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WNN Top Stories of 2022-WNN-Water News Network-Top Stories

Water News Network Top Stories of 2022

The Water News Network top stories of 2022 were drought-related and features about technology and college scholarships also engaged readers.

Water News Network Top Stories of 2022

The #1 Water News Network Top Story of 2022 focused on scholarship opportunities for water industry education and the growing need for water and wastewater industry workers:

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Funding water industry education and training

Otay Water District officials presents the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District

Among the highlights in the January 20 story, was news about the Mark Watton Scholarship Fund, established by the Otay Water District at the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges. The fund supports students attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. It honors Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton’s four decades of service to the district.

Patent for pipeline inspection system

The #2 most viewed story on the Water News Network in 2022 highlighted an innovative tool to inspect pipelines developed by the San Diego County Water Authority:

The Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Industry-leading asset management program

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Patent #US011,293,581 on April 5, 2022, for the Water Authority’s pipeline inspection system, which comprises a body, cameras, support members and light sources to capture high-resolution images of pipeline walls.

Utility Patent-Pipeline Inspection Tool-

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training. Inventor Martin Coghill calls the tool “Scanny.” Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Commitment to innovation

“This new pipeline inspection tool is a prime example of the Water Authority’s commitment to innovation that benefits ratepayers by saving money and enhancing reliability,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “We have a long history of advancing industry-leading solutions, from state legislation to adopt low-flow toilets in the early 1990s to the nation’s largest water conservation-and-transfer program a decade later to the largest seawater desalination plant on the continent.”

Rebates and water conservation

The third most-viewed story detailed the California state tax breaks available and rebates to remove grass and save money, as California edged into the fourth consecutive year of drought:

A newly signed state law exempts local rebates for grass replacement from state income tax, ensuring more dollars can be spent creating beautiful and functional WaterSmart yards.

“Drought conditions make it imperative to boost water conservation in San Diego County and across the state,” said Sandra L. Kerl, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “Using California tax incentives and regional rebates to install WaterSmart landscapes is a clear winner for stretching water supplies both today and for generations to come.”

The WNN feature story alerted homeowners and businesses in San Diego County that they are eligible to receive between $2 and $4 per square foot for removing grass and replacing it with low water-use plants that are better suited to withstand the hot and dry conditions that continue to hammer the West. All customers are eligible for the base rebate of $2 per square foot, but other agencies offer additional funding, including the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego.

Check latest rebates here: your-water/conservation/residential-rebates-programs

Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant

100 billion gallons-reverse osmosis-seawater desalination

Reverse osmosis is the heart of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. During this process, dissolved salt and other minerals are separated from the water, making it fit for consumption. This reverse osmosis building contains more than 2,000 pressure vessels housing more than 16,000 reverse osmosis membranes. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Drought-proof supply

Coming in as the 4th most popular story on the WNN in 2022 was the benefit of seawater desalination providing a drought-proof supply for San Diego County:

As the worst drought in 1,200 years grips the West, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is protecting the San Diego region with 50 million gallons a day of drought-proof water.

Completed in 2015, the plant was built before the period of increasing inflation that’s driving up prices for water infrastructure projects that are just starting. That means the desal plant is safeguarding the region’s economy and quality of life today at a lower cost than it would be to build now.

Carlsbad Desalination Plant-Water Supply Portfolio-desalination

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant uses reverse osmosis to produce approximately 10% of the region’s water supply; it is a core supply regardless of weather conditions, and it is blended with water from other sources for regional distribution. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

100 billion gallons

“Desalination remains a valuable tool for our community when it comes to ensuring safe and reliable water supplies no matter the weather,” said Jeremy Crutchfield, water resources manager for the Water Authority.  “It has shown its value by generating nearly 90 billion gallons over the past six years, and I’m confident it will continue to do so in the years ahead.”

In late-October 2022, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant passed a milestone, having served more than 100 billion gallons of high-quality, locally controlled water over the past seven years – as California entered a fourth consecutive year of severe drought.

(Editor’s Note: Click on the years to see the most viewed stories from 2019, 2020, and 2021. The Otay Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across San Diego County.)

Work for Water Scholarship Awarded to Local Aspiring Water Industry Pros

Chula Vista, Calif. – At last night’s meeting, the Sweetwater Authority Governing Board awarded the Work for Water Scholarship to two local students. David Inchaurregui Jr. of Chula Vista and Kassandra Beltran of National City were each awarded a $1,000 scholarship to support their career goals of working in the water industry.

