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San Diego Tree Week: Concerts and Free Trees

The Water Conservation Garden is celebrating Spring this year by launching San Diego Tree Week. The goal, from April 22-29, is to plant 1,000 trees and bring San Diego residents together through tree planting.

San Diego Tree Week-Earth Day-Arbor Day-Water Conservation Garden

San Diego Tree Week: Concerts and Free Trees

The Water Conservation Garden is celebrating Spring this year by launching San Diego Tree Week. The goal, from April 22-29, is to plant 1,000 trees and bring San Diego residents together through tree planting.

As drought stretches into a third year in California, The Water Conservation Garden hopes the tree week campaign will help educate and increase awareness of the environmental benefits of tree planting. Some of the benefits include removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

San Diego Tree Week and free trees

The Water Conservation Garden will kick off San Diego Tree Week with a free event and tree giveaway.

Certified arborist Jose Bedoya of Leaf it to Us Tree Service will lead a workshop on April 23, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. on choosing the right tree for the right place. Bedoya teaches at Cuyamaca College, where he received a Certified Arborist Certificate.

The tree giveaway will follow the workshop. After the free tree event, another workshop will start at 11:30 a.m. on tree planting and care, led by Board Certified Master Arborist Brad Brown of Tree Life Consulting. In 2011, Brown obtained Registered Consulting Arborist status. A year later he became a Board Certified Master Arborist.

Registration and attendance to at least one of the workshops is required to receive a tree, which are first come first serve.

San Diego Tree Week features a tree giveaway and workshops. (Photo: Free Tree Giveaway at The Water Conservation Fall Garden Festival in 2021 courtesy of The Water Conservation Garden)

From Earth Day to Arbor Day

A few more hands-on ways to get involved include leading a tree planting event, volunteering at a local tree planting site, and becoming a tree planting site. They’re also looking for financial help through donations, gifted tree seedlings, and sponsorship opportunities.

San Diego Tree Week concerts

Another way to participate with the whole family is attending the San Diego Tree Week Concerts. The concerts, sponsored by Union Bank, will feature certified double platinum singer, songwriter Ryan Cabrera and special guest Lexington Field.

The concerts are suitable for all ages and will close out Tree Week on April 26 and 27, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on both nights.

San Diego Tree Week-Earth Day-Arbor Day

Ryan Cabrera, musician, certified double-platinum singer, songwriter.

The venue on April 26 will be The Water Conservation Garden. The April 27 concert is at the Second Chance Beer Company. Tickets are $30 for members of the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum or members of The Water Conservation Garden; general admission is $40. Ticket sales from the April 27 San Diego Tree Week concert will benefit the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.

Water conservation and sustainability

Six Joint Powers Agencies own The Garden and have contracted with Friends of the Water Conservation, a nonprofit organization, to manage it. The agencies are the San Diego County Water Authority, the City of San Diego, Helix Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Otay Water District and Cuyamaca College.

The mission of The Water Conservation Garden is to educate and inspire through excellent exhibits and programs that promote water conservation and the sustainable use of related natural resources.

(Editor’s note: The City of San Diego, Helix Water District, Otay Water District, and Sweetwater Authority, are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Otay Water District Selects Instagram Photo Contest Winners

The Otay Water District selected four winners in its New Year-themed Instagram photo contest as part of its campaign to encourage water-saving efforts during the statewide drought. One is an Otay Water District customer, and three others live within San Diego County.

The four talented photographers put their skills to use, helping to make their community’s residents and businesses more aware of the need to save water.

Photographer @rosie_barnett_photography is the 2022 Otay Water District Instagram Photo Content first-place winner.-Otay Water District-drought-Water Conservation

Otay Water District Selects Instagram Photo Contest Winners

The Otay Water District selected four winners in its New Year-themed Instagram photo contest as part of its campaign to encourage water-saving efforts during the statewide drought. One is an Otay Water District customer, and three others live within San Diego County.

The four talented photographers put their skills to use, helping to make their community’s residents and businesses more aware of the need to save water.

“This contest was one of many ways we continue to educate the community on the importance of saving water,” said Otay Water District Board President Tim Smith. “Although San Diego County may have reliable supplies for 2022 and beyond, the state remains in a drought, and the Otay Water District is doing its part to support the state’s efforts asking residents and businesses to step up conservation efforts now for current and future conditions.”

