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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.

 

 

“Lights at the Lake” at the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve features 100,000 lights and three dozen displays nightly through December 28. Photo: Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve holiday activities

San Diego Regional Reservoirs Offer Holiday Activities

Several of San Diego County’s most popular reservoir recreation areas offer special holiday events through 2023 and host winter activities during the region’s cooler months.

Santee Lakes shows its holiday spirit

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve hosts the “Lights at the Lake” drive through holiday show through December 28. It features more than 100,000 lights and three dozen displays to brighten your holidays. Hours are 5:45 p.m. through 8:45 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). You must buy tickets in advance at https://santeelakes.ticketspice.com/lights-at-the-lakes-2023.

See a video preview.

Santa Claus visits with kids on December 21, 22, and 23.

Trout fishing season is in full swing. Lakes 4 and 5 were recently stocked with 1,000 pounds of trout.

For the second year in a row, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve was nationally recognized by the Outdoor Hospitality Industry (formerly ARVC) as its large/mega park Plan-it Green Park of the Year for its environmentally friendly practices across all areas of park operations and its commitment to sustainability. Judges make their decisions based on several criteria: guest experiences, all-around excellence in operations, professionalism, marketing, customer service, and industry involvement.

Originally opened to the public in 1961, today, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve hosts over 760,000 visitors annually. The 190-acre park’s lakes are stocked with fish year-round. Other amenities include camping, cabin rentals, fishing, boating, playgrounds, walking trails, facility rentals, special events, and approximately 230 bird species.

Lake Jennings open for winter fun

A happy angler shows off his catch at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings/Facebook

A happy angler shows off his catch at Lake Jennings. Photo: Lake Jennings/Facebook

Lake Jennings is open daily except on Christmas Day from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 7. Trout fishing season is in full swing, with the lake fully stocked with 1,500 pounds of rainbow trout. It will be restocked again the week of December 25 and January 8 and 22.

The lake will be open for its New Moon Fishing event on Saturday, January 13, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, sunset watching, star gazing, and firepit rentals. The lake will be freshly stocked with 1,500 lbs. of rainbow trout. The entrance gate closes at 8 p.m.; full-sized lanterns are required after sunset. Get more information about activities at https://lakejennings.org/

Lake Jennings is a popular destination for birding and viewing wildlife, like this red-tailed hawk. Photo: Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings is a popular destination for birding and viewing wildlife, like this red-tailed hawk. Photo: Lake Jennings

Lake Jennings is an exceptional destination during winter months for the serious and casual wildlife viewer and photographer. The rolling hills, the endless lake, the coastal sage, and the riparian areas provide a diverse habitat in a small area. Common sightings include deer, fox, and osprey. Bird watchers are drawn to Lake Jennings for its rich variety of bird species.

Free Fishing Sundays coming to an end at Sweetwater Reservoir

Just two Sundays are left to enjoy Sweetwater Reservoir’s “Free Fishing Sundays.”

Located at the eastern edge of Bonita, Sweetwater Reservoir’s Recreation Program is easily accessible to Authority customers and offers outdoor activities, including 2.5 miles of shoreline fishing and a riding and hiking trail operated by the County of San Diego.

The entrance is at 3203 Summit Meadow Road in Bonita. A valid California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fishing License is required. Regular fishing fees remain in effect on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays. For information on current hours, fees, and safety, visit www.sweetwater.org/fishing.

The reservoir is primarily a local water supply for the Authority’s 200,000 customers in National City, Chula Vista, and Bonita. The Sweetwater Authority has created recreational opportunities, including fishing programs and a riding and hiking trail at Sweetwater operated by the County of San Diego through a license from the Authority.

 

 

 

Andujar-Padre Dam MWD-Division 4-Board of Directors

Padre Dam Board Appoints New Board Member to Division 4

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors has appointed Ivan Andujar to fill the Board vacancy in Division 4  as the result of the recent passing of August Caires. Andujar was sworn into office and officially seated on the Board of Directors immediately following the Board appointment at the September 6, 2023 Board meeting. Andujar will serve for the remainder of the current team which expires in December 2024.

“It is a true honor to have been selected to represent Division 4. My interest in being part of Padre Dam’s Board is to be a voice for the customers I serve in Division 4,” said newly appointed Board Member Ivan Andujar. “My first priority as a new Board member will be to learn all aspects of Padre Dam operations so that I will have the knowledge necessary to make sound decisions with my fellow Board members.”

