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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.

CWA Vote Entitlement Percentage Down for Rainbow MWD, FPUD, Camp Pendleton

The San Diego County Water Authority board meeting Thursday, Nov. 19, approved the 2021 weighted vote allocations for SDCWA member agencies and the weighted vote for the Rainbow Municipal Water District, the Fallbrook Public Utility District and U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton will decrease from the agencies’ 2020 vote entitlements.

Homeowners Can Apply For Rebates to Transform Their Landscape. Here’s How

The San Diego County Water Authority is offering a rebate for homeowners willing to replace their lawns with more water-friendly landscape. Residents in the water authority’s service area can apply to get a rebate of $3 for every square-foot of lawn they replace with drought-tolerant plants; $2 will be provided by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and $1 will come from the water authority. Use this calculator to estimate your rebate amount.

Brian Idekler of O'Connell Landscape Maintenance installs a flow control sensor for the San Elijo HOA. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program Benefits San Elijo HOA

A major landscape makeover is helping a San Diego County neighborhood save money during these uncertain economic times. The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program helps qualified landscape contractors as well as large homeowners associations, save money and improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes by retrofitting irrigation devices.

The Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District recently worked with the San Elijo Community Association and O’Connell Landscape Maintenance to install water-efficient devices throughout its entire association property. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The San Diego County Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District recently worked with the San Elijo Community Association and O’Connell Landscape Maintenance to install water-efficient devices throughout its entire association property. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The San Diego County Water Authority and the Vallecitos Water District recently worked with the San Elijo Community Association and O’Connell Landscape Maintenance to install water-efficient devices throughout its entire association property, including 2,500 stations and 50 controllers. In addition, rebates allowed O’Connell Landscape to convert spray irrigation and rotor irrigation to drip irrigation, and add flow sensors.

Van Dyke Landscape Architects and its team of certified landscape irrigation auditors assessed the irrigation system in order to make recommendations for the system upgrades. Van Dyke performed initial irrigation audits to determine what types of irrigation upgrades would benefit San Elijo’s terrain and soil types best.

WaterSmart Incentive Program

Recommendations lead to significant improvements

Through its report, the landscape architects recommended areas of opportunity for the San Elijo HOA to save its homeowners money and water long-term. Through the WSCIP, the project earned $24,000 in rebates. The amount of water savings from weather-based controllers can range from 10% to 30% of actual water applied, and another 20% to 40% water savings by changing to a pressure-regulated point source drip system.

O’Connell Landscape Maintenance performed the irrigation work for the San Elijo HOA. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

O’Connell Landscape Maintenance performed the irrigation work for the San Elijo HOA. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“The smart irrigation controllers help send an alarm when there is a break, and the controller will stop the master valve and stop the leak,” said Fabian Alejo, account manager for O’Connell Landscape Maintenance. “The smart controller makes it easier for us to monitor flow, water usage, and leaks.”

Alejo said that the software that comes with the controller allows crews to get alarms in real time.

“Getting the alarms in real time pinpoints exactly the controller and the station number where we have a high water or no flow reading, allowing us to make repairs immediately where water is being wasted,” said Alejo.

Van Dyke landscape architect Nick Concra managed the rebate process.

“The rebate program is incredible,” said Concra. “HOAs using this program can save a lot of money, and a lot more than they think.”

Participants in the WaterSmart Contractor Incentive program call it “priceless.” Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Yale Hooper, principal landscape architect with Van Dyke, said the teamwork among the participants with the Water Authority and Vallecitos Water District makes the program so successful.

“From our perspective as landscape architects, these programs are priceless,” said Hooper. “If I were a contractor or HOA, these are ‘must do’ programs.”

The San Diego County Water Authority won multiple awards including a first place award for Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website for its communication efforts from the San Diego Press Club. Water News Network

Water News Network Honored by San Diego Press Club

For the third consecutive year, the Water News Network was recognized as the Best Public Service/Consumer Advocacy Website for its public outreach and education by the San Diego Press Club. The website was established by the San Diego County Water Authority to bridge the gap in news coverage of water-related issues affecting the region.

