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The Jamacha Park Homeowners Association in Rancho San Diego is a 2024 MWD One Water Award recipient for its landscape makeover project. Photo: MSE Landscaping

Jamacha Park HOA Wins Award For Landscape Makeover Project

The Jamacha Park Homeowners Association in Rancho San Diego is the region’s latest showcase for low-water landscaping after receiving one of four One Water Awards from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Accessible walkways bring residents closer to nature as part of its new landscaping. Photo: MSE Landscape

Accessible walkways bring residents closer to nature as part of its new landscaping. Photo: MSE Landscape

The awards recognize large-scale improvements to facilities and landscapes that achieve significant water savings. The four projects honored in early May are expected to save 200 million gallons of water annually. Projects are also recognized for technology innovations, environmental stewardship, and their focus on water sustainability.

Jamacha Park is a 64-home community. The HOA worked with MWD, the San Diego County Water Authority, and the County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program to replace 58,000 square feet of grass with sustainable landscaping, including climate-appropriate plants.

(L to R): Debby Dunn, San Diego County Water Authority; Mike Seymour, MSE Landscape; Brian Faris, Monarch Environmental; Scott Norris, County of San Diego; Matt Davenport, Monarch Environmental; Chad Praul, Environmental Incentives; and Tenille Otero, Otay Water District. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California landscape makeover project

(L to R): Debby Dunn, San Diego County Water Authority; Mike Seymour, MSE Landscape; Brian Faris, Monarch Environmental; Scott Norris, County of San Diego; Matt Davenport, Monarch Environmental; Chad Praul, Environmental Incentives; and Tenille Otero, Otay Water District. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

“I hope the project that we have done will show other communities what is possible. There is a way to get water savings and still have a beautiful landscape everyone can enjoy,” said Jamacha Park HOA Board President Mary Kay Sieckman.

The HOA board, community residents, and landscape professionals worked together on the landscape makeover. The newly beautified community spaces are accessible to all residents while reducing water use.

Jamacha Park leaders achieve a long-time goal

Sieckman said the HOA learned about these programs through its property management company. “When the board members heard about it, they jumped at it. They were very excited because it would be a step forward toward a long-time goal we knew needed to be done.”

See a video featuring Jamacha Park HOA Board President Mary Kay Sieckman describing the landscape makeover process.

 

The project has been so successful that the HOA plans to replace additional turf, eventually removing a total 100,000 square feet of grass for a potential water savings of 4 million gallons annually.

The Jamacha Park HOA received funding and assistance through MWD’s Turf Replacement Rebate Program available through the Water Authority and the County’s Landscape Optimization Service. Working with the County’s Watershed Protection Program, residences and businesses in unincorporated areas of San Diego County can be eligible for enhanced water-use efficiency rebates.

The Jamacha Park HOA achieved significant water savings with its landscape makeover project. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California/Screenshot

The Jamacha Park HOA achieved significant water savings with its landscape makeover project. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California/Screenshot

“We have accomplished something with the help of all these agencies. It shows to the community you can save water and still have a beautiful landscape. You don’t have to rely on grass for everything,” Sieckman said.

County Landscape Optimization Service can assist customers with landscape upgrades

The Jamacha Park community's landscaping before its makeover. Photo: MSE Landscape/Screenshot

The Jamacha Park community’s landscaping before its makeover. Photo: MSE Landscape/Screenshot

To make the process of applying for rebates easier and maximize the return on investment, the County added a Landscape Optimization Service (LOS), a unique technical assistance program for large-scale landscaping projects. It is part of the Waterscape Rebate Program, which helps residential, commercial, and agricultural customers in unincorporated areas to make landscape upgrades that improve the region’s climate resilience and reduce the flow of pollutants into waterways.

The project has been so successful that the HOA plans to replace additional turf, eventually removing a total 100,000 square feet of grass for a potential water savings of 4 million gallons annually. Phoro: MSE Landscape

The project has been so successful that the HOA plans to replace additional turf, eventually removing a total 100,000 square feet of grass for a potential water savings of 4 million gallons annually. Phoro: MSE Landscape

County of San Diego Land Use Environmental Planning Manager Scott Norris says the LOS program helps applicants navigate the requirements, overcome any barriers to participation, and maximize their eligibility. “Often HOAs just need a bit of help to get started. We have worked with more than a dozen HOAs and more than half are coming back to complete additional turf removal projects because they see the value for their communities.”

