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The San Diego County Water Authority has a long history of supporting a portfolio approach to address mounting environmental and water supply challenges in the Bay-Delta, the hub of the State Water Project. Photo: California DWR

Water Authority Invites Gov. Newsom to Tour Facilities, Praises Portfolio Approach to Water Security

The San Diego County Water Authority today praised Gov. Gavin Newsom for taking a proactive, far-sighted approach to water supply planning for California, and pledged to help the governor advance his portfolio strategy for water security in the face of a changing climate.

In a letter to Newsom, Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer thanked the governor for the “wisdom and leadership” shown last week with the issuance of Executive Order N-10-19 and invited the governor to tour San Diego County’s cutting-edge water facilities.

Newsom’s order directed his administration to “identify and assess a suite of complementary actions to ensure safe and resilient water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy and environment.” Newsom then directed state agencies to scrap Brown Administration plans for a $18 billion two-tunnel system for moving water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta in favor of a one-tunnel system.

“We congratulate you on Executive Order N-10-19 and stand ready to support you and work with other stakeholders to ensure its success,” Madaffer wrote to Newsom. “If state and federal dollars are prioritized to support local, integrated planning solutions, we will realize the State’s 2009 promise to reduce demand on the Bay-Delta.”

Portfolio Planning For Water Security

The Water Authority has a long history of both portfolio planning for the region’s water security and supporting a portfolio approach to address mounting environmental and water supply challenges in the Bay-Delta, the hub of the State Water Project.

“Almost two decades ago, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors chose to take affirmative steps to change what had been an ‘end-of-the-pipeline’ mentality, when our agency relied greatly on water imported from the Bay-Delta,” Madaffer said. “In other words, we embraced then the intent of Executive Order N-10-19, and believe our experience is proof that it can be done.”

In 2013, the Water Authority joined several Southern and Northern California water districts, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other conservation groups in proposing a Portfolio Alternative for the Bay-Delta. That proposal included a single tunnel, increasing water storage south of the Bay-Delta, and significant investments in local and regional water supplies.

That approach didn’t gain enough support in the Brown administration, but it aligns closely with Gov. Newsom’s executive order.

Strategic partnerships

The portfolio approach also aligns with what history has shown to be a highly successful strategy in San Diego County, which relied almost entirely on water supplies controlled by external interests in 1991.

“After suffering the devastating impacts of drought and water shortages that year, our community got to work, determined to gain local control over the cost and reliability of our water,” Madaffer said. “Since then, the Water Authority and its member agencies have invested over $2 billion in local projects.”

Those investments include:

  • The nation’s largest agricultural water conservation and transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District
  • The first new dam in the county in more than 50 years at Olivenhain Reservoir
  • The nation’s largest seawater desalination plant, producing up to 56,000 acre-feet of water annually
  • The raising of San Vicente Dam, more than doubling its capacity
  • Water-use efficiency programs that have helped reduce per capita potable water use by more than 40 percent in San Diego County

“Every dollar of investment the Water Authority has made represents a commensurate reduction of take on the Bay-Delta,” said Madaffer’s letter.

He noted that the Water Authority and its member agencies are still at work, with more local projects on the drawing board, including a Pure Water potable reuse program being developed by the City of San Diego and the East County Advanced Water Purification Project.

“We are also continuing to plan for the future, with an upcoming study that will explore water, conveyance, storage, treatment and energy opportunities with strategic partners in Imperial Valley, Mexico and across the Southwest,” Madaffer said. “This initiative is the next generation of the Water Authority’s evolution, and the ‘poster child’ for your Portfolio Alternative.”

The Water Authority is looking at new integrated solutions such as a storage account in Lake Mead that would help raise water levels in the drought-stressed reservoir and avoid formal shortage conditions that could hamper water deliveries across the Southwest. The Water Authority also is supporting a Salton Sea action plan that will protect both the environment and public health; binational opportunities with Mexico; and clean energy generation.