Padre Dam Municipal Water District-Ivan Andujar-Division 4

Padre Dam Board Appoints New Board Member to Division 4

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors has appointed Ivan Andujar to fill the Board vacancy in Division 4  as the result of the recent passing of August Caires. Andujar was sworn into office and officially seated on the Board of Directors immediately following the Board appointment at the September 6, 2023 Board meeting.  Andujar will serve for the remainder of the current team which expires in December 2024.

“It is a true honor to have been selected to represent Division 4. My interest in being part of Padre Dam’s Board is to be a voice for the customers I serve in Division 4,” said newly appointed Board Member Ivan Andujar. “My first priority as a new Board member will be to learn all aspects of Padre Dam operations so that I will have the knowledge necessary to make sound decisions with my fellow Board members.”

Andujar was one of three candidate who applied for the open Board seat in Division 4. After Board interviews at the regular Board meeting, Andujar was selected as the top choice of three candidates.

Padre Dam MWD-Andujar-Board of Directors-Division 4

“It is a true honor to have been selected to represent Division 4. My interest in being part of Padre Dam’s Board is to be a voice for the customers I serve in Division 4,” stated newly appointed Board Member Ivan Andujar. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Active community member

Andujar prides himself as being an active community member within the area he lives – East County. He currently serves as the Chief Operations Officer for the East County Transitional Living Center and also is the Chairman of the Alpine/Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Andujar is a member of the El Cajon Rotary Club, Lakeside Kiwanis, San Diego Leadership Foundation and Community Emergency Response Team.

Andujar-Padre Dam MWD-Division 4-Board of Directors

Ivan Andujar was sworn into office and officially seated on the Board of Directors immediately following the Board appointment at the September 6, 2023 Board meeting.  Andujar will serve for the remainder of the current team which expires in December 2024. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam provides water, sewer, recycled water and recreation services to approximately 102,000 residents in East San Diego County including Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest. The District is a public agency with policies and procedures directed by an elected five-member Board of Directors. The District imports 100% of our treated water supply and treats two million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater at our Water Recycling Facility.

(Editor’s note: The Padre Dam 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.)

Padre Dam Board Vice President August A. Caires

Padre Dam Municipal Water District Board Vice President August Caires died August 2 from pancreatic cancer. He was 76 years old.

“Augie served this District and his community with outstanding distinction for nearly 30 years. He was a good friend and colleague to many of us,” said Padre Dam Board President Bill Pommering. “He will be missed greatly.”

Caires led the District as General Manager from 1993 to 2006 and served on Padre Dam’s Board of Directors from 2007 to 2023.

August Caires-Padre Dam Muncipal Water District-August A. Caires

Padre Dam Board Vice President August A. Caires

Padre Dam Municipal Water District Board Vice President August Caires died August 2 from pancreatic cancer. He was 76 years old.

“Augie served this District and his community with outstanding distinction for nearly 30 years. He was a good friend and colleague to many of us,” said Padre Dam Board President Bill Pommering. “He will be missed greatly.”

Caires led the District as General Manager from 1993 to 2006 and served on Padre Dam’s Board of Directors from 2007 to 2023. He served as Board President in 2009 and 2017 and Vice President in 2008, 2011, 2015-2016 and 2023. Caires served on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program’s Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors from 2019 to 2023. He was also a Veteran of the United States Army.

Decades of public service

During his tenure, he represented Padre Dam on the San Diego Metro Commission/Metro Wastewater Joint Powers Authority, the San Diego Independent Rates Oversight Committee, the Association of California Water Agencies’ Water Management Committee and the Association of California Water Agencies/Joint Powers Insurance Authority. His commitment to the community extended beyond his role with Padre Dam; he served on the Grossmont College Foundation Board as well as 40 years as a member of the Rotary Club of Santee-Lakeside, serving as President for three terms and earning the Rotarian of the Year award for demonstrating “Service Above Self.”

Caires’ professional background includes 41 years of public service, including 27 years as a public agency CEO. Among his many accomplishments as Padre Dam’s General Manager, Caires created the Workforce Partnership which made labor, management and the Board equal partners in strategic planning – a great tradition of collaboration that continues today. In 2002, Caires was honored as one of the Top Ten Leaders in the Public Works Profession in the United States and Canada by the American Public Works Association.

