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Working with Hoch Consulting, the Vallecitos Water District inspection project will take place through June. Photo: Vallecitos Water Distict

Vallecitos Water District Taps Tech for Pipeline Inspection

The Vallecitos Water District is using a specialized camera and sonar to evaluate the condition of a sewer pipeline between San Marcos and Carlsbad.

The Land Outfall West pipeline is a large sewer line that stretches from El Camino Real to the Encina Water Pollution Control Facility in Carlsbad. Originally installed in 1986, an evaluation of the pipeline’s current condition using closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras and sonar will help the District identify and prioritize its ongoing pipeline renewal and maintenance activities.

Inspections help ensure system reliability

Field teams begin the inspection process, which is taking place at night to minimize disruption. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Field teams begin the inspection process, which is taking place at night to minimize disruption. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The pipeline ranges in size from 24-inches to 54-inches in diameter and is approximately 3.2 miles long. Project Manager Susan Bowman said today’s technology allows the District to perform thorough inspections without digging up streets and disrupting neighborhoods.

“We want to make sure the pipeline is still in good shape,” explained Bowman, who is the District’s asset management supervisor. “We’re going to be taking a look at the inside of the pipe using an advanced CCTV tool. It looks at all of the insides of the pipeline and identifies any flaws or maintenance issues that may need to be addressed.”

Bowman said the District regularly inspects manholes and performs routine inspection activities. Using cameras and sonar will provide more detailed information to help the District plan ongoing maintenance and repair to ensure the pipeline will continue to perform well.

District staff, consulting staff, pipeline inspectors, and environmental inspectors will be onsite during the work. Work started at the east end of the pipeline in Carlsbad, and will follow along Palomar Airport Road under Interstate 5, and end at the Encina Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Cost-effective and less disruptive

Map showing the 3.2 mile stretch of Vallectios Water District pipeline undergoing inspection in June. Photo: Vallecitos Water Diatrict

Map showing the 3.2 mile stretch of Vallecitos Water District pipeline undergoing inspection in June. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

To minimize traffic impacts and to take advantage of lower flow levels, all work is scheduled at night between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and will occur on weekdays through June 18. Bowman said most of the work should have limited impact on businesses and residents in the area, with minor compressor noise and limited street blocking along Palomar Airport Road.

Pipeline inspections tap tech

“We want to be good neighbors,” said Bowman. “But it is critical to ensure a pipeline is performing well, it is safe, and it is able to continue to do its job. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure the District’s assets are performing well. The technologies have really improved in the last 15 to 20 years.”

Previously, the only way to inspect a pipeline was to take it out of service and dig it up.

“If you’re going to dig something up to see what shape it’s in, you might as well be replacing it,” said Bowman. “We are definitely looking at a lot of these different noninvasive type of technologies. It helps the system perform better by reducing unplanned emergencies which are disruptive to all of us.”

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

EPA Funding-East County AWP-Padre Dam MWD

EPA Funding Secured for East County Drinking Water Project

In a major milestone for water reliability, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program was awarded a $388 million federal loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help advance the project’s completion.

Radhika Fox, U.S. EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, joined Kyle Swanson, Director of the East County AWP, and Steve Goble, Joint Powers Authority Chair of the East County AWP, for the June 4 announcement at the demonstration facility for the project in Santee. Following the presentation, Fox joined local officials for a tour of the demonstration facility.

“EPA is proud to partner on this project, which uses proven technology to bolster drinking water supplies in this climate-stressed region,” said Fox. “Investing in water infrastructure is one of the best bets we can make to improve public health and the environment, create jobs and address pressing challenges that face our communities.”

Radhika Fox (left), EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, and Kyle Swanson, East County AWP Director. Photo: East County AWP EPA Funding

Radhika Fox (right), EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, and Kyle Swanson, East County AWP Director. Photo: East County AWP

The East County AWP is one of only 38 projects selected nationwide to receive a share of approximately $6 billion in federal water infrastructure investments. The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan is the second-largest loan awarded to any San Diego County project.