Multiple benefits from sustainable landscapes

Dry riverbeds add interest and help manage stormwater runoff. Photo: MSE Landscape

Dry riverbeds help manage stormwater runoff. Photo: MSE Landscape

Sustainable landscapes produce multiple benefits including reduced water use, enhanced biodiversity, increased stormwater retention, and decreased run-off.

IMPACT:

  • 58,000 square feet of turf removed
  • 270,000-gallon reduction in irrigation runoff annually
  • 12% savings in water use in the first year
  • $232,000 in utility incentives
New landscape features include boulders framing walkways. Photo: MSE Landscape

New landscape features include boulders framing walkways. Photo: MSE Landscape

Water customers in unincorporated San Diego County can determine their eligibility at SanDiegoCounty.gov/WatershedRebates. More information on the Landscape Optimization Service can be found here. The program is currently recruiting new participants.

The Waterscape Rebate Program helps to protect local waterways by reducing pollutants that enter storm drains. When irrigation systems overflow from landscaping, runoff may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system and cause the same negative effects as runoff from rainfall. Reducing turf helps reduce irrigation use and runoff. HOA landscapes are potentially significant contributors.

The County Watershed Protection Program is currently seeking new applicants. Photo: MSE Landscape

The County Watershed Protection Program is currently seeking new applicants. Photo: MSE Landscape

The program includes outreach and education to commercial, industrial, and residential properties in unincorporated areas of the county. In addition, the County is offering rebate programs for upgrades, including rain gardens, gutters, permeable pavement, and regular septic system pumping.

Learn more about the County of San Diego Watershed Protection Program at its website.

 

 

Fix a Leak Week is a reminder every March to check indoor and outdoor plumbing systems for leaks. Graphic: EPA

Fix-A-Leak Week 2024 Brings WaterSense To Work

Water leaks don’t happen just in the home. This year, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Fix-A-Leak Week 2024 program focuses on the importance of repairing leaks and saving water in the workplace and commercial buildings such as hospitals, schools, hotels, retail stores, and community centers.

Fix-A-Leak Week was created in 2009 by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program. It serves as a reminder every March to check indoor and outdoor plumbing systems for leaks.

In 2024, Fix-A-Leak Week takes place March 18 – 24. It is supported by the San Diego County Water Authority and many of its 23 member agencies and by other regional WaterSense partners throughout North America.

Leaks can account for six percent of average water use and be the greatest source of water waste within a facility. Leaks and continuously running water may not always be visible, but they can add up quickly and become a major cost in water and energy bills.

Be alert for leaks at work. Here are some ways to help find and fix leaks in your workplace:

Water leaks in the workplace can add up quickly and become a major cost in water and energy bills. Photo: Pixabay/CC fix-a-leak week 2024

Workplace water leaks can add up quickly and become a significant cost in water and energy bills. Photo: Pixabay/CC

  • If you see a leak in the restroom, kitchen, or outdoors, report it to your maintenance staff.
  • During Fix-A-Leak Week, challenge employees and tenants to find leaks and report water waste.
  • Post signs in restrooms, kitchens, and other high-water-use areas to encourage everyone to look for leaks and report problems. Include information on who to contact.
  • Listen and look for unexpected indoor and outdoor water use, such as running water, unanticipated discharge to floor drains, or wet spots and puddling water on floors or grounds.
  • Don’t wait for a high water bill to find the problem. Read water meters during off-peak hours, when water use is lower. If the meter continues to show high use, there may be a leak. Submeters and temporary flow meters can also monitor specific areas or pieces of equipment to detect problems quickly.

Water leaks add up fast, so water use needs to be periodically verified to make sure the fixture is still performing correctly. Get a handle on your facility’s water use to identify and fix leaks before they become a big problem and expense.

The EPA offers a helpful checklist to ensure you identify and find any possible sources of leaks.

Regional water agencies help customers save water, save money

The Vallecitos Water District added a new video for 2024 to its award-winning series, helping customers find and fix leaks to save water and money.