“Augie’s passing leaves a deep sadness among Padre Dam employees.” said Board President Pommering. “I have known and worked with him since 2009. I will miss his counsel, I will miss his friendship and I will miss Augie.”

August A. Caires-Padre Dam Municipal Water District-Customer Service Center

Padre Dam’s Customer Service Center was rededicated as the August A. Caires Customer Service Center at the July 19, 2023, Board Meeting. Padre Dam’s Board recognized Director Caires for his outstanding public service to the District, community and San Diego region. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Leadership ensures water reliability

Caires was a tireless proponent of infrastructure integrity, water quality and fire safety. His aspirations and advocacy for the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve resulted in the planning and approval of many projects, and his forethought and leadership were instrumental in making it a nationally recognized, award winning park. He was a strong advocate for ensuring water reliability while working to keep costs down, and was instrumental in the District’s efforts to advance water recycling and bring a local water supply to East County through the East County Advanced Water Purification Program.

During his time as General Manager, Caires played a pivotal role in the building of a new Customer Service Center in order to co-locate the District’s Administration offices with the Operations facilities already located at Santee Lakes. In July 2023, the building was rededicated as the August A. Caires Customer Service Center in recognition for Caires’ outstanding public service to the District, community and San Diego region.

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

Santee Garden Oasis Wins 2023 Padre Dam Municipal Water District Landscape Contest

Santee homeowners Edie and Tate Thomas created a beautiful landscape with California native plants to save water, beautify their home, and support the region’s wildlife. Their effort won the 2023 Padre Dam Municipal Water District landscape makeover contest.

A beautiful Santee garden oasis is the winner of the 2023 Padre Dam Municipal Water District Landscape Contest. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Garden Oasis Wins 2023 Padre Dam Municipal Water District Landscape Contest

Santee homeowners Edie and Tate Thomas created a beautiful landscape with California native plants to save water, beautify their home, and support the region’s wildlife. Their effort won the 2023 Padre Dam Municipal Water District landscape makeover contest.

Preserving rainfall by design 

The Thomases buried large unglazed clay pots in their yard called ollas, watering the plants with minimal water loss. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District Santee Garden

Buried large unglazed clay pots in their yard called ollas, allows watering the plants with minimal water loss. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

In 2018, the couple began working on their makeover project. Edie Thomas is an architect, and Tate Thomas is a contractor. They took advantage of their building and design skills by creating a topography to capture and preserve the rainwater falling on their yard.

Their landscape is irrigated through underground rock ravines that collect rainwater in a rock-lined underground cistern reservoir which flows water to plants through gravity. They also buried large unglazed clay pots in their yard called ollas, which have above-ground access points to refill them with water. Plants wrap their roots around the porous ollas, which seep water out as needed, watering the plants with minimal water loss.

Edit Thomas advises other homeowners to do the same with their landscape topography.

“I always recommend people visualize a single drop of rainwater falling at the highest point of your landscape,” she said. “Watch where gravity takes that raindrop and plan your landscape around that flow.”

The pair also use drip irrigation about once a month along with occasional hand watering during extended dry periods.

Colorful variety of native plants featured

A wide variety of California native plants are featured in the winning landscape design. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District Santee garden

A wide variety of California native plants are featured in the winning landscape design. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Long nature walks and information from the California Native Plant Society inspired the Thomas’s to use native plants for most of their landscape, mixing colors and texture to be visually appealing. They have been richly rewarded with an ecosystem of butterflies, caterpillars, bees, birds, and bunnies. They describe their design concept as “playful chaos.”

Community space

The sidewalk in front of the garden is designed to be a community space for those walking by. The large California Coastal Live Oak provides shade to the retaining wall, designed as a place to sit and rest. Visitors can browse through books from the couple’s Little Free Library. Water-efficient herbs growing in the planter boxes under the tree are offered to those who pass by.

Edie and Tate Thomas spend most evenings on their patio, enjoying the space and watching their ecosystem thrive. They look forward to watching the plants grow and mature in the coming years and even decades.

“It’s so rewarding to see people come by and rest in the shade or take some rosemary for their dinner,” said Edie Thomas. “I love that we get to give a small square of land back to nature and that our neighbors enjoy it as much as we do.”