Vista Irrigation District Recognizes Scholarship Winners and Student Artists

The Vista Irrigation District awarded college scholarships to seven high school seniors selected as winners of the district’s annual scholarship contest. Three fourth-grade students from the local community were also selected as winners of the district‑sponsored Student Poster Art Contest.

(L to R) Left to right: Scholarship winners Grace Koumaras, Jennifer Galan, Emilie Taylor, and Abigayle Paliotti. (Not pictured: Samantha Bailey, Kenneth Morales Reyes, and Mateo Sulejmani). Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Vista Irrigation District Recognizes Scholarship Winners and Student Artists

The Vista Irrigation District awarded college scholarships to seven high school seniors selected as winners of the district’s annual scholarship contest. Three fourth-grade students from the local community were also selected as winners of the district‑sponsored Student Poster Art Contest.

Emilie Taylor received a $2,500 scholarship, Samantha Bailey received a $2,000 scholarship, and Abigayle Paliotti received a $1,500 scholarship. All three scholarship winners are graduating seniors at Rancho Buena Vista High School. Runners-up Mateo Sulejmani, Jennifer Galan, and Kenneth Morales Reyes who also attend Rancho Buena Vista High School, and Grace Koumaras from Mission Vista High School, each received $1,000 as runners-up in the scholarship competition.

The scholarship contest is intended to increase the knowledge and awareness of water-related issues impacting the Vista Irrigation District. High school seniors living or attending school within the district’s service area are eligible. Students had to submit an essay and provide a personal statement related to their background and/or goals. Selection criteria also included community involvement or volunteer service, and letters of recommendation from high school faculty.

Poster contest winners promote water awareness

The annual poster contest is designed to promote understanding of water issues in elementary schools. This year’s theme was “Love Water, Save Water.” The three winning posters were selected from 176 entries based upon their depiction of the theme, artwork, originality, and poster design.

First Place: Sophia Puckett, Empresa Elementary School. Photo: Vista Irrigation District scholarship winners

First Place: Sophia Puckett, Empresa Elementary School. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Sophia Puckett, a fourth-grade student from Empresa Elementary School, is the 2022 first-place winner in the Vista Irrigation District 2022 Water Awareness Poster Contest. Sophia received a $100 award.

Second Place: Stevie Jones, Casita Center. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Stevie Jones from Casita Center received a second-place award of $50.

scholarship winners

Third Place: Valeria Martinez, Elementary School. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Valeria Martinez from Hannalei Elementary School received a third-place award of $25 for her entry.

Sophia Puckett with her award winning artwork. Photo: Vista Irrigation District scholarship winners

Sophia Puckett with her award-winning artwork. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Sophia’s poster will appear in the 2023 Water Awareness Calendar, available free of charge at the district’s office in November 2022.

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

High School Students Invited to Enter Special Districts Video Contest

San Diego County high school students whose Instagram Reels and TikTok skills impress their friends can put them to good use and earn scholarship money for their efforts.

The 2022 California Special Districts Association San Diego Chapter video scholarship competition is open through the end of April. The annual “Districts Make The Difference” contest promotes public awareness and understanding of the special districts providing communities with essential services like water, sanitation, healthcare, fire protection, and parks.

San Marcos High School student Jordan Chan’s 2019 winning video featured a Wild West time travel theme. Photo: YouTube special districts video contest

High School Students Invited to Enter Special Districts Video Contest

San Diego County high school students whose Instagram Reels and TikTok skills impress their friends can put them to good use and earn scholarship money for their efforts.

The 2022 California Special Districts Association San Diego Chapter video scholarship competition is open through the end of April. The annual “Districts Make The Difference” contest promotes public awareness and understanding of the special districts providing communities with essential services like water, sanitation, healthcare, fire protection, and parks.

In 2019, San Marcos High School student Jordan Chan’s winning video featured a Wild West time travel theme to illustrate the importance and variety of special districts serving San Marcos and other California communities, including the Vallecitos Water District.

Watch Chan’s winning video 

Rules for 2022 Special District video contest entries

Entrants must attend a San Diego County, high school. The video should be 60 seconds long and educate the public about any aspect of how special districts make a difference in their everyday lives. Videos can highlight the following content areas:

  • A unique program, service, or infrastructure project that a special district is currently promoting.
  • How an individual, a group of individuals, or a community is affected by special districts.
  • How special districts are formed and how they can provide essential services to the community.

Special districts are local government organizations formed by communities to provide essential services like drinking water, parks, or fire protection. San Diego County’s 24 member water agencies are special districts. There are more than 30,000 special districts across the U.S. Students can learn more about special districts in San Diego County at the California Special District Association (CSDA) San Diego Chapter website.

