Posts

Water Recycling Project to Expand San Diego Region’s Local Supply

A water recycling project that will purify treated wastewater into drinking water for East San Diego County is moving toward its completion date after the Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized the signing of water purchase agreements.

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is a collaborative, regional effort to diversify the district’s water portfolio and provide a drought-proof supply. The  water reuse project will further enhance reliability by purifying treated wastewater using Lake Jennings and other facilities.

The Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized its General Manager to sign water purchase agreements for the East County Advanced Water Purification Project at a special meeting on May 27.

Helix Water District's R.M Levy Water Treatment Plant

Water Recycling Project to Expand San Diego Region’s Local Supply

A water recycling project that will purify treated wastewater into drinking water for East San Diego County is moving toward its completion date after the Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized the signing of water purchase agreements.

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is a collaborative, regional effort to diversify the district’s water portfolio and provide a drought-proof supply. The  water reuse project will further enhance reliability by purifying treated wastewater using Lake Jennings and other facilities.

The Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized its General Manager to sign water purchase agreements for the East County Advanced Water Purification Project at a special meeting on May 27.

Water recycling project ‘investment in water supply reliability’

The $681 million project, led by the East County AWP Joint Powers Authority, will recycle daily wastewater flows from Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Winter Gardens and Alpine. Treated water will undergo membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation to produce water that is near-distilled in quality.

The purified water will be piped into Helix’s Lake Jennings before undergoing additional processing at the district’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed as safe, clean drinking water.

“I’m looking forward to the development of this project and I believe it’s an investment that strengthens our district’s water supply reliability and security,” said Helix Water District Board President Mark Gracyk. “This is a great example of what can be accomplished by working with our neighboring agencies.”

Water reuse will reduce dependence on imported water

East County AWP project water will reduce east San Diego County’s dependence on imported water by almost 30% once full operations begin in 2026. The project will create a local supply for the East County at about the same cost as what Helix pays now for imported water, according to the Helix Water District.

San Diego County water agencies, including Helix, Padre Dam, and the cities of San Diego and Oceanside, are developing or expanding water recycling projects. Diversifying local supply sources remains a priority for the San Diego County Water Authority. Imported sources, including water from the Colorado River and State Water Project, can be cutback during times of drought.

“The project was conceived by JPA members as a way to reduce rising wastewater costs for their customers,” said Helix Water District General Manager Carlos Lugo. “For Helix to participate, the project had to make financial sense for our ratepayers as well. By expanding our local supply, the East County AWP project water will help ensure that we are better able to navigate future droughts.”

The 30-year purchase agreements establish the cost and quantity of water that Helix will purchase from the East County AWP JPA under the proposed project.

Agency collaboration on sustainability

East County Advanced Water Purification Project-Visitor Center rendering-June 2020-Helix

An artist’s rendering of the new East County Advanced Water Purification Facility. The water recycling project is a partnership between Padre Dam MWD, Helix Water District, San Diego County and the City of El Cajon Graphic: Courtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Helix and the JPA members – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, San Diego County Sanitation District and the City of El Cajon – have been working together to evaluate the ECAWP plan since 2014. Each JPA member has until 2021 to make a final decision on the feasibility of the project and participation.

Helix has invested $850,000 and significant board and staff resources to study the feasibility of the project, including a tracer study with Scripps Institution of Oceanography to learn how water moves and mixes in Lake Jennings.

“We are committed to exploring sustainable projects that benefit our customers,” said Gracyk. “The ECAWP project will be a great complement to our other ongoing investments in regional water supply projects, such as the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, to ensure we have enough water to meet demand.”

Santee Lakes Supports City of Santee in COVID-19 Community Efforts

Santee, CA – Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve and Padre Dam Municipal Water District applaud the City of Santee’s “Support Our Santee” efforts to help the Santee residents and business community through the economic challenges due to the COVID-19 health emergency. The City’s plan allows for Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) deferral from the City’s hotels, which would include Santee Lakes. Santee Lakes and Padre Dam have made the decision to partner with the City in COVID-19 recovery efforts and will not defer TOT that is paid to the City.

East County Advanced Water Purification Program Moves Forward

The East County Advanced Water Purification Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved water and wastewater service agreements this week, moving this significant drinking water project one-step closer to reality. These water and wastewater agreements are critical to the JPA’s eligibility for key program financing opportunities.

Water purchase agreements were approved between the East County AWP JPA and Padre Dam Municipal Water District and between the East County AWP JPA and Helix Water District. The water purchase agreements cover the terms and conditions for water delivery volumes and water pricing for the purchase of purified water by Helix as well as Padre Dam’s purchase of purified water and Title 22 recycled water. The water service agreement was previously approved unanimously by Padre Dam’s Board of Directors on May 20, 2020. It is anticipated that Helix Water District will consider approval of the agreement at a Special Board meeting scheduled on May 27, 2020.

