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The newly opened Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Interpretive Center was constructed as a centerpiece of environmental education through a cooperative effort. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Celebrates Decade of Outdoor Education

Residents, volunteers, and officials gathered June 1 at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in Escondido to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Interpretive Center honoring Susan J. Varty.

Visitors explore the Interpretive Center on its opening day June 1. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Visitors explore the Interpretive Center on its opening day June 1. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Located at OMWD’s Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, the center was constructed as a centerpiece of environmental education through a cooperative effort between OMWD and the Escondido Creek Conservancy.

“As we celebrate ten years of operation, we couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished by working together,” said OMWD Board Secretary Robert Kephart. “Yet, without the dedicated support of docents and donors, this one-of-a-kind facility with its many successful education programs would not have been possible. We also honor their efforts today.”

The Center’s namesake, Susan J. Varty, served as an OMWD board director from 1994 until her death in 2009. She exhibited a passion and tenacity for water issues and environmental preservation.

Reserve provides regional resource for outdoor education, and environmental appreciation

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve provides a wealth of opportunities for recreation, outdoor education, and environmental appreciation for all ages. Photo: Olivehain Municipal Water District

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve provides a wealth of opportunities for recreation, outdoor education, and environmental appreciation for all ages. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve provides a wealth of opportunities for recreation, outdoor education, and environmental appreciation.

Olivenhain partnered with the San Diego County Water Authority and the Bureau of Land Management to develop the 784-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve as part of the regional Emergency Storage Project. The reserve opened in 1992. Currently, the reserve offers approximately 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, as well as picnic areas and scenic mountain viewing points.

The Escondido Creek Conservancy has formed alliances with landowners, government agencies, and education and community groups to increase awareness of the invaluable resources intrinsic to the Escondido Creek watershed.

Originally, Olivenhain planned to construct a cinder block building with the assistance of a $68,500 grant from California’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The Conservancy sought at the same time to establish a location close to Escondido Creek for hosting educational programs. The timing allowed the organizations to form a mutually beneficial partnership.

The new Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve's Interpretive Center features The building also features green design elements such as recycled building materials, solar panels powered by photovoltaic cells, and a green roof. Photo: Olivehain Municipal Water District

The new Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve’s Interpretive Center features green design elements such as recycled building materials, solar panels powered by photovoltaic cells, and a green roof. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Conservancy raised over $565,000 from individual donors to complete the enhanced design and center construction. Another $200,000 was raised for educational programs, including wildlife displays and nature activities.

Renowned local artist James T. Hubbell designed the center and several original works by Hubbell and his collaborations with other artists are on display. The building also features green design elements such as recycled building materials, solar panels powered by photovoltaic cells, and a green roof.

New grant funding provides educational field trips

The new Escondido Creek Eichen Education Fund will continue the joint education programs held at the Elfin Forest's interpretive center in perpetuity. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The new Escondido Creek Eichen Education Fund will continue the joint education programs held at the Elfin Forest’s interpretive center in perpetuity. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

More than 3,650 students visited the reserve on field trips during the 2018-2019 school year. The Conservancy provides the opportunity for students in disadvantaged communities to attend field trips through grant funding. Additional education partners are the Nature Collective and San Diego Zoo.

At the event, the Conservancy announced the creation of the Escondido Creek Eichen Education Fund. The new fund will continue the joint education programs held at the center in perpetuity.

“The Escondido Creek Conservancy’s education department helps bring thousands of underserved, urban-based students from Escondido out to the Elfin Forest every year so they can experience the outdoors, many for the first time in their lives,“ said Conservancy board member Jeff Swenerton. “This is vitally important because we can’t expect the next generation to value nature if they’ve never been exposed to it.

“We’re reaching more children now than in any other time in our organization’s history,” added Swenerton. “It’s very exciting to see the impact we’re making, but we’ve reached a point where we need to launch the Escondido Creek Eichen Education Fund campaign to sustain our success and enable us to continue connecting children with nature.”

The center is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., depending on the availability of the reserve’s 65 docents. View the current docent schedule on the center’s website.

 

OMWD Board President Ed Sprague with 2019 poster contest winners (L to R) Sayla Egger, Addison Bowe, and Delaney Owens. Photo: OMWD Water Awareness

Encinitas Students Take Home Honors in OMWD’s 2019 Water Awareness Poster Contest

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors recognized the winners of the 2019 North County Water Agencies Water Awareness Poster Contest at its May 22 meeting.

