Posts

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve was originally developed when the Olivenhain Municipal Water District partnered with the San Diego County Water Authority and the Bureau of Land Management as an element of the regional Emergency Storage Project. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Since its opening in 1992, the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve has evolved into one of San Diego County’s most precious natural resources.

Celebrating its milestone 30th anniversary, the reserve, or EFRR, was originally developed when the Olivenhain Municipal Water District partnered with the San Diego County Water Authority and the Bureau of Land Management as part of the regional Emergency Storage Project. Over the past 30 years, OMWD has managed the safe operations of EFRR to provide visitors with recreational, educational, and environmental experiences.

The 784-acre reserve in the heart of San Diego County offers 11 miles of hiking, biking, equestrian trails, picnic areas, and scenic viewing points. It is the central hub of more than 20,000 acres of contiguous open space with fully protected wildlife in perpetuity. Its facilities provide educational experiences for visitors of all ages.

“We look forward to joining with our partners and the public to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of this unique recreational reserve that continues to provide for the conservation of habitats and native species and opportunities to connect with nature,” says Kimberly A. Thorner, General Manager of Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

Creating partnerships to protect open space

The 784-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve offers 11 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The 784-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve offers 11 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The nonprofit Escondido Creek Conservancy is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and protection of the natural open space within the Escondido Creek watershed where EFRR is located.

In March 2008, the Conservancy and OMWD partnered to create the Elfin Forest Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty. Located at the reserve, it is a one-of-a-kind facility designed by local artist James Hubbell, known for his nature-inspired art and architecture. The center features green design elements, including recycled building materials, solar panels powered by photovoltaic cells, and a green roof.

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 Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty 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 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.

“From the very beginning in 1991, the Escondido Creek Conservancy had the intent to set natural lands set aside for the benefit of native plants and animals,” said Leonard Wittwer, Conservancy board president. “For the first few years of our existence, we focused on advocating for wise land-use decisions and physically cleaning up the creek so it could be perceived as worthy of protection.”

Educational experiences encourage outdoor exploration

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Park Rangers, Conservancy staff, and volunteers conduct guided group tours and student exploration programs to help promote environmental awareness and preservation of local watersheds. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Park Rangers, Conservancy staff, and volunteers conduct guided group tours and student exploration programs to help promote environmental awareness and preservation of local watersheds. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

For three decades, the reserve has been designed to unify the interests of domestic water supply development, natural resources management, and recreational opportunities. EFRR offers a variety of educational experiences from guided interpretive walks, hands-on learning in collaboration with local scout troops, publishing EFRR Birdwatching Guides for public use, and a free Junior Ranger program. The Junior Ranger program encourages children to explore the outdoors and helps instill an appreciation for our natural surroundings. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Park Rangers, Conservancy staff, and volunteers conduct guided group tours and student exploration programs to help promote environmental awareness and preservation of local watersheds.

Access to the natural world

Conservancy board president Wittwer says education and access remain priorities.

“We will continue to set aside natural open space, continue to provide high-quality outdoor educational experiences, and continue to operate the Conservancy to the highest business standards,” said Wittwer. “We are looking into ways to provide more access to our preserves, recognizing the many benefits to humans of interacting with the natural world.”

“These experiences don’t just happen,” said OMWD General Manager Kim Thorner. “They are the result of creative people trying to find ways to share the incredible natural gem that is Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. OMWD looks forward to continuing to be the responsible steward of EFRR’s diverse natural resources and collaborating with the Conservancy and other organizations in providing the public outstanding educational experiences and access to nature through EFRR for many years to come.”

(Editor’s note: The Olivenhain Municipal Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Certifies Hydroelectric Turbines at David C. McCollom Water Treatment Plant

Encinitas, Calif. — Hydroelectric generators at Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s David C. McCollom Water Treatment Plant have qualified for the California Energy Commission’s Renewables Portfolio Standard Program and will now generate Renewable Energy Certificates that contribute to the state goal of achieving 60% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

The California Energy Commission’s RPS program was established in 2002 and was accelerated in 2018 by Senate Bill 100, which set a target of achieving 60% of retail sales of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The hydroelectric generators at OMWD’s water treatment plant have been in place since its startup in 2002, offsetting roughly half of the plant’s power demands and saving as much as $60,000 per month in energy costs.

Manchester Avenue Potable Water Pipeline Replacement Project Completed

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District recently completed the Manchester Avenue Potable Water Pipeline Project. In total, 3,700 linear feet of aged potable water pipeline was replaced along Manchester Avenue, Rancho Santa Fe Road and Encinitas Boulevard.