San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones presents winner Jordan Chan with a certificate of appreciation at the Vallecitos Water District's February board meeting. Photo: VWD

San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones presents winner Jordan Chan with a certificate of appreciation at the Vallecitos Water District’s February board meeting. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Helix Water District Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg and the San Diego Chapter of the California Special Districts Association launched the original video contest. It grew into a statewide competition.

Videos can be submitted straight from a phone or uploaded from a computer. Entrants will upload their video to YouTube, marked as “unlisted,” and provide the link in their application.

The video submission window will be open until April 30, 2022. The San Diego Chapter CSDA “Districts Make the Difference” judging committee will choose the top ten finalists. At the end of May, winners will be announced and receive $1,500 for the first-place winner, $1,000 for the second-place winner, and $500 for the third-place winner.

The video entries will be scored on the following criteria: incorporating the theme “How San Diego Special Districts Make a Difference,” creativity and originality, entertainment value, the accuracy of information, effectiveness and value of information, and production quality.

See more winning videos and learn more about special districts at DistrictsMaketheDifference.org.

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

College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs.

Scholarships-In her job at the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab, Associate Chemist Sarah Shapard performs tests analyzing for ammonia. Photo: City of Escondido Water industry education

College Scholarships Offered for Water Industry Education

Multiple California water associations and water agencies in San Diego County are offering college scholarships to help candidates achieve their goals.

A large number of recent retirements combined with the need for a skilled workforce up to date on new technologies have resulted in a critical need to increase the talent pool of skilled individuals in the water and wastewater industry, including in San Diego County.

Scholarships are available for community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and graduate-level programs. The following examples are due in the coming weeks for study in the 2022-2023 academic school year.

San Diego regional water scholarships

Otay Water District officials presents the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District water industry education

Otay Water District officials present the first donation for a scholarship fund to Cuyamaca College President Dr. Julianna Barnes named after Otay General Manager Mark Watton. Photo: Otay Water District

The Mark Watton Scholarship Fund, established by the Otay Water District at the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges, supports students attending the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. It honors Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton’s four decades of service to the district.

Applicants must be currently enrolled for at least six units at Cuyamaca College, verify financial need, and complete the general application and essay. Scholarships of $1,000 are available. The Otay Water District is continuing to accept donations to the Mark Watton Scholarship Fund.

Students can contact scholarship specialist Ernest Williams at 619-660-4537 or email for more information.

The Helix Water District offers two $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors living within the district’s service area who will begin their university studies next fall. Applications are due March 4 for the Dr. Lillian M. Childs Scholarship and the Robert D. Friedgen Scholarship, which both provide help with freshman year expenses. The scholarship committee reviews each applicant’s grades, extracurricular activities, volunteer and work experience, academic and career goals, and financial needs.

High school seniors must graduate in the Class of 2022 this spring and attend a four-year college or university next fall. Students submit a two-page essay answering the question, “What is potable reuse and East County Advanced Water Purification?”

Deadline: March 4, 2022. Application Link. Students can verify their eligibility at 619-466-0585.

The Vista Irrigation District offers up to six scholarships between $1,000 and $3,000 to high school students living or attending school within the district. The purpose of the scholarship program is to increase knowledge and awareness of water-related issues impacting their community. Students who compete for a scholarship must complete an essay and provide a personal statement. Selection criteria also include community involvement or volunteer service.

Deadline: February 25, 2022. Application Link. Students can call Alisa Nichols at 760-597-3173 with questions or to request application information.

California water industry group scholarships

Vallecitos Water District-water industry careers-veterans-jobs

Vallecitos Water District Senior Pump & Motor Technician Dale Austin encourages military veterans to consider water industry careers. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Canham Graduate Studies scholarship provides $25,000 for a post-baccalaureate student in the water environment field. The scholarship is for education-related expenses such as room and board, tuition and books. The scholarship may not be used to cover stipends or wages.

The applicant must be a WEF member, complete an online application, and be enrolled in a graduate program. Recipients must commit to working in the water industry for two years following graduation.

Deadline: March 1, 2022. Application Link. For questions, email Tori Cox at

The Association of California Water Agencies offers a $3,500 scholarship to qualified applicants attending a University of California or California State University school pursuing an undergraduate degree in a water-resources related field such as engineering, agriculture, environmental studies, or public administration. The applicant must be a junior or senior attending full-time during the 2021-2022 school year.  Criteria include scholastic achievement and motivation to the vocation of water-resources management.

ACWA also offers the new John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship to a currently employed water professional at an ACWA member agency selected to participate in the Water Education Foundation’s annual William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class. The program is named in honor of ACWA’s former executive director for his 22 years of service.