Photo contest winners depict family and nature

All photo entries were posted to social media, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, using the hashtag #OtaySaveWaterResolution. Although the contest was open to all U.S. residents, the Otay Water District encouraged its customers to enter and share their ideas.

“Most Likes” 

Emily Tutor is the 2022 Otay Water District Instagram Photo Contest for "Most Likes," and it's easy to see why. Photo: Otay Water District

Emily Tutor is the 2022 Otay Water District Instagram Photo Contest for “Most Likes,” and it’s easy to see why. Photo Courtesy: Otay Water District

First-place winner is Emily Tutor, @emily_anne04. She wrote, “In 2022 we’re conserving water by fixing our dripping sinks!”

Second-place winner @jwilzen’s photo champions composting to help with conserving water. Photo Courtesy: Otay Water District

Second-place winner Janna Wilzen, @jwilzen, explained, “Indoor and outdoor composting helps with conserving water by improving the soil chemical properties; thereby assisting to increase soil matter. Additionally, collecting runoff water from the rain helps to reduce the amount of polluted waters which can affect all wildlife in all ecosystems. Self-watering planters are also beneficial in conserving water as they have reservoirs that sit at the bottom of the planter which evenly distribute water when it’s needed.”

Winning photos selected by the Otay Water District

Otay Water District personnel chose their winners based on theme, originality, and creativity.

Photographer @rosie_barnett_photography is the 2022 Otay Water District Instagram Photo Content first-place winner. Photo Courtesy: Otay Water District

Photographer Rosie Barnett of @rosie_barnett_photography is the first-place winner. She offered tips for her fellow residents as part of her entry.

“Your garden is an extension of your home and a great place to start when conserving water! Did you know you can have a beautiful garden and still be #waterwise! Here are a few tips:
* Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings
* Water your lawn only when it needs it
* Water during the cool parts of the day
* Plant drought resistant trees and plants
* Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants
* Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and steps
*You could possibly save up to 100 gallons a day!”

Of her win, Barrett commented, “What an honor!”

Heaven Morgan shared her gardening know-how in her winning photo. Photo Courtesy: Otay Water District

Second-place winner in selected by Otay category is Heaven Morgan, @heavenmajesta, who shared her gardening know-how.

“Rehab plants + Water saving tricks = pure joy! 🌱💦✨ A really easy way to save a bit of water around the garden is to keep a dish under potted plants! This allows the runoff to be either used to water other plants or absorbed back into the plant by way of wick watering which means you don’t have to water as often! Another easy way to make use of the run off is to hold potted plants over in ground plants or planters while watering this method allows the extra water to run right off onto the next plant! Happy gardening!”

Winners received either restaurant gift cards or Amazon gift cards.

To learn more about conservation practices, water-use efficiency, and other resources available to Otay customers, go to otaywater.gov/conservation.

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

Otay Water District Invests in Preventive System Maintenance

As part of its preventive maintenance program to safeguard its water supply and reduce water loss, the Otay Water District is conducting leak inspections of its pipeline system. Leak detection and repair programs save water by ensuring water system integrity. The District uses state-of-the-art equipment to inspect its water distribution system for leaks in pipelines, meters, and valves. The equipment is designed to “listen” for leaks and can pinpoint the location of even the smallest water leak. Once identified, crews will schedule the needed repairs.

System Maintenance-Leak Prevention-Otay Water District customers may see workers inspecting the meter in front of their home or business, typically between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some weekend and night work may also be required. Photo: Otay Water District preventative system maintenanceOtay Water District customers may see workers inspecting the meter in front of their home or business, typically between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some weekend and night work may also be required. Photo: Otay Water District preventative system maintenance

Otay Water District Invests in Preventive System Maintenance

As part of its preventive maintenance program to safeguard its water supply and reduce water loss, the Otay Water District is conducting leak inspections of its pipeline system. Leak detection and repair programs save water by ensuring water system integrity. The District uses state-of-the-art equipment to inspect its water distribution system for leaks in pipelines, meters, and valves. The equipment is designed to “listen” for leaks and can pinpoint the location of even the smallest water leak. Once identified, crews will schedule the needed repairs.

Otay’s contractor, Utility Services Associates, will inspect approximately 173 miles of potable water mains in Rancho San Diego, El Cajon, and Jamul, along with potable and recycled water mains in areas of Chula Vista. The work is now underway.

Water leaks often account for a substantial portion of lost revenue in water utility systems. If just small single-digit percentages of water carried by the Otay Water District’s pipelines were lost to leaks, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and waste a precious resource.