The pipelines previously serving water in this area were installed in 1961 and were approaching the end of their lifespan. OMWD takes a proactive approach in repairing and replacing aging water infrastructure to avoid leaks and ensure the continuation of uninterrupted water service to its customers. In the third year of drought in California, projects like this pipeline replacement, help save potable water and reduces costs to ratepayers.

“Emergency leaks are very costly, can waste millions of gallons of water, and can be disruptive to surrounding communities,” said Bob Topolovac, OMWD board director. “The investments we made to prevent these emergencies will benefit our ratepayers well into the future.”

New video-Olivenhain Municipal Water District-OMWD-Water quality continues to exceed state and federal standards. In addition, due to preventative maintenance, overall water loss decreased in 2021 at the Olivenhain Municipal Water District. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District New Video highlights

New Video Highlights Olivenhain Municipal Water District Achievements in 2021

In its ongoing effort to keep ratepayers and the community informed, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District produced its first “Year In Review” video report for 2021.

The video showcases key achievements of the District, using an accessible digital video format to share details, images, and key facts with ratepayers through a familiar, trusted online platform posted to the District’s YouTube channel.

“Most customers are not aware of the numerous projects and developments ongoing at OMWD, so this video is a great way to package all our wins into one place for easy viewing,” said Joe Jansen, OMWD administrative analyst.

Jansen said many of the District’s fiscal accomplishments aren’t readily visible to the public like infrastructure projects.

“Videos are great informational tools to help keep our residents informed of everything we do and to help build trust with us as their water provider,” said Jansen.

Eight achievements highlighted in the video

  1. OMWD received an AAA bond rating from Fitch Ratings.
  2. OMWD received over $3.6 million in refunds to be credited to customers over the next several years. Funds will be added to the Rate Stabilization Fund and applied as a direct credit to customers’ water bills over the next several years.
  3. OMWD achieved over $1.3 million of state and federal grant funds. Funding will offset the costs of important projects for ratepayers.
  4. OMWD continues to receive the highest recognition from industry groups. Awards recognize the District for its fiscal governance and infrastructure projects.
  5. Water quality continues to exceed state and federal standards. In addition, due to preventative maintenance, overall water loss decreased in 2021.
  6. OMWD completed a pilot study on developing a local water supply through groundwater desalination. Results were favorable from the grant-funded project and the District will continue to assess the project’s feasibility.
  7. OMWD completed several replacement and upgrade projects at its 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility.
  8. Proactive measures were taken to combat the spread of COVID-19. As a result, OMWD had no interruption to customer service and has completed all vital projects during the past year.
In 2021, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District completed several replacement and upgrade projects at its 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District New Video highlights

In 2021, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District completed several replacement and upgrade projects at its 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Award finalist in ACWA 2021 Huell Howser Excellence in Communication Award

(L to R) Board member Neal Meyers, GM Kim Thorner, treasurer Christy Guerin, customer service manager John Carnegie, board member Lawrence Watt, and assistant GM Joey Randall receive ACWA's 2021 Huell Howser Excellence in Communication Award.. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

(L to R) Board member Neal Meyers, GM Kim Thorner, treasurer Christy Guerin, customer service manager John Carnegie, board member Lawrence Watt, and assistant GM Joey Randall receive recognition as finalists for ACWA’s 2021 Huell Howser Excellence in Communication Award. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

(Editor’s note: The Olivenhain Municipal Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Training Preps North County Firefighters for Confined Space Rescues

North San Diego County fire agencies teamed up with Olivenhain Municipal Water District in early December for confined space training drills. The drills prepare firefighting professionals to respond to emergencies in facilities such as water or wastewater treatment plants and are required to maintain their confined space certification.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Seeks Input on New Director Division Boundaries

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors is hosting a public hearing on December 15 at 5:30 p.m. to gather public input on new director division boundaries.

The hearing is the first of three scheduled hearings at which OMWD will accept input about communities that should be grouped together for the purpose of electing representatives to OMWD’s Board of Directors.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Offers Low-Cost Rain Barrels to Help Customers Save Water

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District has partnered with neighboring water districts—San Dieguito Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, and Carlsbad Municipal Water District—to offer discounted rain barrels to area residents this winter.

Rain barrels ordered by January 31, 2022 will be available for pick up at Solana Center for Environmental Innovation located at 137 North El Camino Real in Encinitas.