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

Padre Dam Customers Could Be Facing Even Higher Bills

Already paying some of the highest water bills in the nation, customers of Padre Dam Municipal Water District as well as 22 other agencies could see their rates increase even more if two North County water districts secede from the San Diego County Water Authority.

Both the Fallbrook Public Utilities District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District have been trying to leave the CWA because they say the costs for the purchased water is too high, and they can get it cheaper by joining the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County.

Over 175 water-efficient plant and tree species are on display at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District Demonstration Garden. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Experience a Sustainable Demonstration Garden Self-Tour

Sustainable landscape demonstration gardens inspire homeowners to create and maintain their own beautiful, water-efficient landscapes. In California, where more than half of urban water usage goes towards landscape irrigation, any reduction in water consumption contributes to successful conservation efforts.

The San Diego County Water Authority and several member agencies host demonstration gardens that residents can visit and gather ideas for their own landscape makeovers and water-efficient upgrades. With gardens flourishing in late spring, it’s the perfect time for a self-guided garden tour.

San Diego County Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Photo: Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The Water Authority sustainable landscape demonstration garden at its Kearny Mesa headquarters showcases how homeowners can increase water efficiency and boost the environmental benefits of outdoor spaces through sustainable landscaping practices.

The 3,000-square-foot garden incorporates well-known water-efficient techniques such as climate-appropriate plants and high-efficiency irrigation. It also includes features to enhance water efficiency and reduce stormwater runoff.

Helix Water District

Native, water-wise plants thrive in one of the Helix Water District's demonstration gardens. Photo: Helix Water District

Native, water-wise plants thrive in one of the Helix Water District’s demonstration gardens. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix Water District created its first demonstration landscape in July 2020 at the district’s administration office in La Mesa. The project beautifies the neighborhood and serves as an inspiration to install low-water-use landscaping.

Three unique water-wise gardens include a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue, a desert landscape on Lee Avenue, and a California native landscape at the main entrance on Quince Street. Each garden boasts an array of flowers, colors, and textures and is easily visible from the sidewalk. The plants in these gardens are adapted to San Diego’s climate, requiring half to a fifth of the water needed by a traditional lawn. The gardens, at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa, are low maintenance and provide habitat for local wildlife.

The Helix Water District demonstration garden includes interactive elements such as descriptive signs with QR codes that visitors can scan to learn more about specific plants. Photo: Helix Water District

The Helix Water District demonstration garden includes interactive elements such as descriptive signs with QR codes that visitors can scan to learn more about specific plants. Photo: Helix Water District

Plant markers display each plant’s name so visitors can write down their favorites and a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to access additional information such as light and water needs. Visitors can access hwd.fyi/get-inspired to download the garden plans, obtain plant lists, and view several resources available to help start their own garden.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Customers can visit the California-friendly demonstration garden and hydroponic gardening tower at OMWD’s headquarters free any day of the year. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Customers can visit the California-friendly demonstration garden and hydroponic gardening tower at OMWD’s headquarters free any day of the year. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District headquarters houses a sustainable landscape demonstration garden showcasing water-efficient landscaping techniques. Customers can visit the California-friendly demonstration garden and hydroponic gardening tower free of charge throughout the year, either in person or online.

The garden highlights four key principles of sustainable landscaping: healthy soils, rainwater as a resource, climate-appropriate plants, and low-water use irrigation. Its location is 1966 Olivenhain Road, Encinitas.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Over 175 water-efficient plant and tree species are on display at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District Demonstration Garden. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

More than 175 water-efficient plant and tree species are on display at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District Demonstration Garden. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

The Padre Dam Municipal Water District encourages East San Diego County residents to explore its water-efficient demonstration landscape to see more than 175 water-efficient plant and tree species.  Padre Dam’s Water Conservation Garden is open to the public during business hours and located at its Customer Service Center at 9300 Fanita Parkway in Santee.