Alfred and Audrey Vargas with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer after they were awarded first place in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair for designing a device that could treat wastewater and generate electricity. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego County Students Shape the Future of Water

On April 25, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors honored the latest group of water-related award winners from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair as part of the agency’s effort to inspire young people to pursue water industry careers.

This year’s middle school and high school science and engineering projects displayed a wide range of innovative ways to solve a variety of water issues people face today.

In the senior division, Alfred and Audrey Vargas won the first place award with the design of a new device to treat wastewater and generate electricity simultaneously using hydrogen fuel cell technology. The siblings, who attend Sweetwater High School, also won their division last year and continue their work in designing devices and systems that can potentially be used in developing countries where resources are scarce.

Alfred and Audrey Vargas combined their passion for science and engineering with an awareness of water issues to design a device that treats wastewater and generates electricity. Photo: Water Authority

Alfred and Audrey came back this year to win the senior division for the second time. Alfred is heading to UC Berkeley in the fall to study chemical engineering, and Audrey will continue developing their designs in her last two years of high school. Photo: Water Authority

Alfred and Audrey have been competing in science fairs since they were in middle school and have always been inspired by a drive to solve world water issues in affordable ways.

“As we’re looking for the next generation of water industry professionals, events like the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair are the perfect opportunity to connect with and support students who are already interested in relevant water issues,” said Water Authority principal public affairs representative Risa Baron, who helped select the winners. “These young thinkers and inventors can make huge strides in solving future water challenges around the world.”

Finding inspiration in the natural world

Cambridge School student Emily Tianshi won the second place award in the senior division. She looked beyond the ocean views at Torrey Pines State Park to see the intelligent ways that nature sustains itself and how those can be imitated.

Emily spent the past three years perfecting a design for a device that can capture moisture from the air like Torrey Pine needles do. Using 3-D printing technology to bring her project to life, Emily demonstrated that the naturally occurring ridges of Torrey Pine needles efficiently collect water, and she designed a model of a device that would mimic the shape of the needles.

Middle school students display stellar scientific knowledge and creativity

The winners of the junior division show off their awards with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. Photo: Water Authority

The winners of the junior division show off their awards with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. Photo: Water Authority

In the junior division, Brendan Cordaro and Max Shaffer from Saint John School in Encinitas teamed up to win first place with “The Water Maker,” a homemade device that transformed a miniature refrigerator into a means of collecting water from the air.

Oliver Trojanowski, who is also a middle school student at the Saint John School, won the second place award in the junior division. Oliver surveyed several sites in the region to test for water quality and determine toxicity levels in stormwater runoff.

Matthew Angulo from the Corfman School in El Centro earned the third place award in the junior division. He travelled over 100 miles to showcase his results from several tests of water samples from the Colorado River.

Welcoming the next generation of water professionals and leaders

More than 2,800 people across all levels of educational attainment work at the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to provide safe and reliable water supplies to the region.

The Water Authority and its member agencies are committed to fostering the next generation of industry professionals and leaders. Engineers, system operators, maintenance technicians, customer service representatives and utility workers are just some of the many careers available in the water industry.

The “San Diego Grown Photo Contest” on Instagram and Twitter highlights the significance of agriculture to the regional economy. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego Grown Photo Contest Highlights County’s Agricultural Bounty

The San Diego County Water Authority is hosting a social media photo contest during Water Awareness Month in May to celebrate how safe and reliable water supplies fuel the region’s local farms and food production.

The “San Diego Grown Photo Contest” on Instagram and Twitter highlights the significance of agriculture to the regional economy. As one of the nation’s top producers of avocados, ornamental trees and shrubs, flowers, succulents, lemons, and other agricultural products, San Diego County’s farms generate nearly $4.8 billion in total annual economic activity on some 250,000 acres.

The contest is part of the Water Authority’s ongoing Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, designed to convey the importance water supply reliability for sustaining the region’s 3.3 million people and its $231 billion economy. The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies work together to meet current and future water demands, while promoting water-use efficiency.