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood family ties

Vista Irrigation District Water Resources Office Assistant Jessica Sherwood is a third-generation water industry professional. Photo: Courtesy Jessica Sherwood

Deadline: March 1, 2022. Application Link. For questions, call 916-441-4545 or email .

The California-Nevada section of the American Water Works Association awards more than $20,000 in scholarships in support of students and professionals pursuing careers in a drinking water-related field. Two $5,000 graduate scholarships, four $2,500 undergraduate scholarships, and two $1,000 scholarships in support of training as a drinking water treatment/distribution operator are available.

Suitable candidates include environmental and civil engineers; water, wastewater and recycling treatment plant operators; distribution system operators; chemists; laboratory technicians; biologists, ecologists and environmental scientists; and others whose roles support safe and reliable drinking water.

Deadline: March 15, 2022. Application Link. For information, call 909-481-7200 or email 

With approximately 1,400 water and wastewater jobs expected to open up across San Diego County in the next five years due to retirements, water industry careers offer promising lifelong professional opportunities. For more information, visit sandiegowaterworks.org.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Vista Irrigation District, City of Escondido, and the Vallecitos Water District, are five of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Vista Irrigation District Contests Award Student Scholarships, Art Prizes

Eight North San Diego County high school seniors and three fourth-grade students were the winners of two separate Vista Irrigation District sponsored contests.

Kulpreet Chhoker from Mission Vista High School, Kylie Konyn from St. Joseph Academy, and Delanee Haskins from North County Trade Tech High School each received $2,000 as winners of the Vista Irrigation District 2021 scholarship contest.

Izak Bunda from Guajome Park Academy, Anthony Jones and Malia Leonard from Rancho Buena Vista High School, and Colby Rafail and Juan Ramirez from Vista High School each received $500 as runners-up in the scholarship contest.

Student poster contest winner Emaline Kennedy illustrated her entry with low water use plants. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Contests

Vista Irrigation District Contests Award Student Scholarships, Art Prizes

Eight North San Diego County high school seniors and three fourth-grade students were the winners of two separate Vista Irrigation District sponsored contests.

Vista Irrigation District Scholarship winners in 2021 include (Top Row, L to R) Kulpreet Chhoker, Kylie Konyn, Anthony Jones, Delanee Haskins; Second Row, (L to R): Colby Rafail, Malia Leonard, John Ramirez. Not pictured:  Izak Bunda. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Vista Irrigation District Scholarship winners in 2021 include (Top Row, L to R) Kulpreet Chhoker, Kylie Konyn, Anthony Jones, Delanee Haskins; Second Row, (L to R): Colby Rafail, Malia Leonard, John Ramirez. Not pictured: Izak Bunda. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Kulpreet Chhoker from Mission Vista High School, Kylie Konyn from St. Joseph Academy, and Delanee Haskins from North County Trade Tech High School each received $2,000 as winners of the Vista Irrigation District 2021 scholarship contest.

Izak Bunda from Guajome Park Academy, Anthony Jones and Malia Leonard from Rancho Buena Vista High School, and Colby Rafail and Juan Ramirez from Vista High School each received $500 as runners-up in the scholarship contest.

Open to high school seniors living or attending school within the Vista Irrigation District’s service area, the scholarship contest helps create awareness and increase knowledge about water-related issues impacting the Vista Irrigation District and the region where students live.

Poster Contest winners depict theme “Love Water, Save Water”

Open to District students in the fourth grade, the annual Student Poster Art Contest is designed to promote understanding of water issues in elementary schools.  This year’s theme was “Love Water, Save Water.”

Student poster contest winner Emaline Kennedy illustrated her entry with low water use plants. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Contests

Student poster contest winner Emaline Kennedy illustrated her entry with low water use plants. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Grapevine Elementary School fourth-grader Emaline Kennedy received first place honors for her Water Awareness Poster Contest entry.  She received a $100 award.

Second place winner Paul Gomez focused on enjoying water responsibly. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Second place winner Paul Gomez focused on enjoying water responsibly. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Fourth-grader Paul Gomez from Empresa Elementary School received a second-place award of $50.

Third place winner Matthew Potter depicts rainfall as a precious water resource.

Third place winner Matthew Potter depicts rainfall as a precious water resource. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Matthew Potter, a fourth-grader attending Alamosa Park Elementary School, received a third-place award of $25.

The three winning posters were selected from 249 entries based on the theme, artwork, originality, and poster design.  Emaline’s poster will appear in the 2022 Water Awareness Calendar, which will be available free of charge at the district’s office in November 2021.

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