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Water Authority Offers to Help Parched Areas of California with Stored Supply in Central Valley

The San Diego County Water Authority’s board has directed its staff to explore opportunities to help other water districts weather an emerging drought across California.

The authority said that because of three decades of investment in supply reliability, along with a continued emphasis on water-use efficiency, the San Diego region has sufficient water supplies for multiple dry years.

Those investments include high-priority Colorado River water from the Imperial Valley, seawater desalination, and access to the Semitropic Original Water Bank in Kern County, where the authority has stored about 16,000 acre-feet of water — enough to supply more than 30,000 homes for a full year.

Water Authority Offers Help to Regions in Need During Drought

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors April 22 authorized staff to explore opportunities to help other water districts weather an emerging drought across California. Three decades of investments in supply reliability, along with a continued emphasis on water-use efficiency, mean the San Diego region has sufficient water supplies for multiple dry years. Those investments include high-priority conserved water from the Imperial Valley, seawater desalination, and access to the Semitropic Original Water Bank in Kern County, where the Water Authority has stored about 16,000 acre-feet of water.

Water Authority Offers Help to Regions in Need During Drought

April 23, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors yesterday authorized staff to explore opportunities to help other water districts weather an emerging drought across California.

Three decades of investments in supply reliability, along with a continued emphasis on water-use efficiency, mean the San Diego region has sufficient water supplies for multiple dry years. Those investments include high-priority conserved water from the Imperial Valley, seawater desalination, and access to the Semitropic Original Water Bank in Kern County, where the Water Authority has stored about 16,000 acre-feet of water.

LOGO-SDCWA-Vallecitos Water District-Stacked

Agencies Reach Agreement over Water Deliveries

April 22, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District have reached agreement over pipeline repairs and how to measure water deliveries while moving ahead as partners to ensure long-term water supply reliability. The Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday approved terms of a settlement with Vallecitos designed to end litigation filed in 2020. Vallecitos’ Board of Directors previously approved the terms.

Students-Student displays science and engineering fair project

San Diego County Students Innovate to Solve Water Challenges

In March, Water Authority staff judged water-related projects by students at the 67th annual Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. Judging the fair is a longstanding tradition at the Water Authority and a component of the education outreach program. For decades, the Water Authority has recognized the top water-related projects with a scholarship and award. This year’s fair was conducted in a virtual format, but more than 280 students still brought their best projects to the table.

Each student who was interviewed by Water Authority staff demonstrated a strong knowledge of the scientific process, as well as an awareness of big picture issues that are important in the water industry and beyond. Five winners were selected, and each will receive a gift card and plaque. Water Authority staff also showcased a video of the five winners and their outstanding projects at the April San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors meeting.

Students present top water-related projects

Forward-thinking students solve global and everyday water issues

In the senior division, first place winner Bella Rose Schremmer designed a piston-buoy rack and pinion wave energy converter device. The 10th grader from University City High School said she was inspired by the kinetic energy formed by ocean waves, and she wanted to create a project that could capture that energy as a renewable energy source to replace the burning of fossil fuels. Bella Rose attributed part of her success in this project to her father, who supported her by procuring materials and providing encouragement, and to her teacher and mentor, Mrs. Bosch, who guided her through the process.

In second place, Suvali Sengupta created a biodegradable microporous polymer that was designed to help soil water retention in an agricultural setting. The 11th grader from Westview High School shared that her inspiration came from her Indian heritage and the drought conditions that India’s farmers struggle with each year.

Saltwater desalination, water purification, water conservation

In the junior division, Kristine Talaga from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School won first place with her project on saltwater desalination. The 7th grader designed a project to test the effects of different colored backgrounds – black, white or foil – on containers containing salt water and how quickly heat could desalinate the water in each container.

Samantha Rivera, an 8th grader from Chula Vista Middle School, claimed second place with her project about which methods of water purification removed the most dissolved solids.

In third place, 8th grader Sonria Rheiglene Simanski, also representing Chula Vista Middle School, tracked how much water is wasted when waiting for the shower to warm up, determining the best times of day to shower for optimal water-use efficiency.

CWA Waives Late Penalty for Rainbow Payment

The electronic payment the Rainbow Municipal Water District made to the San Diego County Water Authority didn’t process by the date it was due, so Rainbow was assessed a late penalty. The fault was in the electronic processing rather than Rainbow’s lack of a payment attempt, so March 25, the SDCWA board unanimously approved a waiver of the penalty.

Macedo Jr. Gets a Water Authority Spot

The San Diego City Council Tuesday appointed Val Macedo Jr. to the San Diego County Water Authority, giving the business representative for the local chapter of LIUNA a leadership role on the regional water board.

