The Padre Dam Municipal Water District has been name a 2020 "Utility of the Future Today" for its water reuse initiatives and its workforce development efforts. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam Named Utility of the Future Today

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s leadership in the development of water reuse as well as its strong workplace culture received national recognition with a 2020 Utility of the Future Today award. The award honors substantial excellence in the operation of water sector services.

“We are honored to be recognized as a groundbreaking agency in the area of water reuse,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam general manager and CEO. “This distinction highlights our ongoing commitment to innovative improvements in service of our customers.”

The Utility of the Future Today program celebrates the achievements of water utilities transforming from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve. It was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Water reuse efforts recognized

Padre Dam Municipal Water District has been recycling water since 1958. The District’s Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility produces around two million gallons per day of recycled water.

Padre Dam is now working on a regional water and wastewater solution in a collaborative partnership between Padre Dam and the County of San Diego, City of El Cajon, and Helix Water District to expand on the history of water reuse through the East County Advanced Water Purification Project.

The project will create a new local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify recycled water and diversify East San Diego County’s water supply, while reducing the region’s dependence on imported water. This new water supply will provide approximately 30% of East County’s water demand, and nearly eliminates the discharge of East County’s treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Padre Dam is currently the Program Administrator for the regional East County Advanced Water Purification Program.

Workplace culture fosters collaboration

Utility worker Sarah Hargis and her workgroup in the Padre Dam wastewater division are essential workers who ensure the wastewater collection system is functioning correctly. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Utility worker Sarah Hargis and her workgroup in the Padre Dam wastewater division are essential workers who ensure the wastewater collection system is functioning correctly. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s strong organizational culture of collaboration, learning, service, and transparency also received recognition. The award cited Padre Dam as an agency that encourages the ongoing learning process and the improvement of its workforce in the planning and decision process. This culture empowers every employee to think creatively, cultivating an organizational culture of innovation.

Padre Dam has enjoyed a successful and progressive workforce partnership with management, labor, and its Board of Directors for decades. Over the last several years, the District invested in the reinvention of its internal workforce development program to meet the changing needs of its modern workforce.

Now called the “Pipeline,” the program embraces a philosophy enabling broad-based participation in the organization’s decision-making processes.

“The Pipeline relies on the primary principle that we can better serve our customers by conducting activities in a collaborative and transparent manner,” said Carlisle. “Long before our employees became essential workers providing vital services during the pandemic, Padre Dam recognized their tremendous value to our organization. This award is for each and every one of our employees who have performed in an exemplary way when they were needed most.”

Pure Water San Diego Associate Engineer Anthony Van guides a new virtual tour of the demonstration facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Pure Water San Diego Launches Guided Virtual Tour

The City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility public tour is now available as a virtual tour. A new video provides an up-close look at the technology behind the water purification plant. In-person tours are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and will resume once it is safe to do so.

Since opening in June 2011, nearly 19,000 people have toured the one-million-gallon-per-day facility in person. Now, the Pure Water Demonstration Facility Virtual Tour takes viewers step-by-step through each of the five treatment processes used to create Pure Water.

Members of the City Pure Water team including wastewater operators, engineers, and water resource specialists explain the equipment and technology. Each is accompanied by graphics and animations showing the inner workings of each barrier. The video also includes drone footage for a bird’s-eye view perspective not previously available to the public.

Take the Pure Water San Diego virtual tour

Phase 1 construction on schedule to begin in early 2021

Construction of Phase 1 of the Pure Water Program is scheduled to begin in early 2021. Phase 1 will include a full-scale, 30-million-gallon-per-day Pure Water Facility that will use the five water purification steps modeled at the Demonstration Facility.

The North City Pure Water Facility will be constructed on a City of San Diego owned parcel east of Interstate 805 and north of Eastgate Mall, across from the existing North City Water Reclamation Plant.

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird's eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Senior Wastewater Operations Supervisor John Carroll gives viewers a bird’s eye view of the facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Purified water produced at the completed plant will be delivered to the Miramar Reservoir, blended with the City of San Diego’s imported and local water sources, and treated again at the existing Miramar Drinking Water Treatment Plant. After this process, the water will be distributed to customers. Phase 1 projects are expected to be completed in 2025.

