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Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir 2023 rates

Water Authority Proposes 2023 Rates and Charges for Member Agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is taking strategic steps to minimize 2023 rate increases for its 24 member agencies and their customers while ensuring a safe, reliable, and affordable water supply as drought grips California for a third consecutive year.

FY 22&23 Adopted Budget ($1.7 million). Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

FY 22&23 Adopted Budget ($1.7 million). Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Water Authority staff proposed increasing 2023 rates and charges for member agencies by 5.2% for treated water and 3.7% for untreated water. The increases are attributable to historically high inflation, significant energy cost increases from SDG&E, and continued cost increases by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The rate proposal for 2023 includes strategic withdrawals from the Water Authority’s Rate Stabilization Fund, which was created in 1990 to help avoid rate spikes, especially those driven by reduced water sales. To reduce 2023 rate increases by approximately $39 per acre-foot, the Water Authority plans to draw $14.2 million from that fund.

Public comment

The Water Authority Board is expected to vote on rates for next year at its regular meeting on June 23, following a public hearing. The public is invited to comment on the proposed rates and charges. Public comment may be submitted by either of these two methods:

Before the meeting, or before the public comment closes at the meeting, submit your telephone number by e-mail to the clerk at and the clerk will call you when the Board is ready to hear your public comment (three minutes or less); OR

Before the meeting, or before public comment closes at the meeting, email your comment to the Water Authority General Counsel at , and time allowing, it may be read aloud at the public comment period (three-minute limit).

If modifications or accommodations from individuals with disabilities are required, such persons should provide a request at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting by e-mail to the Water Authority General Counsel at

(Note: Per Governor Newsom’s executive orders and state legislation, the June 23 San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Meeting will not be held in person, but electronically. The public may access the meeting electronically by going to this web link: https://www.sdcwa.org/meetings-and-documents and then clicking the link listed below “Live Stream” on the right hand side of the page).

Focus on maintaining lowest possible 2023 rates

Desal plant-5th anniversary-Carlsbad-construction

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant under construction in December 2013 reflects a significant commitment to water supply diversification. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“We recognize inflationary pressures are challenging for many residents, and we are working collaboratively with all levels of government to identify, advocate for, and improve water affordability,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “As our rate-setting process moves forward, we will remain focused on maintaining the lowest possible rates while delivering a safe and reliable water supply during the driest period in more than 1,200 years.”

The Water Authority’s commitment to affordability includes securing $25 million from the State of California to pay water bills for San Diego County residents impacted by COVID-19; securing $80 million through advocacy efforts in 2021 and distributing that money to member agencies; avoiding hundreds of millions in future costs on water deliveries; and maintaining strong credit ratings that reduce the cost of debt.

In 2023, the Water Authority proposes charging its 24 member agencies the equivalent to an all-in rate of $1,579 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $56 more per acre-foot than they currently pay. Charges would be $1,929 per acre-foot for treated water, or $96 more per acre-foot than in 2022. (Note: An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to serve the annual needs of 2.5 typical four-person households in San Diego County).

Actual figures will vary by member agency, and each member agency will incorporate costs from the Water Authority into the retail rates it charges to residents, businesses, and institutions.

Rising costs for treatment, supplies, and energy

Water Facilities Master Plan Update-Infrastructure-Planning 2023 rates

A major rehabilitation project on the region’s historic First Aqueduct was completed in North San Diego County in January 2021. The Water Authority will continue to lead in preparing for an uncertain future by improving existing infrastructure with resiliency and flexibility at top of mind. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The Water Authority’s overall rate increase is driven by multiple factors, such as rising costs for its water supplies, including increases in water treatment (driven by energy costs), conserved water supplies driven by inflation, and continued increases from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, including a 7% increase for untreated supplies.

Each year, the Water Authority’s rate proposal is developed in conjunction with an independent cost-of-service study to ensure rates and charges comply with state law, legal requirements, cost-of-service standards, and Board policies. For 2023, an additional third-party consultant hired to perform a cost-of-service review again affirmed the Water Authority’s process. Throughout the six-month rate-setting process, the Water Authority worked closely with its member agencies to keep the proposed rates and charges at the low end of earlier projections.