In an effort to help customers save water and money, Sweetwater Authority (Authority) is offering a rebate of up to $100 for customers who find and fix leaks at their homes or businesses. Though available year-round, the Authority is highlighting this special offer in celebration of the national Fix-A-Leak Week.

In addition to its special rebate on leak repairs, the Authority offers customers a $75 rebate to replace or install a new pressure-reducing valve at homes. These valves help to address high pressure that can cause increased wear on fittings, making them more prone to leaks. A rebate of up to $100 is also available for qualifying leak detectors and flow monitors, which can alert customers to potential leaks on a smartphone app. Information on all the Sweetwater Authority’s water-efficiency rebates is at www.sweetwater.org/rebates.

The Otay Water District also offers helpful tips to fix leaks and save water on its website and its social media, including a new video.

  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes, you may have a leak. Visit otaywater.gov/how-to-read-your-meter to learn how to track your water use.
  • Place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes without flushing. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak.
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.

Check WaterSmartSD.org for tips and more information about Fix-A-Leak Week.

As soon as 2026, the East County Advanced Water Program will deliver water to the faucets of customers. Photo: East County AWP milestone

East County Advanced Water Program Hits Multiple Milestones  

Work on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program facilities and pipelines reached multiple milestones at the start of 2024, and construction continues on schedule at multiple East County locations through 2025. As soon as 2026, the AWP will deliver water to the faucets of customers in the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, Lakeside Water District service areas, and the northern portion of the Otay Water District service area.

At the main construction site north of Santee Lakes, more than 60% of the concrete has been poured for the water recycling, solids handling, and advanced water purification facilities. Nearly 60% of the 2.3 total miles of open-cut construction on wastewater pipelines that make up the AWP Program are complete.

More than 60% of the concrete has been poured for the East County Advanced Water Program water recycling, solids handling and advanced water purification facilities. Photo: East County AWP

More than 60% of the concrete has been poured for the East County Advanced Water Program water recycling, solids handling and advanced water purification facilities. Photo: East County AWP

Construction also continues on Fanita Parkway, north of Ganley Road in Santee, and within Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve. Pipeline water testing is now underway on that installed pipeline.

Work on the pipelines for the East County Advanced Water Program is affecting access to the Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve, which remains open. Photo: East County AWP

Work on the pipelines for the East County Advanced Water Program is affecting access to the Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve, which remains open. Photo: East County AWP

In addition, pipeline work at Santee Lakes is occurring between Lakes 3 and 4. There is a road closure and no parking in some areas. The Kiwanis Playground at Lake 4 remains open and parking has been preserved for playground visitors.

“Roughly a year and a half ago, we started with a blank slate and since then, the Joint Powers Authority and its project partners have made significant achievements at each of the construction sites,” said Mark Niemiec, director of the East County AWP. “It’s during these ongoing activities within the community including at Santee Lakes that we really appreciate our neighbors’ patience and understanding.”

Pipeline undergrounding scheduled this spring

These new pipelines servicing the East County Advanced Water Program will soon be moved underground. Photo: East County AWP

These new pipelines servicing the East County Advanced Water Program will soon be moved underground. Photo: East County AWP

The wastewater pipelines that will run from the East Mission Gorge Pump Station near State Route 52 to the first lake at Santee Lakes will soon be pulled underground. This trenchless construction method called “Horizontal Directional Drilling” minimizes the impacts to nearby waterways, including the San Diego River. The process takes an estimated 24 to 36 straight hours.

Elsewhere, Fanita Parkway will be temporarily closed for up to one week in March between Ganley Road and Lake Canyon Road to allow for paving on both sides of the street. Residents will see detour signs prior to the closure. The road closure will occur during the day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Purified water pipeline construction is continuing west on Mast Boulevard in Santee, as well as west on Mapleview Street in Lakeside and from Laurel Canyon Road to El Monte Road. Lane closures can be expected.

Residents and commuters in Santee and Lakeside can monitor road closures on the East County AWP website. Photo: East County AWP

Residents and commuters in Santee and Lakeside can monitor road closures on the East County AWP website. Photo: East County AWP

Construction on the 23,000-square-foot Visitors Center is in progress and will be completed by the end of 2025. It will house administrative offices, the operation control center, a testing laboratory, and a community room. The steel beam installation, including 66 columns and 100 beams, will use 350,000 pounds of U.S. steel.

