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Butterflies and hummingbirds aren't just visually appealing; they also provide a service to your landscape by pollinating plants. Photo: GeorgeB2/Pixabay

Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Witnessing the quick burst of color that often accompanies a butterfly or hummingbird’s flight is always exciting. It’s even more exciting when you see them in your own garden. Aside from being visually appealing, butterflies and hummingbirds also provide a service to your landscape by helping to pollinate plants. In doing so, they ensure seeds for future generations of plants.

How do you attract these beautiful garden pollinators?

Colorful, tube-shaped flowers located in sunny areas will attract hummingbirds in search of nectar. In Southern California, these tiny pollinators can stay year-round with a steady food supply. To provide this supply, try selecting a variety of plants that will bloom at different intervals throughout the year.

Hummingbirds also like shrubs and trees that provide shade where they can rest or find materials to build nests. Those cool areas are also where they can hunt insects. This can be helpful to your garden as they may eat insects harmful to other plants.

Similarly, butterflies also rely on flowers that provide nectar. They need host plants, which California native plants often are, where they can lay eggs. These eggs will hatch caterpillars, which will need to feed on nearby leaves. If you are concerned about leaves with lots of holes from hungry caterpillars, try strategically placing these plants behind other plants or in the back of your garden.

A good way to plan out where to put certain plants is by mirroring native plant communities.

Some native California plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds:

  • California Fuchsia
  • Manzanitas
  • Chaparral Currant
  • Narrowleaf Milkweed
  • Sticky Monkeyflower
  • Coyote Mint

By selecting the right types of native plants, your landscape will burst into color!

The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including tips for sustainable landscaping best practices at SustainableLandscapesSD.org and free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Symposium attendees enjoy hot- and cold-brewed coffee made by locally-owned Bird Rock Coffee Roasters using purified recycled water at the at the 34th annual WateReuse Symposium in San Diego. Photo City of San Diego

WateReuse Symposium Showcases City of San Diego’s Pure Water

Locally-roasted coffee and home brewed beer made with purified recycled water from the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility was showcased Sept. 10 in San Diego during two special events at the 34th annual WateReuse Symposium.

Pure Water San Diego presented two events featuring beverages made with a key ingredient: purified recycled water.

Coffee and beer made with purified recycled water

WateReuse symposium attendees judged a “Pure Brew” competition among members of San Diego’s Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF). Photo: City of San Diego

WateReuse Association Symposium attendees judged a “Pure Brew” competition among members of San Diego’s Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity. Photo: City of San Diego

In the afternoon, symposium attendees were served hot- and cold-brewed coffee made by locally-owned Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. In the evening, a symposium reception featured a “Pure Brew” competition where attendees judged the best of 10 home brewed beers from members of San Diego’s Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity.

Pure Water San Diego is the City’s phased, multi-year program that will provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by 2035 by purifying recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. The program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego’s water needs and will provide a reliable and sustainable water supply.

The WateReuse Symposium, the nation’s premier conference on recycled water, was held in San Diego Sept. 8-11. This year’s theme was “Collaborate to Innovate.” Approximately 800 water professionals from across the nation attended the symposium over the four days.

READ MORE: Pure Water Day Delivers Pure Family Fun

 

How Much Water Do Plants Need?

It’s important to assess how much water your outdoor plants need to stay healthy. The heat and humidity in San Diego County is far from over, with the official start of Fall September 23. Irrigation needs are generally highest during these warm months.

Did you know that plants can be classified by their water needs?

Landscaping professionals use a resource called the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species, or WUCOLS, to classify plants according how much water they need to thrive.

It might sound complex, but it’s very useful because it breaks down the water requirements for each type of plant. There are four categories: Very Low, Low, Moderate, and High. These water requirements are also called Plant Factors. They are an important tool for transitioning to a more water-efficient landscape. By knowing exactly how much water your plants need, you can cut down on your water usage while also keeping your plants happy.

Calculating water requirements for outdoor plants

To calculate a Plant Factor, compare the plant’s water use to cool season grass in a given climate zone.

Why is that? Turf is among the thirstiest of all types of plants. When you replace turf areas with climate-appropriate plants with lower water requirements, and irrigate them with more efficient systems, you can greatly increase your water efficiency. You don’t have to turn your landscaping into a dry moonscape to do it.