“Despite the current inflationary environment and the challenges of the pandemic, our strategic financial planning and management of debt allows us to keep the proposed rates at the low end of our projections,” said Water Authority Finance Director Lisa Marie Harris. “We continue to control rates while maintaining a complex water production, treatment, and delivery system that supports the region now and for decades to come.”

The rate proposal also includes strategic management of the Water Authority debt portfolio resulting in $130 million in net present value savings from several refundings.

The 2023 rate proposal ensures debt-coverage ratios that maintain the Water Authority’s strong credit ratings and minimize the cost of borrowing money for construction projects. This approach saves ratepayers money over the long run. The Water Authority has senior lien credit ratings of AAA from Standard & Poor’s, AA+ from Fitch ratings, and Aa2 from Moody’s.

For more information about the Water Authority’s proposed 2023 rates, go to the May Board packet starting on page 215.

California Reservoir, With Estimated $3.9B Cost, Gains Funding Approval

California is taking steps toward a 2024 start of construction on the 1.5-million-acre-feet Sites Reservoir thanks to new funding.

The California Water Commission in December determined the Sites Reservoir, located on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, is eligible for funding through the state’s 2014 voter-approved Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Program, thereby opening access to $800 million, about 20% of the project’s $3.93 billion price tag.

John Carroll worked as the senior wastewater operations supervisor of the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where he oversaw the operation of the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility. Photo: City of San Diego Pure Water San Diego

National Awards for Pure Water San Diego’s John Carroll

John Carroll, the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Treatment Plant superintendent, received the 2021 Robert O. Vernon Membrane Plant Operator of the Year Award from the American Membrane Technology Association and the American Water Works Association.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to water supply improvement by an individual working at a membrane filtration, desalination, and/or water reuse facility. Carroll was selected in recognition of his service and dedication to membrane operations and for his leadership within the industry.

“My selection would not have been possible without the support of many dedicated and talented individuals, the fellow coworkers, consultants, and volunteers to whom I owe all my success,” said Carroll.

Carroll plays key role in Pure Water Demonstration Facility

John Carroll will become Pure Water San Diego's first superintendent. Photo: City of San Diego

John Carroll will become Pure Water San Diego’s first superintendent when it is completed. Photo: City of San Diego

Carroll worked as the senior wastewater operations supervisor of the North City Water Reclamation Plant, where he oversaw the operation of the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility.

“When Pure Water came along, we needed staff to step up,” said Tom Rosales, Assistant Director for the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “John established protocols and procedures. He participated in training incoming staff. He led public tours. I can’t overstate his involvement from day one.”

From student to teacher

“Since I had no operational experience with Advanced Water Treatment technologies prior to my role at the City’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility, my approach was that of a student, with the caveat of knowing I would need to become a teacher out of necessity to build our internal knowledge,” said Carroll.

In July, Carroll was promoted to be the first superintendent of the North City Pure Water Facility, currently under construction. It is the latest step in a career that started with a part-time job in the City’s Lakes Division. He studied water and wastewater treatment at Palomar College and completed the Water Authority’s Regional Water/Wastewater Internship Program in 2009, launching his career with the City of San Diego in plant operations.

“The encouraging and supportive public servants I’ve met throughout my career continue to add to my sense of community here,” said Carroll. “Ultimately, I like to think I am following in my mother’s footsteps who worked at the City’s Otay Water Treatment Plant.”

National award recognizes Pure Water San Diego

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

Each year, AMTA confers multiple awards to recognize exceptional individuals and organizations like John Carroll and Pure Water San Diego for their efforts in advancing the understanding and application of membrane technology to create cost-effective and reliable water treatment solutions.

“This is a national award,” noted Rosales. “John’s peers and others agree that he’s deserving of this award. You want someone like John to be on your team to stand it up and lead it.”

“Membrane technology continues to make considerable advances in creating safe, affordable and reliable water treatment solutions because of industry innovators and a dedicated network of forward-thinking membrane professionals,” said Jill Miller, AMTA President.

The award is named after the late Dr. Vernon, a professional geologist who contributed to water resources management at various levels of state and federal government in Florida and who was a former president of the American Water Works Association.