The Flume Trail at Lake Jennings is officially back open following a 10-month closure for purified pipeline construction. The trail will close again during the summer for a couple of months to allow for additional pipeline construction near the shoreline.

The Flume Trail at Lake Jennings is officially back open following a 10-month closure. It will close again for additional construction later this summer. Photo: East County AWP

The Flume Trail at Lake Jennings is officially back open following a 10-month closure. It will close again for additional construction later this summer. Photo: East County AWP

When complete, the East County AWP Program will be able to create up to 11.5 million gallons of purified water per day, which is enough to serve an estimated 400,000 people, or roughly 30% of East San Diego County’s water supply.

The East County AWP Program includes construction of the following:

When operational, the East County AWP will be able to create up to 11.5 million gallons of purified water per day which is enough to serve roughly 30% of East San Diego County’s water supply. Photo: East County AWP

When operational, the East County AWP will be able to create up to 11.5 million gallons of purified water per day which is enough to serve roughly 30% of East San Diego County’s water supply. Photo: East County AWP

  • Water recycling facility treating 16 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater.
  • Advanced water purification facility treating and purifying 11.5 MGD.
  • Purified water pipeline transporting purified water 10 miles to Lake Jennings.
  • Wastewater and residual pipelines. Each segment is three miles long.
  • East Mission Gorge Pump Station (retrofitted) and City of San Diego partnership of regional brine and wastewater pipelines traveling from the pump station in Santee to the City of San Diego’s sewer line in Mission Valley.
  • Energy recovery system creating three megawatts of renewable energy.

To stay up-to-date with project schedules, community impacts and work descriptions, check the East County Advanced Water Purification Program’s interactive map on  www.eastcountyawp.com or visit @eastcountyawp on social media

Board members Mark Gracyk and Joel Scalzitti, Board Vice President Don McMillan, Lily Martinez, and Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg. Scholarship programs throughout San Diego County and California for 2024 are now open. Photo: Helix Water District 2024 scholarhip applications

2024 Scholarship Applications Open for Aspiring Water Professionals 

Water agencies across San Diego County and California water associations offer multiple college scholarship opportunities in 2024 to help candidates secure their education as water and wastewater professionals.

The acceleration of industry retirements, as well as the increasing need for a skilled workforce trained to implement new technologies, result in an increased effort to develop more skilled individuals for water and wastewater industry jobs, including in San Diego County. For more information, visit sandiegowaterworks.org.

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 2023-2024 academic school year.

San Diego regional water scholarships

 Helix Water District will recognize two outstanding graduating high school seniors living within the district’s service area with $1,000 scholarships for university studies next fall.

The Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship and $1,000 Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship honor two past leaders of Helix Water District. Friedgen retired in 1998 after 19 years as the district’s general manager and Childs retired in 1999 after 20 years on the board of directors.

Applicants must graduate in spring 2024 and attend a four-year college or university starting in fall 2024. Students submit a two-page essay exploring potable reuse and the East County Advanced Water Purification project. The scholarship committee reviews each applicant’s grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer and work experience, academic and career goals, and financial need.

Deadline: 5 p.m. on March 15, 2024. Learn more about eligibility and find the online application here.

Vista Irrigation District scholarship winners (left to right): Monica Lozada, Naia Riggenbach, Sarai Rojas, Samantha Harris, Colin Gastauer. (Not pictured: Riley Robbins) Photo: Vista Irrigation District. 2024 scholarship

Vista Irrigation District scholarship winners for 2023 (left to right): Monica Lozada, Naia Riggenbach, Sarai Rojas, Samantha Harris, Colin Gastauer. (Not pictured: Riley Robbins). 2024 scholarship applications are now open. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Vista Irrigation District invites local high school seniors to compete for up to six scholarships from the District in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. The purpose of the scholarship program is to increase knowledge and awareness of how water-related issues influence our daily activities.

Students who compete for a scholarship must complete an essay and provide a one-page personal statement related to their background and/or goals. Selection criteria also include community involvement or volunteer service, and letters of recommendation from high school faculty.

Applications must be received via email or at the district’s office by 4 p.m. on Friday February 23, 2024. Eligible students must live or go to school within the Vista Irrigation District service area. Find the application link here.