“The East County Advanced Water Purification Program is the result of many years of strategic, long-term planning and this WIFIA loan marks a historic milestone in its development,” said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “By providing East County with local control and independence of both its wastewater and water, the program secures a long-term solution for increased stability in our communities and safeguards the vitality of our economy and quality of life. We are grateful to the U.S. EPA for partnering with us on this important program and investing in future generations.”

New, local, sustainable water supply 

Radhika Fox of the EPA tours the East County Advanced Water Project Demonstration Facility in Santee. Photo: East County AWP EPA Funding

Radhika Fox of the EPA tours the East County Advanced Water Project Demonstration Facility in Santee. Photo: East County AWP

The East County AWP is a collaborative partnership between the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, County of San Diego, and City of El Cajon. It will create a new, local, and sustainable drinking water supply using sophisticated technology to provide 30% of current drinking water demands for East County residents when it is completed in 2025, as much as 11.5 million gallons per day.

The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally and purify the recycled water at a new treatment facility using four advanced water purification steps. The purified water will then be pumped into Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix Levy Treatment Plant, and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District currently imports 100% of its drinking water supply. The agency treats two million gallons per day at its water recycling facility for irrigation and non-potable uses. Helix Water District imports approximately 85% of its drinking water supply with the remaining coming from local sources.

In addition to providing a new local water supply, the project will eliminate the need to send most of East County’s wastewater to the City of San Diego’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it is currently treated and then discharged into the ocean. Keeping this water resource in east county provides water sustainability and it’s good for the environment.

(Editor’s note: The Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, and the City of El Cajon are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Regular valve maintenance prevents unanticipated shutdowns of water service to Vallecitos Water District customers. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Valve Maintenance Program Ensures Reliable Service

Just as owners perform routine maintenance to keep their cars running smoothly, water systems need regular maintenance to provide reliable service. The Vallecitos Water District’s Valve Maintenance Program ensures these vital components in its water distribution remain in good working condition throughout the District. Valves left without proper maintenance for long periods can become a serious problem, especially in an emergency water shutdown.

VWD’s Construction Department manages the program. Two-person teams use maps to familiarize themselves with the location of the 4,959 valves in the system, not including fire hydrants and fire services. Critical valves serve hospitals and businesses. Between 300 and 500 valves are serviced monthly, following American Water Works Association standards.

Small but vital parts monitored

Construction worker Justin Shutt explains valves are isolation and shutoff point for water mains along streets.

“If we have a main break, where a main ruptures, we need to be able to isolate those certain sections without taking too many people out of water” by shutting the valves, said Shutt.

Valve Maintenance Technician John Truppa runs the valve maintenance program. He trains crew members how to use the valve exerciser machine, read maps properly, and respond to customer calls. Customer service is a priority. When a customer reports a water line leak in their home, the valve maintenance crew helps by shutting off the water at the meter.

The Vallecitos Water District’s geographic information system provides a written record of valve location, condition, maintenance, and inspection records for each valve serviced. Reliable recordkeeping is vital to ensure all valves receive regular maintenance and are replaced before coming to the end of their service life to reduce the percentage of failures and inoperable valves. The District monitors valve life span to replace them prior to failure. Areas prone to water main breaks and valves on mains serving large groups of customers get added attention.

Taking turns

 Between 300 and 500 valves are serviced monthly by two person teams. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Between 300 and 500 valves are serviced monthly by two-person teams. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Valve maintenance involves performing a prescribed number of turns to “exercise” or test the valve. Turns are calculated in part by the size of the main. Larger transmission water mains require more valve turns, both up and down. Turning speed is also important. If valves are closed too quickly, it creates “water hammer,” or sudden pressure forcing water down the line, potentially triggering water main breaks. You may have heard a water hammer in your house when you shut off a household valve suddenly.