Plant factors, or PF, categories:

Plant Factor categories from high to low water use. Graphic: Water Authority

High: Plants need from 60 to 100 percent of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of 0.6 – 1.0)

Moderate: Plants need 30 to 60 percent of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of 0.3 – 0.6)

Low: Plants need 10 to 30 percent of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of 0.1 – 0.3)

Very Low: Plants need 10 percent or less of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of less than 0.1)

Group plants by PF to irrigate more efficiently

In the Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping guidebook, plant selections are color-coded to identify their water needs under this system. That approach provides an easy way to group plants by their water requirements in your landscape, so you can irrigate more efficiently.

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

California Moves To Boost Recycled Water

A new plan recommends four strategies to advance water reuse in California over the next three decades – an important part of both the state and regional water resilience portfolio.

The California WateReuse Action Plan includes a comprehensive set of proposed actions that will more than double the use of water recycling in California and help prepare the state for the impacts of climate change, according to WateReuse California, which released the plan in July.

But getting to that goal will require several steps, including: Completing research to advance water recycling and potable reuse; developing and streamlining recycled water regulations and permitting; increasing grant and loan opportunities to expand recycled water infrastructure; and, implementing integrated regional planning.

The U.S. EPA is developing a similar plan to advance water reuse nationwide.

California WateReuse Action Plan

The California WateReuse Action Plan recommends strategies for increasing water recycling statewide. Graphic: WateReuse California

San Diego water agencies collaborate on plan

Recycled water is expected to be the next major source of local water supply for the San Diego region – and the region has a long history of working together toward that goal.

The San Diego County Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to provide feedback on the plan’s development.

“We appreciate how this new plan aims to increase water supply diversification, including recycled water,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist with the Water Authority, and a contributor to the final action plan.

“Within the next 15 years, potable reuse and recycled water is projected to make up more than a quarter of San Diego County’s supply, but reaching our potential will depend in part on statewide implementation of the plan’s key findings,” Dobalian said.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up 26% of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Water Resilience Portfolio

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San Diego, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

National water reuse action plan

At the national level, EPA is also developing a Water Reuse Action Plan, or WRAP, to advance water reuse. The Water Authority met with its member agencies and submitted comments to the U.S. EPA for the WRAP.

A draft WRAP is expected to be released by the federal agency at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-11 in San Diego.

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

WateReuse California Symposium Sept. 8-10 in San Diego

The U.S. EPA plans to release a draft Water Reuse Action Plan to advance water reuse, at the national WateReuse Association Symposium September 8-10 in San Diego.

Can Water Agencies Work Together Sustainably? – Lessons From Metropolitan Planning

It is said that, “In the US, we hate government so much that we have thousands of them.” This decentralization has advantages, but poses problems for integration. Integration is easy to say, and hard to do. Integration is especially hard, and unavoidably imperfect, for organizing common functions across different agencies with different missions and governing authorities. (Similar problems exist for organizing common functions across programs within a single agency.) Much of what is called for in California water requires greater devotion of leadership, resources, and organization to multi-agency efforts.

The 2017 Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival at The Water Conservation Garden. Photo: Water Conservation Garden

Water Conservation Garden Awarded SDG&E Environmental Champion Grant

The Water Conservation Garden’s Ms. Smarty-Plants program received a $25,000 Environmental Champion Grant in June from SDG&E.

The award comes as The Garden, at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“SDG&E has been a long-time supporter of The Garden and its innovative Ms. Smarty-Plants education program,” said Jennifer Pillsbury, executive director/CEO of The Water Conservation Garden. “In fact, SDG&E was one of the first funders to provide seed funding that allowed the program to have the widespread impact it has today. We are grateful for their support.”

Support from water agencies help fund innovative education program

Support from the San Diego County Water Authority and from several other water agencies also was critical to establishing and growing the program, which reached over 80,000 children and adults a year by 2016.

The six-acre garden is governed by an independent, nonprofit board of directors and receives funding from the San Diego County Water Authority, City of San Diego, Cuyamaca College, Helix Water District, Otay Water District and the Sweetwater Authority. Memberships, donations, grants, facility rentals and gift shop sales also support The Garden.

Conservation education program in 11th year

Water agencies created The Garden to demonstrate water conservation techniques and to provide environmental education.

“In its 11th year, the Ms. Smarty-Plants programs have touched nearly 350,000 children and adults, focusing on youth from disadvantaged communities who have limited access to safe nature spaces,” Pillsbury added.