East County Advanced Water Purification Joint Powers Authority JPA Logo

East County Advanced Water Purification Program Moves Forward

May 22, 2020, Santee, CA – The East County Advanced Water Purification (AWP) Joint Powers Authority (JPA) Board of Directors unanimously approved water and wastewater service agreements this week, moving this significant drinking water project one-step closer to reality. These water and wastewater agreements are critical to the JPA’s eligibility for key Program financing opportunities.

Water Pros Working Round the Clock To Ensure Service

More than a month into the coronavirus crisis in California, water pros continue to work around the clock to deliver essential services to San Diego County residents.

From the Fallbrook Public Utilities District south to the Sweetwater Authority and east to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, essential employees at the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies continue to maintain vital water systems and perform emergency repairs so customers have the water they depend on during this time.

"The desire to produce quality work and to know that customers can depend on us is what motivates me," said Sweetwater Authority Field Crew Supervisor Javier Natividad. Photo: Water Authority water pros working

Water Pros Working Round the Clock To Ensure Service

More than a month into the coronavirus crisis in California, water pros continue to work around the clock to deliver essential services to San Diego County residents.

From the Fallbrook Public Utilities District south to the Sweetwater Authority and east to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, essential employees at the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies continue to maintain vital water systems and perform emergency repairs so customers have the water they depend on during this time.

(L to R): Fallbrook PUD Utility Technician Toby Stoneburner, Collections Supervisor Kyle Drake, and Utility Worker II Matt Perez remain at work maintaining vital water systems. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

(L to R): Fallbrook PUD Utility Technician Toby Stoneburner, Collections Supervisor Kyle Drake, and Utility Worker II Matt Perez remain at work maintaining vital water systems. Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

“At a time when workforces are being challenged and stretched, the Fallbrook Public Utility District is fully operational,” said Jack Bebee, Fallbrook PUD general manager. “During this outbreak, many employees are working remotely answering phones and questions. Other essential employees are in the field as necessary, practicing social distancing and wearing masks. They are responding to leaks and other critical operations.”

Water and wastewater industry employees are among the essential critical infrastructure workers exempt from the California’s stay home order that directs all state residents to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are running at full capacity,” said Beebe. “Calls are being answered, invoices are getting processed, our systems are being monitored remotely, and we are moving forward with essential construction projects.”

‘Rewarding knowing I can help people’

Sweetwater Authority Customer Service Representative Vanessa Olivares continues to answer calls and assist with inquiries. Photo: Water Authority water pros working

Sweetwater Authority Customer Service Representative Vanessa Olivares continues to answer calls and assist with inquiries. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

At the Sweetwater Authority, members of the Customer Service team continue to provide high-quality customer service.

“The most rewarding aspect of my work is knowing I can help people with their water needs,” said Vanessa Olivares, Sweetwater customer service representative. “It’s rewarding being able to provide great customer service by solving problems and offering solutions for customers.”

“Knowing the public depends on me to do my job is a great motivator,” said Valetin Martinez, Sweetwater instrument and control technician.

Melissa Marquez continues her work for Padre Dam Municipal Water District during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Padre Dam MUD

Melissa Marquez continues her vital work for Padre Dam Municipal Water District during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Utility District

“Padre Dam staff continue to work daily to provide water and wastewater services to our customers,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam CEO/general manager. “During this time of uncertainty, our customers can be sure that crews continue to operate systems, lab analysts monitor water quality daily, customer service representatives are available to assist customers, and staff continue to perform all essential functions as public servants in our community.”

Cliff Wright is one of many dedicated Padre Dam MWD employees continuing to work in the field serving East County residents. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

Cliff Wright is one of many dedicated Padre Dam MWD employees continuing to work in the field serving East County residents. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

As essential workers, water and wastewater system employees will continue to work to ensure safe and reliable water services. In some instances, routine maintenance projects that would require temporary water shutoffs are being delayed to ensure customers continue critically important hygiene habits such as washing their hands.

If you see water agency employees in your neighborhood feel free to wave and say thank you, but please remember to practice physical distancing.

Along with the rest of California's lakes and reservoirs, Lake Jennings is currently closed to fishing. Photo: Lake Jennings

Reservoirs, Lakes Remain Closed to Fishing Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Although San Diego County’s lakes and reservoirs remain closed to fishing and other recreational activities for safety reasons due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff and volunteers continue to work. Crews are maintaining facilities, providing security, and sharing photos of wildlife and native blooms enjoying the arrival of spring.

Popular overnight campsites remain open at Santee Lakes, operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

Popular overnight campsites remain open at Santee Lakes, operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Popular overnight campsites remain open at Santee Lakes, owned and operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District.

“Camper well-being is important to us and Santee Lakes didn’t want to displace people,” said Melissa McChesney, Padre Dam communications manager. She said that includes long-term campers who spent winter at the lake.

“It is important to note that Santee Lakes is not promoting recreation at this time, and the day use section of the park is closed,” said McChesney. “The park is able to provide a safe alternative to any RVers currently on the road in California because we have full electric, water, sewer and WiFi at each site. Santee Lakes is currently only taking reservations for self-contained RVs.”