System maintenance: Leak inspections underway at homes and businesses

The District’s contractor, Utility Services Associates, will inspect approximately 173 miles of potable water mains in Rancho San Diego, El Cajon, and Jamul, along with potable and recycled water mains in areas of Chula Vista. Photo: Otay Water District

The District’s contractor, Utility Services Associates, will inspect approximately 173 miles of potable water mains in Rancho San Diego, El Cajon, and Jamul, along with potable and recycled water mains in areas of Chula Vista. Photo: Otay Water District

Otay Water District customers may see workers inspecting the meter in front of their home or business, typically between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some weekend and night work may also be required. The duration of the inspection can range from a few minutes to one day.

Workers will be wearing a Utility Services Associates logo and carry company identification. They will not need access to customers’ homes or property but may contact customers if they need to momentarily shut off their water supply for further testing. They will not shut off the water supply without permission from someone at the home or property.

Workers may be lifting water meter covers, inspecting, and attaching equipment to meters or valves. If a leak is suspected, the Otay Water District will contact the customer and advise them of the potential leak.

The inspection has an estimated completion date of Friday, April 29, 2022, subject to weather and other circumstances.

Customers with questions on the Leak Detection Program can contact Otay Water District’s customer service representatives at (619) 670-2222.

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

WaterSmart Landscape Contest-The Nieves family of Bonita won the Sweetwater Authority's 2019 Landscape Makeover Contest for theier creative WaterSmart landscaping design. Photo: Sweetwater Authority 2021 Landscape Makeover

2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest Open For Entries

One dozen San Diego County water agencies are looking for the best in landscaping makeover projects for the 2022 regional WaterSmart landscape competition. This annual competition showcases residential water-saving landscaping projects to inform and inspire other homeowners to consider replacing their turf-based yard designs.

The contest deadline for all participating agencies is Friday, May 13. Homeowners may submit their entry online through their water agency. Entrants must live within a water agency boundary to participate. Each agency winner receives a $250 gift certificate and recognition on the agency website and social media channels.

Participating agencies in 2022 include California American Water, the cities of Escondido and Oceanside, Helix Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon Del Diablo Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, and the Vista Irrigation District.

Turf removal saves an estimated 36 million gallons annually

El Cajon homeowner-Otay Water District-2021 Landscape Makeover Contest

El Cajon homeowner Christine Laframboise’s water saving landscape design trading turf for a less thirsty approach is the Otay Water District’s 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner. Pboto: Otay Water District

Most residential water use in San Diego County is used outdoors, primarily to water landscaping. When yards contain a large amount of turf, it can significantly increase overall water consumption. This is why conservation education efforts focus on replacing turf.

By showcasing how beautiful landscapes without grass can be through the WaterSmart Landscape Contest, homeowners can share their creativity and demonstrate how attractive WaterSmart landscaping can be.

“San Diego County homeowners are moving toward beautiful, sustainable landscapes and away from water-intensive lawns as the default choice,” said Joni German, San Diego County Water Authority water resources specialist. “Through ongoing education and through the examples people see around them, homeowners can see that water-efficient landscapes can be beautiful, lush, colorful, and thrive in our region. This contest is a great way to showcase the efforts homeowners regionwide have made to create these incredible outdoor spaces.”

Additional benefits of watersmart landscaping

Colorful, waterwise plants replaced a thirsty, labor intensive front lawn in Deborah Brant's winning landscape makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Colorful, water-wise plants replaced a thirsty, labor-intensive front lawn in Deborah Brant’s winning landscape makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

  • Creating a garden to live in as well as look at by adding outdoor rooms for your favorite activities.
  • Drought-tolerant plants can be used to define spaces instead of buildings and walls.
  • Cultivating native plants for San Diego County’s Mediterranean climate zones, including ground covers, grasses, succulents, perennials, shrubs, vines, and trees.

Free landscape makeover classes offered by Water Authority

The Brants took advantage of the San Diego County Water Authority's Landscape Makeover classes to help them plan their project. Photo: City of Escondido

The Brants took advantage of the San Diego County Water Authority Landscape Makeover classes to help them plan their project. Photo: City of Escondido

The Water Authority offers free options to help homeowners plan their makeovers. Homeowners can get started with the Water Authority’s free three-hour introductory landscaping workshops scheduled on weeknights and Saturdays. The workshops are held virtually.

The Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover four-class workshop series offers more specific planning for homeowners.  See the course page for the most current schedule and to sign up.