“Safe and reliable water supplies help more than 5,500 farms to thrive in our region – not to mention countless backyard gardens, community gardens and farmers markets,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “This photo contest offers everyone a chance to showcase their favorite locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and nursery plants, and to win some great prizes donated by sponsors who share our commitment to our region’s most precious natural resource.”

Agriculture: brought to you by water

The Water Authority is coordinating with the nonprofit local chapter of the Farm Bureau, which is supported solely by more than 2,000 dues-paying members. Established in 1914, it serves the needs of the San Diego agriculture community through a variety of advocacy and education initiatives.

“Farming is a foundational piece of our regional economy and quality of life – but it doesn’t happen without a reliable water supply,” said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “Our farmers are constantly innovating to use water more efficiently through adopting new technology and more-efficient crops.”

Reliable water supply helps drive regional economy

Entering the photo contest is easy: Take a photo of your favorite locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers or nursery plants and post the photo to Instagram or Twitter using #B2UbyH2O between May 1-31. Participants must be at least 18 years old to enter.

Qualifying submissions are eligible for prizes generously donated by local businesses and organizations including Specialty Produce, the San Diego County Farm Bureau, and Jimbo’s …Naturally! Winners will be drawn randomly each week from posts that meet contest rules here, and they will be announced on social media.

Over the past year, the Water Authority has highlighted an array of the region’s core industries – including tourism, manufacturing and brewing – that would not exist without substantial investments in water supply reliability by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.

Water levels in Lake Mead have been declining due to a long-term drought in the Colorado River Basin. Photo: National Park Service

OPINION: San Diego Is Ready For Some Big Water Solutions

Back in the early 1990s — near the start of my career at San Diego City Hall — the San Diego County Water Authority launched a historic effort to sustain the region’s economy and quality of life by diversifying our water supplies so that we didn’t depend on one source for 95 percent of our water. That effort took many forms, many billions of dollars and more than two decades — but it paid off in spades. Even though we are at the literal end of the pipeline, today we have among the most diversified and secure water supply systems anywhere.

Full story here: https://bit.ly/2VDRBE7

 

 

 

County Water Authority Proposes Sweeping Legal Settlement with Metropolitan Water District

San Diego County water officials, who have been mired in legal disputes with their counterparts to the north over billions of dollars in rates and methodology, proposed a sweeping compromise Thursday that, if accepted, could end years of acrimony and expensive litigation.

San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer today sent a letter to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors, settiing the stage for an equitable resolution of long-running rate cases. Photo: FourSquare/Creative Commons Madaffer's letter

Water Authority Board Chair Outlines Compromise Terms to Potentially End MWD Litigation

San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer today sent a letter to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors that lays out a potential compromise approach by both parties designed to end nearly a decade of litigation over MWD’s rates.

The letter includes specific, practical terms that respect both the Water Authority’s and MWD’s perspectives towards an equitable conclusion in coming weeks.

“Concluding all pending court cases is in the best interest of everyone involved, and it would allow us to begin a new era of collaboration on other important regional and state issues,” said Madaffer, who started his tenure as chair on Oct. 1. “I hope MWD will embrace this gesture of good faith to seek settlement, and that we can do so in an expeditious and fair manner.”

Madaffer’s letter builds on the commitment of his predecessor, prior Water Authority Board Chair Mark Muir, to seek an end to lawsuits that started in 2010 and involve billions of dollars of contested rates and charges.

The Water Authority won several significant items in two cases covering MWD’s rates for 2011-2014, including additional rights to approximately 100,000 acre-feet a year of MWD water, invalidation of an illegal contract clause that MWD used to deny support for local supply development projects, and damages and interest on tens of millions of dollars of unlawful Water Stewardship Rate charges by MWD. The courts allowed MWD to continue charging historic State Water Project costs in water transportation rates charged to the Water Authority.