This year’s winners were announced at the 2021 Membrane Technology Conference hosted in West Palm Beach, Florida in July.

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

Fallbrook PUD recently completed the annual painting of Rattlesnake Tank to salute the Class of 2022. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

Class of 2022 Cheers New FPUD Rattlesnake Tank Artwork

Although the Fallbrook Public Utility District water storage tank uphill from South Mission Road has received a fresh set of painted numbers annually for 35 years, this week’s update was the most anticipated makeover ever.

FPUD crews change the painted numbers on the tank to reflect the year incoming seniors will graduate at Fallbrook High School. A three-person team made up of district employees Matt Lian, Colter Shannon, and Toby Stoneburner recently painted over the “21,” changing it to “22” to welcome the graduating class of 2022.

It took the team five hours to paint the 25-foot-tall numbers onto the 3.6 million-gallon tank, compressed through the magic of time-lapse video to under 30 seconds.

“Parents and Fallbrook High seniors anxiously await the painting of the tank and begin calling the office early in June to find out when we’re doing it,” said Noelle Denke, FPUD public affairs officer. “This year, it’s especially exciting for them because they’re going back to campus and need something to look forward to.”

The reason for the annual external makeover dates back 35 years. Before the district started painting the tank, Fallbrook High seniors took on a longstanding dare. They would climb up the hill in the middle of the night, scale the tank and then paint it themselves.

Since it’s a long way down, FPUD staff became concerned for student safety. Workers installed a fence at the time to prevent access by the annual stealth painting crew.

But it didn’t deter the energetic students. Instead, they just began jumping the fence in the middle of the night. So district officials struck a deal with the students. If they would stop risking their safety for the dare, FPUD would safely paint the tank every year to commemorate them.

A 25-foot salute to Fallbrook High’s graduating seniors   

The annual painting for the Class of 2022 began due to safety concerns. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

The annual painting for the Class of 2022 began due to safety concerns. Photo: Fallbrook PUD

“We’ve been doing it ever since,” said Denke.

Since the tank shares the space with several cell towers, Fallbrook Public Utility District makes arrangements to power down their towers. Then crews safely hoist themselves up to the tower and get to work painting.

Rattlesnake Tank was built in the early 1950s and is one of Fallbrook’s oldest and most visible water tanks.

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

Pure Water Oceanside-Potable Reuse-Sustainability Sustainble Building Week

SD Sustainable Building Week Features Water Reuse Projects

Representatives from three potable reuse projects under development in San Diego County will provide project updates during the inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego” at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13.

Hosted by the San Diego Green Building Council, Sustainable Building Week offers free virtual events from April 12 – 16 addressing sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building. All events are free and open to the public.

Sustainable Building Week and potable reuse

The San Diego County Water Authority hosts and moderates a panel titled “Potable Reuse: New Local Sources  of High-Quality Drinking Water for  San Diego County.” Potable reuse will provide a new source of safe, high-quality drinking water in San Diego County. Projects will create a local supply that is sustainable, drought-resilient, and benefits the environment. Additional sources of local water supply will also help prepare the region for future droughts and a changing climate.

Financially competitive and environmentally responsible

Helix Water District's R.M Levy Water Treatment Plant

Purified water from the East County Advanced Water Purification Project will undergo additional processing at Helix Water District’s R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant after being be piped into the district’s Lake Jennings reservoir. Photo: Helix Water District

Attendees to the free virtual presentation will hear the latest updates on three San Diego County potable reuse projects currently under development. The presenters will describe how the potable reuse process purifies recycled water; reduces reliance on imported water; and is financially competitive and environmentally responsible.

Panelists include:

Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, has been working towards meeting the Oceanside City Council’s goal of 50% local water supply development by the year 2030, a goal which will be achieved in part by the implementation of Pure Water Oceanside.

John Stufflebean, Assistant Director, Water Utilities Department, City of San Diego, currently the Assistant Director for the Pure Water and Technical Services Branch. Pure Water San Diego is the $5 billion project designed to generate nearly one-half of San Diego’s water demand from purified wastewater.