City of Poway Kumeyaay Native Plant Demonstration Garden

Monkey Flowers, Chalk Dudleya, wild cucumber, and Penstamon are all blooming at the Kumeyaay Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway. Photo: Courtesy Kumeyaay Ipai Interpretive Center at Poway via Facebook demonstration garden

Monkey Flowers, Chalk Dudleya, wild cucumber, and Penstamon are all blooming at the Kumeyaay Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway. Photo: Courtesy Kumeyaay Ipai Interpretive Center at Poway via Facebook

The City of Poway honors its Native American heritage with its Native Plant Demonstration Garden as part of the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center. It’s open the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for both docent-led and self-guided tours, located at 13104 Carriage Road, Poway.

A thriving community of Native Americans populated Pauwai long before the Spanish arrived. The evidence of their lives and work can be seen today at the Center, founded by a partnership with the City of Poway, Friends of the Kumeyaay, and the San Pasqual Band of Indians.

A video tour showcasing Native American plant uses can be viewed online here.

Vallecitos Water District

In 2023, a Little Free Library was installed at the north end of the Vallecitos Water District garden, stocked with garden books to inspire residents to adopt water-wise gardening practices. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

In 2023, a Little Free Library was installed at the north end of the Vallecitos Water District garden, stocked with garden books to inspire residents to adopt water-wise gardening practices. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Vallecitos Water District developed its demonstration garden in 2010 with design plans from Palomar College Environmental Architecture and Design students. The project received support from local businesses, organizations, and District employees.

The garden showcases sustainable practices and includes a rainwater harvesting system that collects rain from the roof into three storage tanks with a combined 2,500-gallon capacity. This system reduces the reliance on potable water, and the captured rainwater is used for the prominent water features in the garden which run on solar power.

California-friendly plants are supported with plant-nurturing mulch, compost, and biosolid pellets made from recycled wastewater solids produced at a treatment plant partially owned by Vallecitos, the plants are bolstered with moisture and nutrients. This eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.

The garden features a weather-based irrigation controller display, durable aluminum shade structures, dry riverbeds, artificial turf, micro-irrigation, and an artistic sculpture highlighting the value of water. A new private patio area has been added, and all pathways are now ADA-accessible.

Vallecitos’ sustainable demonstration garden has achieved recognition as a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” by the National Wildlife Federation in 2013 and has been acknowledged as a “Certified Earth Friendly Garden” by the Master Gardeners Association of San Diego County. In 2023, a Little Free Library was installed at the north end of the garden, stocked with garden books to inspire residents to adopt water-wise gardening practices. The garden is located at 201 Vallecitos De Oro, San Marcos.

The Water Conservation Garden

The Water Conservation Garden feature a Native Habitat Garden, the Compost Exhibit, the Veggie Garden and the Succulent Garden. Take a free, docent-led tour the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. Illustration: The Garden

The Water Conservation Garden features a Native Habitat Garden, the Compost Exhibit, the Veggie Garden, and the Succulent Garden. Take a free, docent-led tour the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. Illustration: The Water Conservation Garden

The Water Conservation Garden is a nearly five-acre display showcasing water conservation through a series of themed exhibits. Displays include a native plant garden and vegetable garden as well as how-to gardening and irrigation exhibits. Admission is free and the garden can be viewed on a self-guided tour or through one of its programs including classes and special events. The Water Conservation Garden is located at 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West, El Cajon.

Rebates, resources, WaterSmart Landscape Contest winners

Using water efficiently is a way of life and responsibility in the San Diego region. Residents have adopted habits that not only save money, but also create vibrant yards, reduce energy use, protect natural resources, and reduce landscape maintenance.

In a 2007 survey published in The Journal of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, half of those surveyed during a visit to San Diego County’s Water Conservation Garden found reported making a change to their landscape due to their visit to the water conservation demonstration garden, illustrating their value to the community.

La Mesa resident Nick Voinov stands in front of his 2022 Helix Water District Landscape Contest winning yard. Photo: Helix Water District water efficient yard

La Mesa resident Nick Voinov stands in front of his 2022 Helix Water District Landscape Contest winning yard. Photo: Helix Water District

Along with the sustainable landscape demonstration gardens, many of the Water Authority’s member agencies provide opportunities for their customers to enter the annual WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The stories of the winners are regularly published in the Water News Network and can be found in the Features tab on the WNN homepage under the Conservation Corner category. The WaterSmart Living category, also under the Features tab, offers resources and tips on how to convert water-wasting landscapes to beautiful water-wise gardens.

(Editor’s Note: The Helix Water District, City of Poway, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and the Vallecitos Water District are five of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the San Diego region.)