Key terms outlined in Madaffer’s letter include:

  • Neither party should be expected to give up anything it won in court.
  • MWD would change the way it charges for delivering the Water Authority’s independent supplies from the Colorado River by adopting a fixed price and tying future price increases to an inflation index each January 1.
  • The Water Authority would drop pending claims challenging the legality of MWD’s Water Stewardship Rates that MWD charges on the purchase of MWD water supplies.
  • The Water Authority would accept $5 million in attorneys’ fees and costs, a substantial reduction from the $8.9 million the trial court awarded to the Water Authority.
  • MWD’s Board would approve a pending agreement to provide through its Local Resource Program funding for the Carlsbad Desalination Project, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Project, the Padre Dam-East County Advanced Water Purification Project and other pending local supply project agreements.
  • The Water Authority would be granted a sub-account in MWD’s Colorado River Lake Mead Storage Project to store 200,000 acre-feet of eligible Water Authority supplies in Lake Mead, which would benefit both MWD and the Colorado Basin states.

The complete letter is posted here.

Background

 More than 20 years ago, the Water Authority and its member agencies began improving the San Diego region’s water supply reliability by lessening reliance on MWD, which at the time supplied about 95 percent of all the water used in San Diego County.

The cornerstone of that diversification strategy is a set of agreements known collectively as the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement, which was signed in 2003 to secure independent water supplies for the Water Authority from the Colorado River. To deliver these supplies to San Diego County, the Water Authority must use pipelines operated by MWD because MWD owns the only large-scale conveyance facilities in Southern California for transporting water.

The Water Authority filed suit in 2010 seeking to invalidate MWD’s rates, and then filed additional suits in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 because MWD kept adopting rates using the same methodology and flawed cost allocations. A series of court decisions have been issued in the 2010 and 2012 cases. The other cases have been stayed in Superior Court during the appellate process on the initial two lawsuits.

Additional information is available on the Water Authority website.

READ MORE:

San Diego Union Tribune: County water authority proposes sweeping legal settlement with Metropolitan Water District

Times of San Diego: Water Authority Offers to End Decade-Old Rate Dispute with Los Angeles

Water Authority, NASSCO & EDC Celebrate Manufacturing Day

General Dynamics NASSCO – one of the San Diego region’s largest employers – hosted Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer and Jesse Gipe,  senior economic development manager for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.,  for national Manufacturing Day on Oct. 5 as part of a partnership to promote the importance of a safe and reliable water supply to sustain the local economy.  The partnership was forged during the Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, which includes stakeholders from key industry sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, brewing and agriculture.

See video of Madaffer’s onsite tour here.

 

Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer provided the keynote address at the 2018 North County Water Symposium. Photo: Water Authority

North County Water Symposium Highlights Efforts to Ensure Reliability

Escondido — The 2018 North County Water Symposium on Wednesday highlighted efforts by the San Diego County Water Authority to ensure regional water reliability for a crowd of about 100 North County business and industry leaders.

Keynote speaker Jim Madaffer, the Water Authority’s newly elected board Chair, reviewed the Water Authority’s historic achievements in water supply diversification. He also discussed continued regional development of water recycling capacity and investments in technology to maintain billions of dollars worth of water infrastructure.

“As the Water Authority approaches our 75th year,” said Madaffer, “we are doing everything we can …  to make sure that we have a resilient water supply for the region.”

The symposium was organized by the San Diego North Economic Development Council. It featured a panel discussion on water supply and reliability for San Diego North County, with a focus on agriculture and housing. Panelists were Greg Thomas, general manager of Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District; Cari Dale, water utilities director for the City of Oceanside; Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau; and Michael McSweeney, senior public policy advisor for the San Diego Building Industry Association.

Larson highlighted efforts by farmers to increase water-use efficiency and advance recycled water use to support their multi-billion dollar industry. McSweeney said the building industry improves water efficiency when it replaces decades-old homes with new homes that use less water and less energy thanks to modern technologies.

Larson and Thomas say their respective industries share a similar challenge. Larson said fewer young adults today choose farming careers. Thomas expressed the same concerns about the water industry. “There is so much emphasis among high school students on going to college, we aren’t training enough water technology employees” to replace a “silver tsunami” of retiring Baby Boomers, he said.