Contact Brent Reyes at (760) 597-3107 ">or email Reyes with questions or to request application information.

Scholarships were issued to local students by the Vallecitos Water District to help them continue their higher education. (L to R): Board Vice President Tiffany Boyd-Hodgson, scholarship winners Phlavia Oyrem, Caitlyn Hansen, and Julianna Stipica-Kelecic, Board President Jim Hernandez, scholarship winners Daniel Baza, Evan Fox, and Board Member Erik A. Groset. Not pictured: Board Members Craig Elitharp and Jim Pennock, scholarship winner Brook Sannella. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Scholarships were issued to local students by the Vallecitos Water District in 2023 to help them continue their higher education. (L to R): Board Vice President Tiffany Boyd-Hodgson, scholarship winners Phlavia Oyrem, Caitlyn Hansen, and Julianna Stipica-Kelecic, Board President Jim Hernandez, scholarship winners Daniel Baza, Evan Fox, and Board Member Erik A. Groset. Not pictured: Board Members Craig Elitharp and Jim Pennock, scholarship winner Brook Sannella. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District invites local high school seniors and students at Palomar College and California State University San Marcos to compete for scholarships from the district. Up to six scholarships may be awarded in amounts up to $1,000 per scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship program is to encourage students to learn more about water-related issues impacting their community.

Eligible students must live or go to school within the Vallecitos Water District’s service area. Students must complete an essay and provide a personal statement related to their background and/or goals. Selection criteria also include community involvement or volunteer service, a financial needs worksheet, and letters of recommendation from faculty or an associate.

">Email Chris Robbins for application materials. Applications for the 2024 scholarship must be emailed or delivered to the District office by the deadline*.  Note: The 2024 scholarship deadline has not yet been announced.

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board awarded the 2022 Work for Water Scholarship to two local students: David Inchaurregui Jr. of Chula Vista and Kassandra Beltran of National City. Photos: Sweetwater Authority 2024 scholarship applications

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board awarded the Work for Water Scholarship to two local students: David Inchaurregui Jr. of Chula Vista and Kassandra Beltran of National City. Photos: Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority’s “Work for Water” scholarships are now open for applications.

Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to new or currently enrolled students at the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College or another accredited college, community college, or trade school with a career goal in the water industry.

The application deadline has not been determined. For questions regarding the scholarship, application, or uploading documentation, email or call Alessandra Angelone, Senior Public Affairs Representative, at (619) 409-6721.

The Mark Watton Scholarship Fund through the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges supports students attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. It honors former 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. Application dates are March 25 to May 4, 2024.

Students should ">contact scholarship specialist Shirley Hughes with questions.

In addition, National University partners with the San Diego County Water Authority to offer a 25% tuition reduction scholarship to employees and employees of all member water agencies. The San Diego County Water Authority Tuition Reduction Scholarship benefits working adults who want to reach specific educational goals but find it challenging to fit classes into their busy life. The tuition-reduction scholarship can be applied to most associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. Click for more information.

Professional association scholarships

Statewide scholarships are available through several organizations. 2024 scholarship applications

Statewide scholarships are available through several organizations.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) offers four undergraduate 2024 scholarships, one graduation 2024 scholarship and a fellowship opportunity to qualified applicants attending a University of California or California State University campus. Students must be juniors or seniors pursuing an undergraduate degree in a water-resources related field such as engineering, agriculture, environmental studies, or public administration. Criteria include scholastic achievement and motivation to the vocation of water-resources management.

ACWA began its scholarship programs in 1961 to motivate committed students to join the effort to ensure California’s water quality through sound management policies. The scholarship program is all about investing in future water leaders.

Deadline: March 1, 2024. Application Link. Questions? Call 916-441-4545 or email .

The California-Nevada section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) 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.

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 are all suitable 2024 scholarship candidates.

Deadline: March 15, 2024. Application Link. For information, call 909-481-7200 or email 

The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Canham Graduate Studies 2024 scholarship provides $25,000 for a graduate 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 31, 2024. Apply online here. For questions, email

 

OWD Elects New Board President

At its January meeting, the Otay Water District board of directors elected new officers to lead the District’s board for 2024. The board elected director Jose Lopez, who represents division four, as president.