The first place award was announced during the San Diego Press Club’s 47th annual Excellence in Journalism Awards event, which was live streamed from the San Diego Automotive Museum on October 27.

Among the largest annual competitions in the United States, San Diego’s finest reporters, photographers, writers, artists, and communicators were honored with the region’s top awards.

Water News Network: “timely and accurate information about water issues”

“We’re proud to share this award with our 24 member agencies who provide the majority of the original content on the Water News Network,” said Denise Vedder, public affairs director for the San Diego County Water Authority. “The collaboration with our member agencies and other organizations make possible the timely and accurate information about water issues, projects, and programs that affect 3.3 million people across San Diego County.”

The Water News Network received the following Press Club awards:

Websites, Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Site: First Place, Water News Network

Online/Daily Newspapers, Wildlife/Nature: Second Place, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Cooper’s Hawk Chick Gets Special Handling Near Pipeline 5 Project

Online/Daily Newspapers, Wildlife/Nature: Third Place, Water News Network, Kristiene Gong, “Wildlife Protected for New Underground Reservoir Project

Online/Daily Newspapers, Science/Technology/Biotech: Third Place, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Baking Skills Used For Repair at Lake Hodges Pumped Storage Facility

Online/Daily Newspapers, Series – Light Subject: Honorable Mention, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Water Utility Hero of the Week

Online/Daily Newspapers, Environment: Honorable Mention, Water News Network, Ed Joyce, “Water Year 2020 Begins With Robust Reservoir Storage

Earlier in 2020, the Water News Network was given an EPIC Award as the Best California Public Agency Website by the California Public Information Officers (CAPIO). The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in the areas of communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development, and video production.

The Water News Network was praised by the CAPIO EPIC Award judges for its initiative in producing original story content with its stakeholders in mind.

This year’s San Diego Press Club awards program drew more than 1,100 entries across multiple media categories. Judges included members of press clubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Rochester (New York), Florida, Cleveland, Orange County, Milwaukee, Tulsa, and Alaska.

“The San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards celebrates professionals whose research, writing, reporting, and visual skills shed light on newsworthy topics that matter to us all,” said Albert Fulcher, 2020 San Diego Press Club president. “At a time when many Americans distrust the news media, I am proud of our organization’s 450 members and their commitment to truth and fairness with integrity, high standards, and ethical reporting.”

“I am also proud of our success at uniting journalism and public relations professionals while providing career-enhancing programs and networking opportunities for our members,” said Fulcher.

CWA Provides PSAWR Eligibility Guidelines

The San Diego County Water Authority approved a permanent Special Agricultural Water Rate program late last year but did not include any criteria. On Sept. 24, the SDCWA approved an ordinance adopting the program and setting eligibility criteria.

Scripps Collaboration to Optimize Water Management & Supply

The San Diego County Water Authority is partnering with the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and optimize water management before, during and after California’s ever-changing seasonal storms.

Atmospheric river storms produce 40%-60% of the West Coast’s annual precipitation and are responsible for the majority of flood damage in the region. Predicting and managing this is challenging due to unpredictable and changing snowmelt and rainfall.

To study this, Scripps’ Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) introduced the Water Affiliates Group, which brings together relevant science and water industry expertise to enhance reservoir operations along with California’s changing climate.

San Diego County Water Authority Partners with Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The San Diego County Water Authority announced today it is partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management before, during and after those seasonal storms.

San Diego County Water Authority Partners with Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management before, during and after those seasonal storms. This month, Scripps’ Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes launched the Water Affiliates Group, which brings together science and hands-on water industry experience to enhance reservoir operations in light of the changing climate. The water authority has a long-running alliance with Scripps.

Deputy Mayor to Serve on San Diego County Water Authority

On Wednesday, May 27 the San Diego County Water Authority welcomed Escondido Deputy Mayor Consuelo Martinez as its newest board member. The deputy mayor was sworn into the role via a Zoom call from her office.