Kyle Swanson, Director of Advanced Water Purification, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, provides leadership and guidance in the design and implementation of the East County Advanced Water Purification Project.  He has over 20 years of experience in water-related industries and is a licensed distribution and treatment operator and certified public manager.

Moderating the program is Lesley Dobalian, Principal Water Resources Specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority.

Registration to attend the program is free. Attendees can RSVP and receive a link for the presentation on the SDGBC Sustainable Building Week website.

Mayor Gloria Announces City on Track to Develop 50% of its Water Locally

As part of his efforts to create a more sustainable future for all of us, Mayor Todd Gloria today publicly released a new analysis of San Diego’s future water needs that indicates that the City will develop more than 50% of its water locally by 2045, in large part due to the Pure Water recycling program. This will be a dramatic increase in local water supply, which currently requires the City to purchase 85% to 90% of its water from imported sources.

The Miramar Reservoir dam under construction in 1960. The reservoir marks its 60th anniversary i 2020. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

Miramar Reservoir Marks 60 Years of Service

For 60 years, Miramar Reservoir has been an integral part of the City of San Diego’s drinking water system and offers San Diegans a popular recreational area. Now, the reservoir is being called into service to play a vital part in San Diego’s future Pure Water system to sustain a reliable water supply.

The City of San Diego is commemorating the 60th anniversary of Miramar Reservoir, its role in the region’s history, and the part the reservoir will play in the future.

“We celebrate not only Miramar Reservoir’s past, but the critical role it will play when the Pure Water system is completed,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the San Diego Public Utilities Department. “Miramar Reservoir will continue to be a key part of our water system for many years to come.”

Role in San Diego’s history

An aerial view of the Miramar Reservoir under construction in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

An aerial view of the Miramar Reservoir under construction in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek/City of San Diego

Miramar Reservoir marks 60

Miramar was the last of the City’s nine reservoirs to be developed. It was completed in 1960 as part of the second San Diego Aqueduct. The location previously had been the site of a small reservoir serving the vast ranch of newspaper publisher Edward W. Scripps.

Water flowing south to the reservoir originates from both the Colorado River Aqueduct and the California Aqueduct. The earthen embankment dam has a maximum height of 165 feet measured from the downstream toe, and has a base of 1,180 feet.

Dignitaries attend the Miramar Reservoir dedication ceremony in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek, City of San Diego

Dignitaries attend the Miramar Reservoir dedication ceremony in 1960. Photo: Jeff Pasek/City of San Diego

It was constructed by contractors Einer Brothers Inc. of Escondido and McCammon Construction, for $1.42 million. Land acquisition and engineering costs were approximately $730,000. Funds for the project came from an $11 million water bond approved by San Diego voters in June 1958.

When full, the reservoir covers 274 surface acres, reaches a maximum water depth of 114 feet, and has four miles of shoreline. Miramar Reservoir has a water storage capacity of 6,682 acre-feet.

Miramar Water Treatment Plant, which was completed in 1962 at a cost of $3.5 million, and expanded and upgraded in 2010, treats and filters drinking water distributed to customers in the northern part of San Diego.

Since the mid-1960s, the reservoir has been a popular recreational destination. An estimated 100,000 people visit Miramar each year to enjoy jogging, walking, biking, fishing, boating, picnicking, among other activities.

Miramar Reservoir to become part of Pure Water San Diego

Today in 2020, the Miramar Reservoir is poised to play a key role in the Pure Water San Diego project. Photo: City of San Diego

The Miramar Reservoir is poised to play a key role in the Pure Water San Diego project. Photo: City of San Diego

When the Pure Water system comes online, Miramar Reservoir will switch from holding imported water to holding purified water received through a pipeline from the planned North City Pure Water Facility. After water has been purified at the North City Pure Water Facility, it will then be transferred via pipeline to Miramar Reservoir. The Miramar Water Treatment Plant will clean the water again, and the water will be distributed to homes and businesses throughout northern San Diego.

Miramar Reservoir will continue use into the foreseeable future as it helps provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by the end of 2035.

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 virtualtour.purewatersd.org More information about the Program can be found at www.purewatersd.org.

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.