Jose Lopez (L) has been appointed president of the Otay Water District for 2024; Paulina Martinez-Perez (R) has been appointed board president of Sweetwater Authority for 2024. Photos: Otay Water District and Sweetwater Authority

New Leadership at South Bay Water Agencies in 2024

The Otay Water District and the Sweetwater Authority start 2024 with new officers to lead their respective boards of directors.

Lopez elected President of Otay Water District Board

(L to R) Board President Jose Lopez, Vice President Ryan Keyes, Treasuer Mark Robak. Photo: Otay Water District new leadership

(L to R) Board President Jose Lopez, Vice President Ryan Keyes, Treasuer Mark Robak. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District board elected director Jose Lopez, who represents division four, as president.

Lopez’s election as president follows one year of board leadership under past president Mark Robak. Lopez will serve a one-year term through January 2025. He has been a board member since December 2020. He also served on the Otay WD board from 2001 to 2016.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust that my fellow water board members place in me by electing me as president. Serving our customers in this role is a responsibility I take seriously,” says Lopez.

“As we embark on this journey together, my focus will be on fostering collaboration, transparency, and sustainable water management practices. Our community’s access to high-quality and reliable water is of utmost importance, and I am committed to working diligently to ensure the continued well-being of our residents. I look forward to building upon the solid foundation laid by my predecessors and collaborating with our dedicated board and staff to address the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

Lopez experience in multiple assignments

In 2023, Lopez served as vice president of the board. He also served on the district’s engineering, operations, water resources, desalination project, and ad hoc legal services committees. He also represents the district at various local organizations and task forces including the OWD and Sweetwater Authority Task Force to develop recycled water opportunities, Water Conservation Garden Authority, and South County Economic Development Council.

Lopez also previously held the position of treasurer in 2004, 2021, and 2022. Also, during his tenure on the Otay board from 2001 to 2016, he served as president of the board in 2002, 2005, and 2012 to 2015. He also served as vice president from 2006 to 2010, and 2016.

Lopez retired as an Assistant Fire Marshal from the San Diego Fire Department in 2011. He also served on the San Diego County Water Authority board from 2002 to 2003. He has an Associate of Science in Fire Science/Fire Suppression from San Diego Miramar College and attended the University of California, San Diego. He lives in Chula Vista.

The board also elected board member Ryan Keyes, serving division two, as vice president, and Mark Robak, serving division five, as treasurer.

The five-member board of directors is the governing body of the Otay Water District and is responsible for setting rates for service, taxes, policies, ordinances, adopting the annual budget and other matters related to the management and operation of the agency.

Martinez-Perez Elected Board Chair of Sweetwater Authority Board

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board elected Paulina Martinez-Perez as Board Chair and Director Hector Martinez as Vice Chair for the 2024 term. Photo: Sweetwater Authority new leadership

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board elected Paulina Martinez-Perez as Board Chair and Director Hector Martinez as Vice Chair for the 2024 term. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board elected Paulina Martinez-Perez as Board Chair and Director Hector Martinez as Vice Chair for the 2024 term. Martinez-Perez has served on the Board since 2020 and Martinez has served since 2018.

Martinez-Perez and Martinez will engage in an all-day Strategic Plan Workshop along with the entire Authority Board and department heads to evaluate the progress of the Fiscal Year 2023-24 Work Plan initiatives, and set goals and priorities for the next fiscal year.

“We have a busy year ahead working to advance the policies, plans and programs that make the Authority a premier water agency,” said Martinez-Perez. “I’m honored to serve as Chair during this exciting time, and to work together with the Board to ensure we maintain a safe and reliable water supply for our current and future customers.”

The Sweetwater Authority Board also adopted Resolution 23-23, adjusting the Authority Board Meeting times to 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board is composed of five directors elected by division by the citizens of the district, and two directors appointed by the Mayor of National City, subject to City Council confirmation.

At its December 2023 meeting, the South Bay Irrigation District Board of Directors also appointed new officers for the 2024 term. Director Manny Delgado will serve as President and Director Josie Calderon-Scott as Vice President. SBID meetings will now be held at 5 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month.

 

 

Six San DIego County students will have their artwork featured in the annual "Water Is Life" calendar for 2024.