The tour video is available at More information about the Program can be found at

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Continues to Expand Recycled Water Use 

Seagate Village Homeowner Association in Encinitas Now Irrigating with Recycled Water

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District began supplying locally produced recycled water to the Seagate Village Homeowner Association in Encinitas today. By converting to recycled water, the HOA will offset imported potable demand by about 9.5 acre-feet annually, or nearly 3.1 million gallons, as well as reduce their expenses due to the reduced cost of recycled water. Each acre-foot is enough water to offset the total water use of more than two average households for a year.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Announces WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winners

Vista, Calif. — The Vista Irrigation District board of directors recognized customers for their entries in the district’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest.
The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on the criteria of overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient methods of irrigation.

Robin and Mike Zeigler received the “Best in District” award. It was important to Robin, Mike and their daughter, Kallie, to be water smart with their landscaping choices during a comprehensive landscape and irrigation upgrade. After taking a WaterSmart Landscape workshop last spring, the Zeiglers used their knowledge to transform their monotone front lawn to a colorful bloom filled garden reminiscent of their favorite European gardens.

Water Districts Work Together to Save Ratepayers Money

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District and Vallecitos Water District have entered into an agreement that will allow for cooperative use of Vallecitos’ Double Peak Reservoir site in San Marcos. The arrangement is expected to save OMWD ratepayers over $100,000.

Helix Water District Logo Square

Regional Collaboration on Water Purification Project Expands Local, Drought-Proof Supply of Drinking Water

The Helix Water District Board of Directors authorized its General Manager to sign water purchase agreements for the East County Advanced Water Purification project at a special meeting on May 27, 2020.

2019 Started and Ended Wet in San Diego; Heat Was Less Persistent

Last year came in and went out like a wet lion in San Diego County. In between, it was a relatively tranquil, although not uneventful weather year.

OPINION: The Future of Water

With the recent heavy rains, our water supply may not be at the top of everyone’s worry list. Even so, last week the San Diego County Water Authority gave an update on the future of water in our region.

The Colorado River Is Overcommitted. Here’s Why – And What We Can Do About It

In the very early years of the 20th century, Western leaders had big dreams for growth, dreams tied to bringing water from the Colorado River across mountains and deserts.

In dividing up the river, they assigned more water to users than the system actually produces. The consequences of the so-called “structural deficit” are being felt today, as states sweat through difficult river diplomacy to prop up water levels in reservoirs.

Vallecitos Water District Senior Construction Systems Worker Steven Klein hosts the latest "Work We Do" video, describing his team working on a valve replacement. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District ‘Work We Do’ Videos Connect With Community

The Vallecitos Water District is moving beyond traditional bill mailers and tri-fold brochures to communicate with its customers in a more effective and dynamic way by using video.

Vallecitos Board President Hal Martin conceived the idea to create “Work We Do” videos to help customers see and understand first hand the complex work Vallecitos water professionals perform to ensure reliable water and wastewater services. Viewers see and hear from the workers in the field as they complete tasks such as replacing outdated equipment or using smoke testing to detect sewer leaks and protect the environment.

“I’ve seen the quality of staff videos and I realized it was the perfect way to show our customers exactly what we do,” said Martin of the series and the initiative.

Watching crews in action providing the community with reliable drinking water and wastewater services, protecting the environment, and developing the next generation of water workers, makes customers better informed citizens about the area’s vital infrastructure in a transparent way.

The video series also includes helpful information such as how to read water meters.

Online tools transforming community outreach efforts

Vallecitos Water District maintenance professionals perform a valve replacement project featured in the district's latest Work We Do video. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District maintenance professionals perform a valve replacement project featured in the district’s latest Work We Do video. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“We’re working to change our Public Information Department and keep up with current technology,” said Chris Robbins, Vallecitos public information and conservation supervisor.

Robbins said the goal is to feature each department within the district and focus on topics that lend themselves to visual communication. Videos run three minutes or less to keep the audience engaged.

The latest ‘Work We Do’ video in the series features a recent valve replacement

Finished videos are posted to the district website, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The videos can also be seen on the City of San Marcos news channel, San Marcos TV. Videos are also shared through water industry news websites such as Water News Network.

Alicia Yerman, a Vallecitos public information representative, shoots and edits the video series. She schedules time to join crews at work when performing a specific task. She also plays talent scout, finding a knowledgeable employee who can describe the work on camera.

Not all staff want to talk, but Yerman is able to coax at least one Vallecitos staff member to be the ‘on camera talent,’ and she also has a knack for bringing out their best. She finds ways to make staff more comfortable being on camera—either by asking questions or placing staff members in comfortable settings.

Yerman and Public Information Representative Lisa Urabe were recently certified as drone pilots. Future videos will feature district work from a bird’s eye point of view.