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Funding is still available in 2024 to install water-efficient toilets and smart irrigation controllers in underrepresented communities across the region. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority low-flow upgrades

Funding Still Available in 2024 For Free Low-Flow Upgrades

Income-qualifying residents in the San Diego region can still benefit from a grant-funded program replacing outdated toilers with high-efficiency models in 2024.

More than 6,000 high-efficiency toilets have been installed free of charge to date in under-represented communities across the region through a grant-funded program run by the San Diego County Water Authority.

Funding remains available to replace about 4,000 more outdated toilets with professionally installed, high-efficiency models at no cost. Eligible communities include mobile home communities, multi-family units, and income-qualifying single-family homes.

Qualified applicants for low-flow upgrades include mobile home communities, multi-family housing, and income qualifying single family homes. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Qualified applicants for low-flow upgrades include mobile home communities, multi-family housing, and income-qualifying single-family homes. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Smart irrigation controllers are also available at no cost through the program. Participants must be residential customers within the Water Authority’s service area.

Learn more about the program, including eligibility requirements and the application process at Direct Install Program.

Free upgrades conserve water, save money

High efficiency toilets and smart irrigation controllers conserve water while saving costs. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority low flow upgrades

High-efficiency toilets and smart irrigation controllers conserve water while saving costs. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“This is a great way for residents to get a free home upgrade that conserves water and saves on water bills,” said Mel Katz, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Water affordability is a top priority for the Water Authority, and this program is one of many ways we are combatting inflationary pressures on water prices.”

Through the Direct Install Program, toilets that use 1.6 gallons or more per flush are replaced with premium, high-efficiency models that use half the water. The program is entirely funded by more than $4 million in grants from the California Department of Water Resources Integrated Regional Water Management and Urban Community Drought Relief programs and through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Water Authority pursues funding for region’s water system

In addition to the Direct Install Program, the Water Authority is taking numerous other steps to enhance affordability. For instance, the agency helped secure $25 million to cover overdue residential water bills resulting from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The Water Authority also operates an industry-leading asset management program designed to avoid the extreme costs of emergency repairs on large-scale water pipelines.

In 2024, the Water Authority is working with Washington, D.C. officials to secure federal funds to defray the cost of generational upgrades to local dams and reservoirs.

Wastewater Collection System Worker II Jesse Halbig explain how the crew put a remote camera into the sewer system to inspect the condition of the sewer pipes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Water Academy

Vallecitos WD Water Academy Draws A Crowd

Vallecitos Water District (VWD) customers got a first-hand look at what it takes to operate their water and wastewater systems at a Water Academy Tour hosted on November 2. Forty-six customers participated in the day-long program.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Matt Wiese explains how staff monitor functions at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Water Academy

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Matt Wiese explains how staff monitor functions at the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

After being welcomed by VWD General Manager Glenn Pruim and Assistant General Manager James Gumpel with an overview of the District, certified water and wastewater specialists took Water Academy participants through tours of the Sustainable Demonstration Garden and its water meters, its equipment and water operations control room, the Twin Oaks Reservoirs and the Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility.

Other tour highlights include demonstrations of specialized equipment used by the District’s water professionals, and a visit to the Water Operations Department’s computerized control room to see how the District ensures that the drinking water is safe.

At the Sustainable Demonstration Garden, participants learned about conservation techniques for their landscaping.

At all stops, customers had the opportunity to have their questions answered by staff and District board members, including at a group lunch.

Reservoir, Reclamation Facility Tours A Highlight

Water Systems Operator II Toby Luna demonstrates how water is tested. Photo: Vallecitos Water District Water Academy

Water Systems Operator II Toby Luna demonstrates how water is tested. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Participants boarded a chartered bus for a first-hand look at the District’s 33-million-gallon and 40-million-gallon capacity Twin Oaks Reservoirs, currently said to be the largest of their kind in the world. The grand finale of the tour is a visit to the District’s Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility in Carlsbad, capable of recycling up to 74% of the wastewater generated in its service area. At this facility, participants learned how microorganisms help clean the water and see how recent plant upgrades to increase capacity benefit the community by lowering the overall demand for water.