San Diego County Student Artwork Featured in 2024 Calendar

Six San Diego County student artists from four member water agencies are among the 37 Southern California students whose artwork will appear in the 2024 “Being Water Wise Is… ” Student Art Calendar.

The “Being Water Wise Is… ” Student Art Calendar is produced annually by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. It showcases student artwork illustrating important water conservation messages in a visual way. Water agencies submit artwork for consideration among the winners of their local competitions. This year, 26 Southern California water agencies submitted 234 entries.

The inspiring artwork and artists were recognized during a virtual awards event on Thursday, December 14. MWD Board Chairman Adán Ortega, Jr. thanked the students, their family and friends, and the many educators who support the annual contest.

Ortega Jr. told the winning students, “You are truly extraordinary and helping us to see water in new ways and bringing us greater appreciation for its value to our daily lives, and to our society overall.

“Thousands of people will see the calendar that will be published, celebrating winning entries, and learn from it as well.”

South Bay Represented by Otay and Sweetwater Winners

Student artwork from winners in the Otay Water District and Sweetwater Authority are featured on the August 2024 page.

Student artwork from winners in the Otay Water District and Sweetwater Authority are featured on the August 2024 page.

Artwork created by Sophia Garvida, a seventh-grade Bonita Vista Middle School student, was selected for the calendar. Sophia represents the Otay Water District and won first place in the middle school category in the district’s service area competition.

Fifth grader Sofia Cardenas Loera, who attends the STEAM Academy in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, will also have her winning artwork in the calendar after winning the local competition.

“These two talented students used their artistic skills to share an important conservation message and illustrate the value of using water wisely. All of us at the Otay Water District are proud to have their creativity represent the district,” said Eileen Salmeron, communications assistant and poster contest coordinator.

Alondra Contreras Olvera, a third-grade student at Allen Elementary School, represents Sweetwater Authority in the calendar. The three South Bay student posters are on the August 2024 page.

East County Winners From Helix and Padre Dam

Catalina Jones is a second time winner.

Catalina Jones is a second-time winner.

Catalina Raquel Jones, is a talented seventh grade student at La Mesa Arts Academy whose artwork represents the Helix Water District in the 2024 calendar. Catalina is a second-time winner. Her artwork was also selected last year when she was a sixth-grade student at Lemon Avenue Elementary School.

Cameron Kovar is the second winner from the Helix Water District. student artwork

Cameron Kovar is the second winner from the Helix Water District.

Cameryn Kovar, who attends St. Martin of Tours Academy-La Mesa and is also in seventh grade, is the second Helix Water District student whose artwork will appear in the calendar. The Helix winners are on the July 2024 page.

Hayley Novotny's winning student artwork represents the Padre Dam Municipal Water District in the 2024 calendar.

Hayley Novotny’s winning student artwork represents the Padre Dam Municipal Water District in the 2024 calendar.

Hayley Novotny, a fifth-grade student at Cajon Park School in Santee, represents the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Her artwork is on the December 2024 page of the calendar.

Conservation message delivered through artistic expression

The “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar was created 35 years ago. It selects student art submitted from kindergarten through grade 12 to help convey water conservation messages. The annual calendar is distributed to 13,000 recipients each year.

Artwork from the student winners will remain on display at Metropolitan’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters in January. The traveling artwork will visit member agencies throughout the year. View the entire calendar here.

 

 

Water Conservation Garden to Run Out of Money Soon; Executive Director Resigns Amid Financial Turmoil

The Water Conservation Garden will run out of money as early as mid-December, the nonprofit organization Friends of The Water Conservation Garden stated at an October 24 meeting of the Water Conservation Garden Joint Powers Authority,  the consortium of public utility and governmental entities that oversees the Friends.

(L to R) City of Escondido Environmental Programs team members Janin Rodarte, Emily Mixer, and Marielle Decker share the holiday spirit. Photo: City of Escondido holiday giving

Member Agencies Support Holiday Giving Programs

San Diego region’s water and wastewater agency employees pitched in to carry on a tradition of holiday giving in 2023 to benefit a wide array of nonprofit community services.

