehicle, known as a vactor truck, with water and injecting the water into a sewer main. Flushing the pipes in proper working condition extends their lifetime by removing materials such as grease and roots, which can cause clogs and sewage overflows. Once flushed, a pipeline can be inspected and its condition assessed.

Recycled water, not potable water, now used to flush sewer lines

Prior to this project, Leucadia did not have access to recycled water in Olivenhain’s service area, instead filling vactor trucks with potable water. Leucadia identified the opportunity to reduce potable water use and save its ratepayers money, and approached Olivenhain about creating points at which the wastewater district could fill trucks with recycled water. Five locations throughout Encinitas and Carlsbad were selected.

“It’s a pleasure to partner with neighboring agencies for the common good,” said Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board President Ed Sprague stated. “Simple changes such as these add up and help ensure a reliable water supply for future generations.”

Regional partnership conserves drinking water

“Leucadia is excited to continue its regional partnership with the Olivenhain Municipal Water District,” said David Kulchin, Leucadia’s board president. “Using recycled water to clean sewer pipelines not only saves precious potable water supplies but continues our efforts to utilize renewable resources to the maximum extent possible.”

In addition to sewer line flushing, municipal street sweeping vehicles that were previously using potable water will be able to access recycled water thanks to the new connections. In accordance with state regulations governing recycled water use, the vactor trucks and street sweeping vehicles will have separate filling systems for potable and recycled water.

Approximately 14% of Olivenhain’s overall water demand is met with recycled water. Olivenhain produces up to two million gallons per day of recycled water at its 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility and supplements additional demand with recycled water purchased from Rancho Santa Fe Community Services District, City of San Diego, Vallecitos Water District, and San Elijo Joint Powers Authority.

‘Baking Skills’ Used for Repair at Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Facility

You might not think ‘baking skills’ would come in handy to fix a recent problem at the Lake Hodges Hydroelectric and Pump Station Facility. But those skills, along with initiative and ingenuity, were demonstrated by San Diego County Water Authority staff as part of the creative and complex repair.

The facility connects the City of San Diego’s Hodges Reservoir with the Water Authority’s Olivenhain Reservoir. The connection provides the ability to store up to 20,000 acre-feet of water at Hodges for emergency use.

Hodges200 Team-Baking Skills-WNN

‘Baking Skills’ Used for Repair at Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Facility

You might not think ‘baking skills’ would come in handy to fix a recent problem at the Lake Hodges Hydroelectric and Pump Station Facility. But those skills, along with initiative and ingenuity, were demonstrated by San Diego County Water Authority staff as part of the creative and complex repair.

The facility connects the City of San Diego’s Hodges Reservoir with the Water Authority’s Olivenhain Reservoir. The connection provides the ability to store up to 20,000 acre-feet of water at Hodges for emergency use.

The Lake Hodges Hydroelectric and Pump Station Facility moves water between Olivenhain and Hodges, and is able to generate up to 40 megawatts of energy on demand, helping to manage electrical demands throughout the County. It also generates revenue and helps offset energy costs.

Ground fault alarm alerts staff

A ground fault alarm on August 25, 2019 alerted staff to a potential problem with Unit 2, one of the facility’s two 20-MW pump-turbine units. A series of tests and inspections by staff with the Water Authority’s Rotating Equipment team discovered the insulation on the copper bus bars of the generator’s rotor were worn and damaged. The bus bars are part of a system that provides DC power to the 12 electromagnets which surround the outer surface of the pump turbine unit’s rotor.

The rotors are designed to spin at 600 revolutions per minute and it’s the rotor’s electromagnets acting upon the stators windings that generates power. The electromagnets are connected together by copper bus bars located on top of the rotor and the bus bars are secured to the rotor by clamping plates and rim studs. The bus bars are insulated to ensure the copper does not touch any other metal surface and cause an inadvertent ground fault.

“Although a single ground fault may not damage the pump-turbine unit, it may prevent it from starting, if two ground faults were to occur, significant damage to the pump-turbine unit would occur and would also be an extreme danger to anyone within the facility,” said Jim Fisher, Water Authority director of operations and maintenance.

Creative solutions and ingenuity save time, money

Among various factors, the primary cause of the insulation failure was determined to be improper wrapping and curing of the insulation during initial installation.

Water Authority staff developed solutions and also took on the repair tasks in September. By doing the work in-house, the Water Authority avoided a more extensive outage due to long lead times required by contractors and vendors to perform the same work, saving time and money.

“Staff did an excellent job maintaining the operation of Unit 1 while making the repairs to Unit 2,” said Fisher, “which allowed the Water Authority to avoid a total shutdown and loss of all revenue during this period.”

HodgesRepairWNN-Water Authority

Initiative and ingenuity by San Diego County Water Authority staff led to a creative repair solution at the Lake Hodges Hydroelectric and Pump Station Facility. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

‘Baking skills’ come in handy to create new bus bars

New copper bus bars were fabricated, and each had to be precisely wrapped by 5 different types of insulating tape materials. This wrapping process alone took approximately 8 hours per bus bar. The bus bars were then baked for ten hours within newly designed and fabricated aluminum molds to ensure proper pressure was applied to the insulation layers during the baking and curing process.

Staff efficiently re-purposed and utilized an oven that had been retained from the San Vicente Dam Raise Project to perform the baking. The Rotating Equipment team’s efforts produced excellent quality results which would have been difficult even for a vendor to meet. The newly insulated bus bars were re-installed, and the unit has been operating safely and without issues.

The initiative, ingenuity, and highly technical skills and knowledge of our staff were once again on display throughout the repairs,” said Fisher. “Their dedication, talents and outstanding efforts continue to ensure the Facility’s efficient and safe operation.”

Unit #2 was tested and placed back into service on November 17, 2019.

Along with the bus bar insulation and curing process repair, staff also performed many other highly technical, innovative and precise processes to complete this repair work.