Fourth-grade students living or attending school within OMWD’s service area were invited to enter the contest earlier this year. The top three posters all hailed from Mrs. Goyette’s class at Flora Vista Elementary in Encinitas.

Sayla Egger’s first-place poster features a superhero pup and encourages people to conserve water by recycling it.

Sayla Egger’s first-place poster features a superhero pup and encourages people to conserve water by recycling it. Photo: OMWD

Sayla Egger’s first-place poster features a superhero pup and encourages people to conserve water by recycling it. Photo: OMWD

Addison Bowe, the second-place winner, designed a poster that highlights the connection between water conservation and pollution prevention.

Addison Bowe, the second-place winner, designed a poster that highlights the connection between water conservation and pollution prevention. Photo: OMWD Poster Contest

Addison Bowe, the second-place winner, designed a poster that highlights the connection between water conservation and pollution prevention. Photo: OMWD

The poster that received third-place honors was created by Delaney Owens and portrays a side-by-side comparison of a world with water and a world without.

The poster that received third-place honors was created by Delaney Owens and portrays a side-by-side comparison of a world with water and a world without. Photo: OMWD

The poster that received third-place honors was created by Delaney Owens and portrays a side-by-side comparison of a world with water and a world without. Photo: OMWD

Contest encourages students to think about the importance of using water wisely

“We are fortunate to have such talented young artists in our area,” stated OMWD Board President Ed Sprague. “The annual poster contest is a great way for them to show off their talent and gets students thinking about the importance of using water wisely.”

The annual poster contest asks fourth-grade students to use their imaginations to create images that raise awareness on water-related issues. This year’s theme was “Be Water Smart.” The competition has occurred on a yearly basis for 26 years, and is an opportunity to teach students that everyone can take actions to use water efficiently, regardless of age.

Each winner received a prize along with a certificate of honor. North County water agencies will feature the winners’ artwork in their 2020 Water Awareness Calendar which will be available for free from OMWD later this year. The images will also be displayed in OMWD outreach material and on district vehicles.

 

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

OMWD Honored with Distinguished Budget Award for Eighteenth Consecutive Year

Encinitas, Calif. — At its May 22 meeting, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors accepted for its 2018-2019 fiscal year budget the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. This marks the eighteenth consecutive year OMWD has achieved this award.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Recycled Water Pipelines Named ‘Project of the Year’

Encinitas, Calif.—American Public Works Association’s San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter has recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Avenida La Posta Recycled Water Project as “Project of the Year.” The award, celebrating OMWD’s engineering and project management efforts, was presented yesterday at a reception at Paradise Point Resort in San Diego.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility Named Recycled Water Plant of the Year in Statewide Competition

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility was recognized today by California Water Environment Association as its 2019 Plant of the Year (Small). The award was presented during CWEA’s Annual Conference in Palm Springs and acknowledges OMWD’s efforts to increase water supply reliability by reducing imported water demand.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Named California’s Recycled Water Agency of the Year

Encinitas, CA—The WaterReuse Association of California today recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District as its 2019 Agency of the Year (Medium). The award was presented this morning at WateReuse’s annual conference in Garden Grove.

 

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Expands Recycled Water Service in Rancho Santa Fe

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District began serving recycled water to the Del Rayo Downs Homeowner Association in Rancho Santa Fe this week. The conversion to recycled water enables the HOA to save money on its monthly water bill while decreasing imported water demand by approximately 17.5 acre-feet annually. An acre-foot is enough to serve two typical families of four for a year.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

OMWD Recognized for Water Advocacy in Washington

Encinitas, Calif.—The Association of California Water Agencies recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District today with its “Most Effective Agency on Federal Issues” award. The award was presented to OMWD General Manager Kimberly Thorner at ACWA’s annual conference in Washington, DC.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

Water Districts Offer Discounted Rain Barrels to Save Water

Encinitas, Calif.—To encourage water conservation and reduce runoff that can carry pollutants into local waterways and beaches, Olivenhain Municipal Water District has partnered with Carlsbad Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, and Santa Fe Irrigation District to offer discounted rain barrels to area residents. Rain barrels ordered by February 26 will be available for pick up at Solana Center for Environmental Innovation on March 2, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The center is located at 137 North El Camino Real in Encinitas.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo Budget Award

Learn How to Transform Your Landscape and Increase Water Efficiency at a Free Workshop

Encinitas, Calif.—Olivenhain Municipal Water District and San Dieguito Water District have partnered to offer a free WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop. The event will be held Tuesday, February 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Encinitas Community Center, located at 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive in Encinitas.