(Editor’s Note: The City of Escondido, the City of Oceanside, Helix Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon Del Diablo Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, and Vista Irrigation District are 11 of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs.

Scholarships-In her job at the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab, Associate Chemist Sarah Shapard performs tests analyzing for ammonia. Photo: City of Escondido Water industry education

College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs. The following examples are due in the coming weeks for study in the 2022-2023 academic school year.

San Diego regional water scholarships

Otay Water District officials presents the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District water industry education

Otay Water District officials present the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District

The Mark Watton Scholarship Fund, established by the Otay Water District at the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, supports students attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. It honors Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton’s four decades of service to the district.

Applicants must be currently enrolled for at least six units at Cuyamaca College, verify financial need, and complete the general application and essay. Scholarships of $1,000 are available. The Otay Water District is continuing to accept donations to the Mark Watton Scholarship Fund.

Students can contact scholarship specialist Ernest Williams at 619-660-4537 or email for more information.

The Helix Water District offers two $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors living within the district’s service area who will begin their university studies next fall. Applications are due March 4 for the Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship and the Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship, which both provide help with freshman year expenses. The scholarship committee reviews each applicant’s grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer and work experience, academic and career goals, and financial needs.

High school seniors must graduate in the Class of 2022 this spring and attend a four-year college or university next fall. Students submit a two-page essay answering the question, “What is potable reuse and East County Advanced Water Purification?”

Deadline: March 4, 2022. Application Link. Students can verify their eligibility at 619-466-0585.

The Vista Irrigation District offers up to six scholarships between $1,000 and $3,000 to high school students living or attending school within the district. The purpose of the scholarship program is to increase knowledge and awareness of water-related issues impacting their community. Students who compete for a scholarship must complete an essay and provide a personal statement. Selection criteria also include community involvement or volunteer service.

Deadline: February 25, 2022. Application Link. Students can call Alisa Nichols at 760-597-3173 with questions or to request application information.

California water industry group scholarships

Vallecitos Water District-water industry careers-veterans-jobs

Vallecitos Water District Senior Pump & Motor Technician Dale Austin encourages military veterans to consider water industry careers. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Canham Graduate Studies scholarship provides $25,000 for a post-baccalaureate student in the water environment field. The scholarship is for education-related expenses such as room and board, tuition and books. The scholarship may not be used to cover stipends or wages.

The applicant must be a WEF member, complete an online application, and be enrolled in a graduate program. Recipients must commit to working in the water industry for two years following graduation.

Deadline: March 1, 2022. Application Link. For questions, email Tori Cox at

The Association of California Water Agencies offers a $3,500 scholarship to qualified applicants attending a University of California or California State University school pursuing an undergraduate degree in a water-resources related field such as engineering, agriculture, environmental studies, or public administration. The applicant must be a junior or senior attending full-time during the 2021-2022 school year.  Criteria include scholastic achievement and motivation to the vocation of water-resources management.

ACWA also offers the new John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship to a currently employed water professional at an ACWA member agency selected to participate in the Water Education Foundation’s annual William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class. The program is named in honor of ACWA’s former executive director for his 22 years of service.

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood family ties

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood

Deadline: March 1, 2022. Application Link. For questions, call 916-441-4545 or email .

The California-Nevada section of the American Water Works Association awards more than $20,000 in scholarships in support of students and professionals pursuing careers in a drinking water-related field. Two $5,000 graduate scholarships, four $2,500 undergraduate scholarships, and two $1,000 scholarships in support of training as a drinking water treatment/distribution operator are available.

Suitable candidates include environmental and civil engineers; water, wastewater and recycling treatment plant operators; distribution system operators; chemists; laboratory technicians; biologists, ecologists and environmental scientists; and others whose roles support safe and reliable drinking water.

Deadline: March 15, 2022. Application Link. For information, call 909-481-7200 or email 

With approximately 1,400 water and wastewater jobs expected to open up across San Diego County in the next five years due to retirements, water industry careers offer promising lifelong professional opportunities. For more information, visit sandiegowaterworks.org.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Vista Irrigation District, City of Escondido, and the Vallecitos Water District, are five of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Otay Water District Instagram Photo Contest Highlights Importance of Water

Put your creative skills to use and help the Otay Water District encourage residents and businesses to save water in 2022. The District has launched a New Year’s-themed Instagram photo contest as one way to help make the community aware of water-saving efforts during the  drought in California.