Campers can reserve space for a maximum of six months. McChesney said campers should still shelter in place and practice physical distancing at the 300 campsites and 10 cabins.

At Santee Lakes, campers can also enjoy spring birdwatching. Two hundred and thirty different bird species have been spotted at the lake.

Nature takes flight at Lake Jennings

Two of the three resident bald eagles at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings

At Lake Jennings, Recreation Manager Kira Haley says eight volunteers continue to live and work from their campground homes in recreational vehicles and campers. She said their days remain “pretty typical” even though they see more wildlife and not people.

“Our volunteers handle emerging maintenance, take calls from the public, and provide security,” said Haley. “They’re happy to be there, not having interaction with people during this time.”

Although new camping reservations are closed, Haley said campers currently at the Lake Jennings campgrounds were allowed to finish their stay. She said only one person, from out of state, will be the only camper at the entire park through the end of April.

A wood duck and her ducklings swimming across Santee Lakes. Photo: Santee Lakes/Facebook

Haley and her volunteers are sharing photos of the active wildlife and plant growth on social media. Currently, there are three bald eagles at the lake.

On the Lake Jennings Facebook page, Haley noted with a photo of a bald eagle in flight, “Lake Jennings Social Distancing: Always keep an eagle’s wingspan between you and others.” According to National Geographic, a bald eagle’s typical wingspan measures from six to eight feet – the recommended social distancing minimum.

According to National Geographic, a bald eagle’s typical wingspan measures from six to eight feet – the recommended social distancing minimum. Photo: Lake Jennings/Facebook

City of San Diego lakes and reservoirs closed until further notice

Paddleboarding-Lake Hodges-coronavirus-845x450

Paddleboarders will have to wait to get on Lake Hodges. The City of San Diego has closed all reservoirs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: City of San Diego

The City of San Diego’s reservoirs and lakes are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The city closed the reservoirs to the public on March 18 to protect the public and minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The nine water supply storage reservoirs are operated by the City’s Public Utilities Department.

The Nieves family's landscape makeover project won the Sweetwater Authority's contest in 2019. Photo: Sweetwater Authority 2020 landscape makeover

2020 Landscape Makeover Competition Opens Call For Entries

Fourteen water agencies in San Diego County seek the best in landscaping makeover projects for the regional WaterSmart 2020 Landscape Makeover competition. The annual contest offers the opportunity to showcase residential waterwise landscaping as a way to inspire other homeowners to consider replacing water-guzzling turf based designs.

The contest deadline for all participating agencies has now been extended to Friday, May 29. Homeowners may submit their entry online. You must be a resident within agency boundaries to participate. Each agency winner receives a $250 gift certificate and recognition on the agency website and social media channels.

Deborah Brandt's winning landscape includes contrasting elements, such a cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Deborah Brandt’s 2019 winning landscape for the Vista Irrigation District includes contrasting elements, such as cactus, river rock and wood chips, against a backdrop of dramatic magenta, purple and striking orange. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Participating agencies include California American Water, the cities of Escondido, Oceanside, and San Diego, Fallbrook Public Utility District, 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.

“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, water conservation specialist for the Vista Irrigation District.

Turf removal saves estimated 36 million gallons annually

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own Conservation Garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Oty Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own conservation garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Otay Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

With a majority of residential water use in San Diego County attributed to watering landscapes, regional water efficiency efforts focus on outdoor water use.  By showcasing their beautiful landscape in the WaterSmart Landscape Contest, homeowners can offer ideas and demonstrate how waterwise landscaping can be attractive as well.

Thanks to ongoing education and incentives, San Diego County residents have targeted more than one million square feet of turf grass for replacement with WaterSmart landscaping through free landscape makeover classes sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority between 2013 and 2018. The Water Authority has documented an estimated savings of 33 million gallons annually,

Online landscape makeover tips available

If you need some inspiration or guidance, WaterSmartSD offers landscape makeover videos you can view on demand. This series of videos mirrors the content of the in-person workshops and four-class series. Each video takes you step-by-step through the process of creating your own beautiful, water-efficient landscape.

From measuring your property to getting to know your soil to picking the right plants for the right place, these entertaining and informative videos will guide you along the path to a WaterSmart landscape.

In addition, WaterSmartSD provides a list of online resources and guides to planning your landscape design project, soil analysis, compost and mulch, plant choices, and irrigation.

For additional information on 2020 Landscape Makeover Contest entry rules, go to WaterSmartLandscapes.

Click on the gallery below for more 2020 landscape makeover inspiration from past winners.

 

 

Student Artists Featured in 2020 ‘Water Is Life’ Calendar

Five talented San Diego County student artists from four elementary schools were among 36 Southern California students whose artwork will appear in the 2020 “Water Is Life” calendar.

The five artists represent regional water agencies including Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam MWD, and Sweetwater Authority.