Pam Meisner is Ms. Smarty-Plants

Pam Meisner started the conservation program in 2008 at the Water Conservation Garden. Photo: The Water Conservation Garden

Pam Meisner, also known as Ms. Smarty-Plants, started the conservation program in 2008. Meisner is a lifelong educator with more than 30 years teaching experience advocating for fun and interactive learning in nature as well as bringing conservation into the classroom.

Upcoming events at The Water Conservation Garden

  • August 23: Nature Nights with Ms. Smarty-Plants
  • August 24: Water System Consultation with Brook Sarson of CatchingH2O/H2OME
  • September 28: Backyard Composting Workshop

On November 16, The Garden is hosting a 20th anniversary concert. The event begins at 5:00 pm with a reception featuring food and drink stations, music and unique auction items.

For more information on these and other events go to:  https://thegarden.org/events/

Sometimes improving your water efficiency is as simple as changing a few old habits. Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pixabay

Indoor Water Efficiency at No Cost

There are many ways to use water more efficiently indoors, and a lot of these are completely free! You don’t have to go through the expense of replacing appliances or installing new ones to improve indoor water efficiency. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing a few old water usage habits.

Here are some easy ways to reduce water usage inside your home:

  • Use a bowl of water to help thaw frozen food. Did you know that running the tap to thaw frozen meats and vegetables could use up to 2.5 gallons per minute? Using a bowl of room temperature water instead can greatly improve your water efficiency.
  • Scrape dirty dishes first before rinsing them. Not only will this save you time at the sink, but it will also conserve up to 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water instead of running water.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it’s full. Too often people are tempted to run the dishwasher as soon as the sink is empty, but standard dishwashers can use 2-4.5 gallons of water per load.
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. This is possibly the easiest habit to change when it comes to water efficiency, and most people are already doing it.
  • Shorten showers to five minutes or less. Setting a timer on your watch or phone can help with this.
  • Use a bucket to collect water in the shower while you’re waiting for it to warm up. Then use this water to water your plants. Sometimes it can take a while for the shower to get to the right temperature before you step in. This is a perfect time to collect some clean water that can be reused around the house.
  • Wash only full loads of clothing – standard clothes washing machines can use a whopping 15-50 gallons per load. By running the washing machine only when it’s full, you can greatly improve your water efficiency.

Learn more about how to use water more efficiently indoors and outdoors this summer.

Check out WaterSmartSD.org for more resources

WaterSmartSD.org also has information about incentives for indoor and outdoor water conservation, as well as opportunities to sign up for FREE WaterSmart checkups. If you’re looking to revamp your landscaping this year, take a look at the WaterSmart landscape makeover classes for some easy ways to get started.

The winning water sample was taken directly from the Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility, the same water provided to its customers. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Bset Tasting Water Award

Sweetwater Authority Wins ‘Best Tasting Membrane Water’ Award

The Sweetwater Authority Governing Board was presented with the Southwest Membrane Operators Association (SWMOA) ‘Best Tasting Membrane Water in the Southwest Region Award’ at its July 24 board meeting.

The award recognizes the Authority’s Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility as the winner of the Best Tasting Membrane Water Competition held during the SWMOA Annual Symposium in June.

The winning water sample was taken directly from the Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility, the same water provided to its customers. Judges based their assessment on the following criteria: taste, odor, color, clarity, mouthfeel, and aftertaste.

Among the participants in the competition representing water agencies from the Southwest United States, the Authority received the highest cumulative score.

Facility provides Authority customers with one-third of their annual water supply

The Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility is a state-of-the-art groundwater desalination facility Photo: Sweetwater Authority Best Tasting Membrane Water Award

The Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility is a state-of-the-art groundwater desalination facility Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Richard A. Reynolds Desalination Facility in Chula Vista is a state-of-the-art groundwater desalination facility designed to use reverse-osmosis membrane treatment to remove dissolved salts and microscopic particles, such as bacteria and other contaminants which can be found in groundwater. The facility can produce up to 10 million gallons of drinking water per day, enough for approximately 18,000 families, and provides Authority customers with about one-third of their annual water supply.

The facility began operating in 1999 drawing brackish groundwater from five wells. That same year, the facility was honored with a San Diego Orchid award in the competition’s environmental solutions category. Its phase two expansion was completed in 2017.

