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San Elijo’s Water Reclamation Facility Named “Plant of the Year”

The San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility near San Elijo Lagoon on Manchester Avenue in Encinitas was named “Plant of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association, the agency announced today.

The award recognizes accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, cost-effectiveness and superior plant performance amongst wastewater agencies across California.

San Elijo’s medium-sized facility earned the accolade for its commitment to renovating aging infrastructure, collaborating with San Diego State University and utilizing student research, prioritizing staff development and integrating computer modeling into day-to-day operations, according to a recent release.

San Elijo’s medium-sized facility earned the accolade for its commitment to renovating aging infrastructure, collaborating with San Diego State University and utilizing student research, prioritizing staff development and integrating computer modeling into day-to-day operations, according to a recent release.

“What really impressed the judges about the San Elijo submittal was that they scored well in every category,” said Brian Peck, a delegate for the California Water Environment Association, on June 15 when presenting the award to the board of directors.

San Elijo serves Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and portions of Rancho Santa Fe and can process more than 5 million gallons per day of wastewater and stormwater.

The agency employs advanced treatment technology to produce recycled water for industrial uses and irrigation at golf courses, schools, parks, streets, greenbelts and the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

San Elijo delivers recycled water through several local partnerships, including Olivenhain Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District and the City of Del Mar.

(Editor’s note: The Olivenhain Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District and the City of Del Mar are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Helix Water District Part of Countywide Landscape Contest That Runs Through May

Helix is one of a dozen local water agencies taking part in a countywide WaterSmart Landscape Contest this year.

Previously known as the California-Friendly Landscape Contest, the annual competition, now in its 17th year, rewards water-efficient landscapes created by customers of Helix and other participating agencies around San Diego County.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Low-Cost Rain Barrels Available for OMWD Customers

Encinitas, Calif. — To encourage water conservation and reduce runoff that can carry pollutants into local waterways and beaches, Olivenhain Municipal Water District has partnered with neighboring water districts—San Dieguito Water District, Santa Fe Irrigation District, and Carlsbad Municipal Water District—to offer discounted rain barrels to area residents.

North County Residents Frustrated by Spike in Water Bills

Dozens of residents in North County are complaining about skyrocketing water bills and meter readings they say don’t add up.

FOX 5 was there Tuesday as a Cardiff-by-the-Sea homeowner tried to get answers from the San Dieguito Water District about what’s happening with her bill.

 

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

North County Agencies Secure $2.8 Million for Recycled Water Projects

Encinitas, Calif. — The California Department of Water Resources approved a grant package that will provide $2.8 million in state grant funding to three North County water and wastewater agencies to expand and upgrade recycled water infrastructure.

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.

 

 

Mysterious Machine Dropped to the Bottom of Lake Hodges

It’s the only one of its kind in Southern California and no one will see it again for years.

“It’s a giant upside-down cone with some pipes,” said Jeff Pasek. “It’s a strange looking device.”

It’s a strange looking device called a Speece Cone that’s expected to improve the water quality at Hodges Reservoir near Escondido.

“It’s not going to be seen again for a number of years because it’s 70 feet deep in the reservoir,” said Pasek, a Project Officer with the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department.

The $3.4 million project will constantly inject oxygen into the reservoir which will reduce the nutrients that algae feed on, Pasek said.

City of San Diego’s Hodges Reservoir Reopens Feb. 5 for Recreation

The city of San Diego’s Hodges Reservoir will officially reopen to the public three days a week beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 5, allowing access for a variety of activities, including boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking. Hodges is normally closed November through January.

Hodges will be open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from sunrise to sunset. It will also be open on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day holidays.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo

Water Districts Host Rain Barrel Sale

Encinitas, CA—To encourage water conservation and reduce runoff that can carry pollutants into local waterways and beaches, Olivenhain Municipal Water District has partnered with San Dieguito Water District and Santa Fe Irrigation District to offer discounted rain barrels to area residents.

 

Crews loaded the 130,000 pound stainless steel cone onto a barge and finished assembling it above water before lowering it into the reservoir. Image: Water Authority

New Oxygenation System to Improve Reservoir Water Quality

The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department last week took a major step toward completing an innovative project to improve water quality in Lake Hodges. A newly installed oxygenation system, designed by city engineers, will introduce highly oxygenated water to the bottom of the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and harmful algae growth.

The increase of nutrients and algae in the water has been caused by human activities in the watershed upstream of the reservoir, including residential and commercial development, agriculture, and land clearing. Degraded water quality can restrict the ability to move water in and out of the reservoir.

“The ‘Speece cone’ is a fairly unique method for adding oxygen to a reservoir – there are only a few of them in the world,” said Jeff Pasek, project manager at the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department. “This project derived from a planning study that was done about five years ago, which identified oxygenation using the ‘Speece cone’ as being the most cost-effective way of addressing the water quality problems in Hodges.”

Last week, the 130,000 pound cone – named after the inventor of the technology, Richard Speece – was lowered eighty feet to the bottom of the reservoir.

Streamlined operation for maximum efficiency

The precisely coordinated operation involved lifting the 20-foot tall stainless steel cone with a large crane, while simultaneously driving a barge out from underneath. Once the cone was lowered into the water, divers headed to the bottom of the reservoir to unhook the cone from the crane, check to make sure it settled in the correct spot, and fasten it down.

In order to build a solid foundation underwater, crews excavated approximately 11 feet of silt from the bottom of the reservoir and constructed a concrete base. Before submerging the cone, crews installed and tested a pump that will move water through the cone. A large diffuser pipe was then lowered and connected to the cone by divers. The diffuser will distribute the oxygen-rich water throughout the reservoir.

Now underwater, the cone will distribute oxygen-rich water throughout the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and prevent harmful algae growth. Image: Water Authority

Now underwater, the cone will distribute oxygen-rich water throughout the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and prevent harmful algae growth. Photo: Water Authority

Local and regional benefits at Hodges Reservoir

Hodges Reservoir is owned and operated by the City of San Diego, and it serves the San Dieguito Water District and the Santa Fe Irrigation District. It is connected to the San Diego County Water Authority’s Olivenhain Reservoir as part of the Emergency & Carryover Storage Project, which is designed to ensure regional water reliability in case of emergencies or if the region is cut off from imported water supplies.

“There are multiple benefits to this project – first and foremost being the water quality improvements for Hodges Reservoir,” said Goldamer Herbon, a senior water resources specialist at the Water Authority. “Ancillary benefits include operational flexibility for regional supply benefits and preventing the accumulation of mercury, which can be harmful to people and wildlife that eat fish from the reservoir.”

The California State Department of Water Resources awarded the City of San Diego a $3.4 million grant funded by the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management program to complete the oxygenation project, which began in February 2019.