Helix and Otay Water District Employees Feed A Need

The Helix Water District's Peanut Butter Drive supports the San Diego Food Bank this holiday season. Photo: Helix Water District holiday giving

The Helix Water District’s Peanut Butter Drive supports the San Diego Food Bank this holiday season. Photo: Helix Water District

The Helix Water District employee volunteer program kicked off the giving season in October with a peanut butter drive for the San Diego Food Bank. Public Affairs Supervisor Addie Woodard explains that peanut butter is a nutrient-rich superfood popular with kids and is also shelf-stable. One jar can provide more than 12 sandwiches. But it’s expensive for the Food Bank to purchase, making it a valuable donation item.

Generous Helix employees contributed more than 100 pounds of peanut butter. Woodward offered a lighthearted “That’s nuts!” at the effort’s inaugural success.

Otay Water District employees offered generous support to the San Diego Food Bank. Photo: San Diego Food Bank

Otay Water District employees offered generous support to the San Diego Food Bank. Photo: San Diego Food Bank

Otay Water District employees also support the San Diego Food Bank by making giving simple through their virtual holiday food drive. The District encouraged its more than 240,000 customers, employees, and anyone in a position to join the fight against hunger by donating safely online at their convenience.

Through the Virtual Food Drive, donors select and purchase food items, such as canned meats, vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, oatmeal, and cereal. Monetary donations are also accepted. For every $1 donation, the San Diego Food Bank can provide two meals to families in need.

Helping Hand For Kids From Sweetwater Authority

Sweetwater Authority employees support the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program every holiday season. Photo: Sweetwater Authority holiday giving

Sweetwater Authority employees support the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program every holiday season. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

For more than two decades, Sweetwater Authority employees have been active participants in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. Employees take a tag that contains information about their recipient (age, gender, and toy request). The employee shops for the item and brings them back unwrapped to the office. The Salvation Army picks up and delivers the donated toys. This year, employees donated enough toys to help make Christmas bright for 20 South County families and kids.

“Sweetwater Authority employees care about the community we serve,” said General Manager Carlos Quintero. “We’re happy to spread some holiday cheer through our participation in the Angel Tree Program.”

Generous Escondido Employees Brighten the Holidays

(L to R) City of Escondido Environmental Programs team members Marielle Decker, Emily Mixer, and Janin Rodarte share the holiday spirit. Photo: City of Escondido holiday giving

(L to R) City of Escondido Environmental Programs team members Emily Mixer, Marielle Decker, and Janin Rodarte share the holiday spirit. Photo: City of Escondido

City of Escondido employees participated in a Holiday Stockings and Senior Pantry drive. Employees put together holiday stockings filled with personal care items, snacks, and fun surprises for the Escondido Senior Center. Food donations support a holiday pantry for seniors, who can choose items to stretch their food budget. City staff collectively put together a total of 134 stockings and contributed over 800 food items.

Olivenhain MWD Spreads The Joy

Gifts contributed by Olivenhain Municipal Water District employees benefited the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) employees have three ongoing holiday giving traditions to help deserving recipients.

Early in the holidays, donations were collected and dropped off at the San Diego Humane Society to support its efforts to rescue and re-home pets in need.

The District participates each year in the Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family program. In 2023, employees gathered donations for a single mom and her six children, two seniors, and two veterans.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District General Manager Kim Thorner and Education and Conservation Coordinator Teresa Chase with some of the 255 nut baskets sold, with $5,610 going to Water for People. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District General Manager Kim Thorner and Education and Conservation Coordinator Teresa Chase with some of the 255 nut baskets sold, with $5,610 going to Water for People. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

For 18 years, OMWD employees have enthusiastically supported fundraising for the nonprofit Water for People. It works with communities across the globe to install safe water and sanitation systems, educating local people on good health practices and saving thousands of lives.

During the holiday season, the San Diego chapter holds a competition to sell the most gift baskets donated by Wonderful Pistachios. Employees help assemble the baskets for sale. OMWD was the top donor again in 2023, with 255 baskets sold for a donation total of $5,610 going to Water for People.

 

 

 

 

Bureau of Reclamation Group Visits South Bay Water Agencies

A planning and training workshop for 100 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation employees in San Diego County included tours of Sweetwater Authority and Otay Water District facilities. The Reclamation employees visited San Diego in September to participate in a planning training workshop.