The facility’s sustainable design also includes 2,950 ground-mounted solar PV panels as an alternative energy source. The solar array offsets the cost of treating water and reduces the facility’s overall carbon footprint.

The facility was previously honored with the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Project of the Year award, as well as the South County Economic Development Council’s Corky McMillin/Best of South County Award.

Among the participants in the competition representing water agencies from the Southwest region of the country, the Authority received the highest cumulative score. Photo: Sweetwater Authority Best Tasting Membrane Water Award

Among the participants in the competition representing water agencies from the Southwest region of the country,  Sweetwater Authority received the highest cumulative score. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Southwest Membrane Operator Association is an affiliate of the American Membrane Technology Association and dedicated to the Southwest United States region including, but not limited to Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah.

READ MORE: San Diego’s Farmer of the Year Taps Every Drop

Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures, so summer plant care is easy with a little planning. Photo: Annie Spratt/Pixabay

Summer Plant Care

Summer is heating up! While you’re heading to the beach or pool to cool off, your landscape might need a little help keeping cool too. Summer plant care is easy with a little planning.

Native plants

Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures if they are established before the summer begins. Avoid planting new plants, repotting, or fertilizing during the hot summer months. Fertilizing in the summer can trigger more green growth, which means an increase in water needs. During hot days, it is difficult to keep up with these needs as the soil tends to dry out more quickly.

Pruning is a great summer plant care strategy to help keep growth in check and provide pest control. Save most of the pruning for the cooler months to promote growth, but light pruning in the summer can benefit plant and tree maintenance.

Water deeply and less frequently

It might seem counterintuitive to water less frequently in the summer, but this is important for summer plant care. Watering too frequently on warmer days can cause too much water loss due to evaporation. Less frequent watering will also encourage your plants and trees to grow a network of deep roots. This will benefit them in the long term.

Protect soil with mulch

A good layer of high-quality mulch helps keep soil cool and prevents evaporation. Insulating the soil with mulch can also protect thinner roots that plants use to feed from surrounding soils. Over time, these roots will grow deeper along with less frequent watering.

Mulch is great for summer plant care, but it’s also a good investment any time of the year as it helps maintain a consistent soil moisture so you can water less.

Wait until fall to plant

Timing is important when planting new plants or trees. New plants require more water more frequently to develop their new root systems. Wait until the cooler fall months to begin planting to ensure higher rates of success.

With a little planning, summer plant care is a breeze!

The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including tips for sustainable landscaping best practices at SustainableLandscapesSD.org and free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Lake Jennings - East County Advanced Water Purification Program - Woranuch Joyce

Water Agencies Approve Funds for East County Advanced Water Purification Project

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward after a new funding agreement was approved.

The program’s partner agencies – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, Helix Water District and the County of San Diego – recently approved the Interim Funding Agreement. The final vote from the County of San Diego took place July 10.

The project is expected to begin producing water in 2025.

Purified water reduces dependence on imported water

The agreement requires each agency to commit $2.35 million ($9.4 million total) toward the program, with the aim to create a new, local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.

“This is an important milestone toward the completion of this innovative and much-needed program, said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Working together with our partners, we are moving one step closer to reducing our dependence on imported water and putting the mechanisms in place to support our economy and quality of life well into the future.”

Sustainable drinking water project

An artist's rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Gourtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District water repurification water reliability

An artist’s rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Courtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Once complete, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will generate up to 11.5 million gallons per day of new drinking water. This represents approximately 30 percent of current drinking water consumption for residents within the Padre Dam service area (Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest), and the Helix service area (including the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, and El Cajon, and the Spring Valley area). This represents approximately 373,000 residents.

The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally, and then purify the recycled water at an advanced water treatment facility using four advanced water purification steps producing water that is near-distilled in quality. The purified water will then be blended with water in Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

Industry Day planned for prospective designers and contractors

Next steps for the project include formation of a Joint Powers Authority between Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, and the County of San Diego to serve as the governing body for the program.

An industry day is being planned in mid-August to provide notice to prospective designers and contractors on the initiation of a selection process for the progressive design-build packages that will begin posting in Fall 2019.

Partner agencies also continue to pursue grant and loan opportunities to help fund the estimated $528 million project.

The water-recycling project is intended to diversify East County’s drinking water supply and reduce the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Padre Dam offers tours of the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. To schedule a tour or for more information on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, visit www.EastCountyAWP.com.

READ MORE: East County Advanced Water Purification Project On Track for 2025