Ounce of prevention

The District's geographic information system (GIS) provides a written record of valve location, condition, maintenance, and inspection records for each valve serviced. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Vallecitos Water District’s geographic information system provides a written record of valve location, condition, maintenance, and inspection records for each valve serviced. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Regular valve maintenance prevents unanticipated shutdowns of water service to Vallecitos customers.

“We want to take as few people out of water at a time as we possibly can,” said Shutt. “We keep up on the upgrades and make sure the valves are working the way they’re supposed to.”

The proactive approach by the Vallecitos Water District ensures the reliable delivery of quality water to its customers while ensuring all systems are working properly.

A Helix staff member installs parts in the ozone generator. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix Water District Reduces Plant Upgrade Costs

When the Helix Water District received contractor estimates as high as $3.5 million to upgrade the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant’s ozone power supply units and generators, it decided to perform the upgrade in-house.

With Suez Water Technologies provided engineering and equipment, Helix employees incorporated new technology and innovative installation practices. The proof of concept pilot project proved the feasibility of the new approach, and a full retrofit is now planned. The estimated upgrade costs to complete the full project is $1.1 million – an approximately 70% cost savings. The upgrade will extend the life of the power supply units and generators at least 15 years.

Reducing upgrade costs saves ratepayers

“The ozone project is our latest example of cost-effective local government,” said Brian Olney, Helix Water District director of water quality and system operations. “In early 2020, Helix staff also standardized the design, hardware, and software of the motor control centers in the district’s 25 pump stations, and that project also saved our customers money, and created long-term operating, maintenance and purchasing efficiencies.”

Ozone treatment provides safe and reliable water to East County

The ozone generator at Helix Water District’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant in Lakeside. Photo: Helix Water District

The ozone generator at Helix Water District’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant in Lakeside. Photo: Helix Water District

The water treatment process at the R.M. Levy Water Treatment plant begins with the removal of dirt and other material suspended in the water. Ozone is then used to inactivate or destroy any organisms in the water. Ozone offers important advantages over chlorine:

  • Ozone destroys or inactivates a wide range of organisms in the water
  • Ozone needs little contact time with the water to be effective
  • Ozone produces fewer potentially harmful disinfection byproducts than other disinfectants
  • Ozone removes most of the smell and taste issues people associate with tap water
Helix’s ozone project team (pre-pandemic) in front of the rebuilt power supply unit.

Helix Water District’s ozone project team (pre-pandemic) in front of the rebuilt power supply unit. Photo: Helix Water District

Ozone is naturally unstable at normal atmospheric conditions, which is why Helix needs ozone generators to produce it on site. The high voltage generators break down oxygen molecules (O2) and form ozone (O3). The ozone molecules are then diffused in a contact chamber and bubble up through the water to destroy any organisms present.

After ozonation, Helix Water District filters the water and adds a dose of chloramines — chlorine and ammonia — to maintain water quality throughout its 737 miles of water distribution pipelines. The treatment process is managed by a team of highly trained plant operators who conduct 200 water quality tests per day. Chemists and biologists test water samples from both the plant and the distribution system as well.

The Water Authority's Water News Network won a Bronze Bernays Award from the Public Relations Society of America San Diego/Imperial Chapter.

Water Agency Outreach Efforts Honored

The San Diego County Water Authority and three of its member agencies were recognized Dec. 17 by the Public Relations Society of America San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter for outstanding work in public outreach and education efforts.

The 2020 PRSA Bernays Awards were presented for communication on a variety of platforms, all designed to inform stakeholders and ratepayers about initiatives ensuring a safe and reliable water supply. Awards were presented virtually via live Twitter feed.