That appointment comes just over two years after his father, Valentine Macedo, who we quoted above, had a dispute with other construction union officials over San Diego’s Pure Water project, one of the largest infrastructure projects the city has pursued in its recent history, which is expected to eventually supply 53 million gallons of drinking water to city residents a day.

In late 2018, when the City Council was wrapping up a construction contract on the project, Macedo wrote to the Council taking issue with a provision he opposed, and that other major construction unions support.

“This requirement gets the City Council involved in an ongoing conflict between certain trades,” Macedo wrote.

Kelvin Barrios, then a Council staffer and now a Laborers employee, passed the letter to his boss, and other union leaders. Barrios went on to run for City Council against now-Councilman Sean Elo-Rivera, before dropping out of the race amid a handful of ethical violations, including failing to disclose that he was paid by the Laborers while still working for the city.

Probably unrelated: Elo-Rivera was the only Council member who did not support Macedo Jr.’s appointment this week.

Of note: Officials at the Water Authority nearly didn’t consider the massive Pure Water project in its accounting of the region’s long-term water needs earlier this year.

Welcome to the Board: Ismahan Abdullahi, City of San Diego

Ismahan Abdullahi was seated on the Board of Directors on January 25, 2021, representing the City of San Diego. Director Abdullahi serves on the Administrative and Finance and Engineering and Operations committees for the Water Authority.

Ismahan Abdullahi-City of San Diego-Welcome to the Board

Welcome to the Board: Ismahan Abdullahi, City of San Diego

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights new members of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 36-member Board of Directors. Each of the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies appoints at least one representative to the Board, which sets policy for the Water Authority.

Welcome to the Board: Ismahan Abdullahi, City of San Diego

Who: Ismahan Abdullahi was seated on the Board of Directors on January 25, 2021, representing the City of San Diego. Director Abdullahi serves on the Administrative and Finance and Engineering and Operations committees for the Water Authority.

Background/Education: Abdullahi earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology at UC San Diego and a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in counseling at San Diego State University. She serves as the Executive Director of MAS-PACE (Muslim American Society-Public Affairs and Civic Engagement). She also serves on the board of local community based organizations and institutions, with more than a decade of nonprofit experience.

Q & A

Q: How did you get interested in water issues?

A: Water is life itself. It is one of the key elements that is often taken for gratitude when it is available in abundance and sought after when it is limited. My interest in water issues is deeply personal. As a refugee from Somalia, I know the impact inadequately sanitized or treated water can have on families, introducing diseases such as cholera. We’ve seen how water contaminants and unsafe water (such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan) has disproportionately impacted Indigenous, low-income and communities of color, particularly our Black and Brown communities. As a community advocate and organizer, I’ve seen the impact that rate increases and high water bills continue to further inequities in refugee, immigrant, and poverty stricken communities. My interest in water lies in my lived experience and over a decade of engaging in community work and seeing that impact firsthand.

Q: What are your priorities or interests as a Board member?

A: Policies and decisions made regarding water reliability, access, quality and safety have a direct impact on the lives of everyday San Diegans who are trying to thrive. I sincerely hope to bring an equity centered lens that honors both our environment and our communities. As a board member, I want us to bring forth creative solutions that meet the needs of our ratepayers and our region for generations to come. The COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated the very inequities we knew existed before, leaving many San Diegans left with immensely high water bills. Equitable access to water, an inclusive and community centered space that prioritizes ratepayers and our environment and reliable and safe water for our future remain top priorities for me.

Q: Besides maintaining safe and reliable water supplies, what do you see as the top three issues facing the San Diego region?

A: Our region needs to adopt a racial equity framework in how it conducts business. In our region, we are facing a worsening housing crisis, climate emergency and the lack of a guaranteed living wage for the very people that are the backbone of our economy. We must be bold in our solutions and intersectional in facing our challenges. We cannot tackle our issues as a region without an intersectional equity framework.

Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?

A: My passion outside of working is to enjoy nature and reading. A nice walk at the beach, hike or quality time spent with loved ones in the outdoors is always a joy and a blessing.

The Water Authority’s Board of Directors typically meets on the fourth Thursday of each month. The Board invites the public to attend its monthly meetings and to comment on agenda items or other matters before the Board. For meeting times, agendas and documents, go to www.sdcwa.org/board-directors.

Welcome to the Board: Kimberly Thorner, Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Kimberly Thorner was seated on the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors on January 6, 2021, representing the Olivenhain Municipal Water District. Director Thorner serves on the Administrative and Finance, Audit and Engineering and Operations committees.