“It’s a privilege for our team of certified water and wastewater specialists to provide Vallecitos Water District customers a first-hand look at what it takes to operate the Vallecitos Water District and provide reliable, exceptional, and sustainable water and wastewater service to the more than 100,000 residents in our service area,” said Chris Robbins, VWD Public Information/Conservation Supervisor.

 

 

 

Lake Oroville Recovers After the 2021 Drought as Water Levels Soar Over 200 Feet

After a devastating drought in 2021 that left Lake Oroville at their lowest water level ever at 628.47 feet, the lake has now seen an intense increase in water levels.

“This past winter storms provided a huge boost to the state water projects, water supply, especially at our largest reservoir at Lake Oroville,” said Ted Craddock, Deputy Director of the State Water Project.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell Water Levels Have Risen, But Runoff Slowing Down

Lake Mead has risen more than 3 feet over the past month, and nearly 13 feet since Jan. 1.

The lake, which supplies 90% of the water used in the Las Vegas valley, is bucking the trend of the past five years. Lake Mead typically drops beginning around April, following a seasonal pattern.

As snow melts upstream in the Upper Colorado River Basin, water is held back in dams all along the way to prepare for higher consumption during the hot summer months. Water eventually reaches Lake Powell before flowing through the Grand Canyon and into Lake Mead.

Newsom Signs Bills to Speed up Infrastructure Projects

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a package of bills Monday aimed at streamlining the construction of solar and wind farms, reservoirs, bridges, railways and other infrastructure projects in the Golden State.

Warming Causes More Extreme Rain, Not Snow, Over Mountains. Scientists Say That’s a Problem

warming world is transforming some major snowfalls into extreme rain over mountains instead, somehow worsening both dangerous flooding like the type that devastated Pakistan last year as well as long-term water shortages, a new study found.

Using rain and snow measurements since 1950 and computer simulations for future climate, scientists calculated that for every degree Fahrenheit the world warms, extreme rainfall at higher elevation increases by 8.3% (15% for every degree Celsius), according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature.

Heavy rain in mountains causes a lot more problems than big snow, including flooding, landslides and erosion, scientists said. And the rain isn’t conveniently stored away like snowpack that can recharge reservoirs in spring and summer.

California’s Major Reservoirs Remain Nearly Full Heading Into Summer

This will be the first time in several years that California will enter summer with the majority of its reservoirs at or over 90 percent of total capacity, according to data from the California Department of Water Resources.

As of Saturday, Shasta, Oroville, Folsom, New Bullards Bar, San Luis, Castaic and Cachuma reservoirs are over 90 percent of their total capacity and in the case of Shasta and Oroville are less than 5 percent away from being full.

Snow Surveys Help Plan Snowmelt Runoff Forecasts

The California Department of Water Resources May 1 conducted the fifth snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 59 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 30 inches, which is 241% of average for this location on May 1.

The last time there was measurable snow at the Phillips snow course on May 1 was 2020, when only 1.5 inches of snow and .5 inches of snow water equivalent was measured.

DWR’s electronic readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicate the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 49.2 inches, or 254% of average for May 1.

The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water still contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply run-off forecast.

State Water Project to Deliver 100% of Requested Supplies as Reservoirs Fill

The California Department of Water Resources announced Thursday that the State Water Project will be able to deliver 100% of requested water supplies this year thanks to full reservoirs following record winter rain and snow.

Feds Will Release More Water Downstream Into Drought-Stricken Lake Mead After Wet Winter

After years of punishing drought, a historic winter snowpack is bringing a reprieve to the Colorado River Basin and the nation’s largest reservoirs.

The US Bureau of Reclamation announced Thursday that this winter’s rain and the projected runoff from above-normal snowfall is expected to boost its water releases this year from Lake Powell to Lake Mead by 2.5 million acre-feet.