The Silver Bernays Award of Merit went to the Water Authority for "Engaging Hispanics on Water Quality Issues." Photo: PRSA SD/IC

The Silver Bernays Award of Merit for “Engaging Hispanics on Water Quality Issues.” Photo: PRSA SD/IC

The Water Authority received the Silver Bernays Award of Merit for Multicultural Public Relations for “Engaging Hispanics on Water Quality Issues,” and a Bronze Award of Merit in the Research/Evaluation category for “Researching Themes for Hispanic Outreach for Water Quality.” The agency’s Water News Network received a Bronze Award of Merit in the Websites category.

Earlier this year, the Water News Network was named “Best Website” among California public agencies in the California Association of Public Information Officials EPIC Awards competition. The website was also awarded first place as “Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website” in the 2020 San Diego Press Club Journalism Awards.

“During the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was more important than ever for the Water Authority to intensify its efforts to communicate with our audiences and assure them that the virus was not transmitted through the public water system and the essential work to provide a safe, reliable water supply continued without interruption,” said Denise Vedder, director of the Water Authority’s Public Affairs Department.  “In partnership with our member agencies, the Water News Network and our Hispanic outreach initiative played a key role in achieving this goal, and it is rewarding to be recognized by PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter for those results.”

Water agency outreach wins recognition

Padre Dam Municipal Water District and the cities of San Diego and Oceanside also received awards for outreach and education programs.

City of Oceanside employees Carlos Raymundo (closest) and Shawn Alonzo view the award-winning Pure Water Oceanside wall art project. Photo: City of Oceanside

Oceanside employees Carlos Raymundo (front right) and Shawn Alonzo view the Pure Water Oceanside wall art project. Photo: City of Oceanside

The City of Oceanside and NV5 Inc. recognized in three categories for Pure Water Oceanside:

Silver Award of Excellence, Campaigns: Events and Observances – Less Than Seven Days – “Pure Water Oceanside is on the Map!”

Bronze Award of Merit, Creative Tactics – “Wall Art Tells Story of Water’s Past, Present, & Future”

Bronze Award of Merit, Video – “Pure Water Oceanside Video”

“The City of Oceanside is proud to put Pure Water Oceanside on the map,” said Cari Dale, water utilities director, City of Oceanside. “Once complete, Pure Water Oceanside will provide more than 30% of Oceanside’s water supply. Our staff and consultants are dedicated to providing Oceanside with innovative solutions to water reliability and continued water reuse education.”

The City of San Diego, along with Katz & Associates, received a Silver Bernays Award of Merit in Campaigns, Events, and Observances – Less Than Seven Days for its “2020 Pure Water San Diego Virtual Contractor Expo.”

City of San Diego Director of Public Utilities Shauna Lorance welcomes viewers to the new virtual tour. Photo: City of San Diego water agency outreach

City of San Diego Director of Public Utilities Shauna Lorance welcomes viewers to the new virtual tour. Photo: City of San Diego

“Outreach remains a key element of our Pure Water program,” said Shauna Lorance, director of public utilities for the City of San Diego. “When the pandemic made in-person engagement impossible, our community outreach and project management teams rose to the challenge and implemented a successful 2020 Pure Water Virtual Contractor Expo. Providing the personal outreach to potential contractors allows the contractors to develop the best bids possible and helps ensure a successful Pure Water project.”

The Padre Dam Municipal Water District won a Bronze Award of Excellence for its 2019 Annual Report.

The cover of the award-winning Padre Dam Municipal Water District 2019 annual report. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

The award-winning Padre Dam Municipal Water District 2019 annual report. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

“Padre Dam is proud of our communications team for the great thought, creativity, and appreciation of the District’s work that is put into projects like the annual report,” said Melissa McChesney, communications manager for the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “They do all of this in order to share with our customers the important work and services we provide to our community.”

The SCOOP SD program and Tracks PR received a Silver Bernays Award of Excellence in Campaigns: Events and Observances – Less than Seven Days, Business, and a Bronze Bernays Awards of Merit in Creative Tactics, both for Sweet Relief for Small Biz During COVID.