Madaffer and the panelists agreed that continued dialogue and coordinated efforts among the North County region’s leaders across all economic sectors can drive economic growth while ensuring water efficiency and reliability.

The San Diego County Water Authority presented its inaugural Water Innovation & Efficiency Award to Kyocera. Photo: Water Authority

Kyocera First Recipient of New Water Authority Award

In an effort to remind regional stakeholders in the business community about the importance of water to San Diego’s regional economy, the San Diego County Water Authority presented its inaugural ‘Water Innovation & Efficiency Award’ to Kyocera International during the Industrial Environmental Association’s 34th annual conference at the San Diego Convention Center on September 28.

Kyocera was honored for its strong commitment to reusing water multiple in its production processes, thereby decreasing its water use by nearly 20 percent since 2014. This conserves more than 6 million gallons per year.

“Water is our most precious natural resource, and it’s so rewarding to see major employers like Kyocera redouble their efforts to use – and re-use – water efficiently,” said Jim Madaffer, whose term as chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors starts Oct. 1. “Corporate leadership like this, coupled with investments in water supply reliability, will help sustain our thriving economy and unparalleled quality of life.”

Madaffer presented the award to Kyocera in front of about 250 people at the conference. “There are a lot of folks in the industrial community here in San Diego,” he said. “By Kyocera’s example, we’re hoping that other companies follow their lead, being able to do what they can to save water for all of our region as well.”

Kyocera’s Meridith Marquis, Roger Blankenship and Mark Brodie accepted the award on behalf of the company.“Kyocera’s corporate motto is ‘Respect the Divine and Love People,’ which compels us to manufacture in resource-saving, eco-friendly ways,” said Marquis, divisional vice president for general affairs. “It takes a lot of water to manufacture the technology that surrounds us, and we must act in good conscience to recycle as much of that water as possible. The fact that we can save money while doing this makes it a win-win all around.”

View the award presentation video here.

Kyocera’s innovative efforts pay off

Headquartered in San Diego, Kyocera’s North American operations were established in 1971. Today, the company employs about 625 people locally and manufactures high-tech products such as ceramic semiconductor packages and microelectronic devices at its San Diego plant.

Kyocera has been investing in water-use efficiency at its local plant since 2000, with a marked increase in savings since 2014. Recent water savings result from:

  • Converting to a closed-loop cooling system that uses water multiple times instead of once
  • Re-using water from plating operations to cool its onsite co-generation plant
  • Installing water meters for production groups and making them accountable for water use
  • Adding flow regulators to fine-tune the amount of water delivered for manufacturing processes
  • Replenishing plating tanks only when necessary instead of continuously

Kyocera achieved significant water savings by installing a basic, off-the-shelf $30 valve allowing the company to repurpose reverse osmosis water that didn’t meet purity standards, and instead use it as cooling water. This single creative adjustment alone saved about 373,000 gallons per month. In all, Kyocera is saving about $62,500 a year in water costs compared to 2014, while upholding its corporate mission to embrace sustainability.

The Water Innovation & Efficiency Award is part of the Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, designed to enhance the regional appreciation for the value of the safe and reliable water supplies. That effort includes enhanced partnerships to highlight the importance of water reliability to the region’s economy for tourism, agriculture, brewing, manufacturing and other key sectors.

This fall, the Water Authority is focusing on manufacturing companies with “products that put San Diego on the map.” For more information, go to the Brought To You By Water website.

 

San Diego County Water Authority Logo Stacked Tagline

Water Authority Presents Kyocera With 2018 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego County Water Authority this morning presented its 2018 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award to Kyocera for reducing its annual water use by more than 6 million gallons at its San Diego facility, a decrease of nearly 20 percent since 2014.

The award marks the Water Authority’s inaugural effort to recognize water-efficiency investments among the region’s top manufacturing companies in conjunction with the Industrial Environmental Association. The 2018 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award was announced at the IEA’s 34th Annual Environmental Conference at the San Diego Convention Center.