Fifty-gallon barrels are on sale for $97, with a final cost of $62 after a $35 rebate from water wholesaler Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Rebates on rain barrels and other water-saving measures are available at www.socalwatersmart.com.

OMWD to Refund Customers $1.62 million

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors unanimously voted at its Nov. 17 meeting to refund $1.62 million to customers to reduce the impact of future water rate increases. The refund resulted from lawsuits filed by San Diego County Water Authority in 2010 and 2018, challenging the legality of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s water rates and charges and seeking payment for legal damages and interest.

OMWD to Refund Customers $1.62 Million From Water Wholesalers

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors unanimously voted at its November 17 meeting to refund $1.62 million to customers to reduce the impact of future water rate increases. The refund resulted from lawsuits filed by San Diego County Water Authority in 2010 and 2018, challenging the legality of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s water rates and charges and seeking payment for legal damages and interest.

Water infrastructure-Olivenhain Municipal Water District-Base paving along El Camino Real across from Camino Encinitas Plaza, just north of Via Montoro. Photo: OMWD joint project by Olivenhainv

Joint Project By Olivenhain MWD and City of Encinitas Reaches Final Phase

The El Camino Real Potable Water Pipeline Replacement and Green Bike Lane Striping Project has reached its final stage. After the Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board approved filing of a notice of completion for the pipeline portion of the project, the City of Encinitas will finish restoring the street and complete new bike lane striping.

The original pipelines were installed in 1961 and 1974 and fast approaching the end of their lifespan. OMWD replaced approximately 4,700 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter potable water pipeline along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Garden View Road, and approximately 650 linear feet of existing 12-inch diameter pipeline between Via Molena and Mountain Vista Drive. Water service lines and fire hydrant laterals served by the existing pipelines were also replaced.

The pipeline replacement will reduce water loss and prevent emergency shutdowns due to leaks. This is vitally important for water conservation and to ensure water supply reliability for businesses and residents, more important than ever due to drought conditions in the region.

“Proactive maintenance is a big part of what we do,” said Olivenhain Municipal Water District Board President Larry Watt. “Replacing aging infrastructure before it breaks helps to avoid emergencies, which are more costly and more impactful to customers.”

Coordination minimizes community inconvenience

Lowering a section of the new potable water pipe into a trench in El Camino Real joint project by OlivenhainLowering a section of the new potable water pipe into a trench in El Camino Real joint project by Olivenhain

Lowering a section of the new potable water pipe into a trench in El Camino Real. Night work helped minimize the inconvenience to nearby businesses and homes. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

To mitigate the impact to the surrounding community, OMWD coordinated with the City of Encinitas on its green bike lane project along the same route. The District implemented the lane restriping portion of the project on behalf of the City of Encinitas concurrently with the pipeline replacement project as an efficiency measure.

As a result, the two agencies combined what would normally be two separate, unrelated infrastructure improvement projects into a single effort to improve operational efficiency and reduce the temporary inconvenience of disruptions to area residents and businesses.

The bike lane will provide traffic calming measures, including improvements to safety and mobility for bicyclists along North El Camino Real from Encinitas Boulevard to Leucadia Boulevard by restriping and narrowing travel lanes. In addition, green-colored striping will augment some areas on the bike lanes and new signage and pavement markings will be installed.

“It was very important to us from the outset of the project to mitigate its impacts to the community, while also keeping costs down,” said Watt. “To that end, the partnership with the City of Encinitas was critical. They coordinated closely with us every step of the way.”

At the start of the project, the City of Encinitas requested that work be done at night to further reduce traffic impacts. Capitalizing on the reduced traffic as a result of the statewide stay-at-home order, OMWD was able to shift construction to the daytime for a portion of the project. Working during the day is more efficient and safer than night work, and minimized noise impacts to the surrounding neighbors. However, as traffic returned to normal levels, the City shifted work hours back to overnight.

New bike lanes due by December

Dedicated green bike lanes such as this example have an expected December completion date. Photo: Courtesy City of Encinitas

Dedicated green bike lanes such as this example have an expected December completion date. Photo: Courtesy City of Encinitas

The final work effort will include buffered bike lanes on the east and west, and fully restoring three lanes of traffic. Work is anticipated to occur through early December. Traffic controls will be in place during the day and at night with the most significant work occurring at night. Residents and businesses should anticipate lane closures and consider alternative transportation routes.

For questions specific to the City of Encinitas’ Active Transportation Enhancing Project, please email or call 760-943-2211.

(Editor’s note: The Olivenhain Municipal Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)