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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

How to Compost the Right Way

You can make composting on-site a goal for your sustainable landscape maintenance to reduce waste and help the soil thrive. You’ll know when the compost is ready to use when it has an earthy smell, has cooled off, and doesn’t reheat when stirred. Next, look for a uniformly dark brown or even black color. You shouldn’t be able to identify any of the original particles.

Spread compost directly on the soil surface to use it as mulch. That can prevent erosion and help plants and soil filter pollution, such as hydrocarbons and metals from road surfaces. Most greenwaste-based composts can be applied to a depth of three inches. Use up to two inches of bio-solids.

If you don’t produce your own compost on site, get it from a reputable source that guarantees high quality. Commercially produced quality can vary significantly due to the diverse nature of feedstock, processes, and maturation standards.

Use compost to make healthier soil

For native plants in your sustainable landscaping, use roughly 15 percent compost by volume to repair disturbed or damaged soils.

Clay-based soil amended with compost leads to more productive and healthy plant growth at a lower cost than amending the same soil with the necessary 45 percent sand. Therefore, you can mix poor soils that are compacted, lifeless, or subsoils with about three to six cubic yards of high quality compost per 1,000 square feet to improve the soil structure.

If your compost is based on bio-solids, it can be high in ammonium nitrogen. Use this type of compost sparingly.  When using bio-solids, be sure you know exactly where they came from.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Composting With Biosolids: What Are Biosolids And What Are They Used For https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/composting-with-biosolids.htm

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.

OPINION: Vilsack: Partnerships Needed To Promote Sustainable Practices

Testimony at a recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on solutions to climate change focused on what farmers and ranchers are already doing to lighten their impact on the environment and improve sustainability. They also stressed that solutions must be economically feasible, and that these are difficult times for producers to invest in new conservation practices. But Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and former U.S. secretary of agriculture, took the conversation to another level, pointing out the opportunities that lie in sustainable practices.

Setting Your Landscaping Objectives for Success

When you’ve taken the time to learn about the concepts behind the watershed approach to creating a healthy and sustainable landscape, you should step back and consider the goals you want to achieve in your garden.

If you’re facing an ocean of grass lawn and you’ve never given much thought to landscaping goals, it might be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few ideas.

Saying goodbye to grass

Remove a thirsty lawn without using any chemicals, in a way that preserves the healthy soil microbes.

Plant local California native plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and bees for pollination.

Create a child or pet friendly garden without thorns or sticky grass seed heads.

Plant fruit trees, edible vines and shrubs, or vegetable gardens.

Using water efficiently

Build healthy living soil that will act like a sponge, even if it rains a lot.

Capture all the rainwater from the roof and re-routing downspouts to fill rain barrels instead of running onto hardscaping.

Convert spray irrigation to micro or drip irrigation, with the intention of turning it off after establishing low-water use landscaping.

Make pathways and driveways more permeable.

Create a garden as a personal art gallery

Make room for a small patio with room for an outdoor table or seating.

Add pathways, Zen gardens, and interesting materials and patterns.

Integrate beautiful objects such as an art piece, interesting container collection, or items like sundials.

One goal we can all support: creating a beautiful sustainable landscape that reduces your water use by 70 percent or more.


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.

Alexander Schultz, Otay Water District geographic information systems technician, operates a drone in front of a district water storage tank. Photo: Otay Water District

Drones Offer Water Agencies Cost, Safety Benefits

Water agencies across San Diego County are saving time and money while improving employee safety with drones.

Industry analysts say drone use by water agencies worldwide is growing. The Helix Water District, Otay Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority have embraced the technology, using drones to inspect and monitor facilities, and to map and survey inaccessible areas.

Helix used a drone in February to check rooftop air vents on a water storage tank in El Cajon, rather than send employees high in the sky to do it. The agency determined it was too risky for employees – even with safety equipment – and too costly to have staff inspect the vents outside the 120-foot-high Fletcher Hills Combined Tank.

“We continually look for ways to utilize technologies where appropriate to minimize facility down time and to keep staff safe,” said Carlos Lugo, general manager at Helix. “Drone technology is proving to be a useful and cost-efficient way to survey and keep the district’s facilities properly maintained.”

Drones provide a safe and cost-effective alternative for inspecting the condition of storage tank vents without placing employees at risk or taking the storage tank offline. Photo: Helix Water District

Drones provide a safe and cost-effective alternative for inspecting the condition of storage tank vents without placing employees at risk or taking the storage tank offline. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix uses drones to inspect interior roof supports of its water storage tanks. The supports are especially vulnerable to corrosion because they are constantly exposed to humidity and heat.

Drone image of a roof bracket inspection. Photo: Helix Water District

Drone image of a roof bracket inspection. Photo: Helix Water District

Inspecting the storage tank roof supports requires moving 30-foot-high scaffolding from one support to the next, a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. To cut down that time, Helix used a drone to get high-resolution images of the supports. The drone images showed which ones needed repair without moving the scaffolding to each support.

A drone helps reduce the need to move scaffolding to each bracket during inspections. Photo: Helix Water District

A drone helps reduce the need to move scaffolding to each bracket during inspections. Photo: Helix Water District

“Using drones for this type of inspection work is a simple, elegant and safe solution,” said Jim Tomasulo, Helix’s director of engineering. “We anticipate using drones for this and other purposes.”

Drone inspections of reservoirs, treatment plant

The Otay Water District also is finding drones useful to save money and improve employee safety.

After a two-year study and evaluation period, the district is now using two camera-equipped drones to assist with preliminary inspections of its water facilities in eastern and southern San Diego County, including 40 potable water reservoirs, four recycled water reservoirs, 20 pump stations and a recycled water treatment plant.

Drones Reduce Risk

Countywide, the Water Authority uses drones to monitor rights of way and to survey inaccessible landscapes.

When a drone was used to get images and video of steep terrain on the Second Aqueduct west of Interstate 15 and south of the San Luis Rey River, the images were 10 times higher resolution than stock aerial images. Using the drone also kept staff from being exposed to potentially dangerous conditions.

The Water Authority is also exploring using drones for future surveys and potentially at water transportation, treatment, and storage facilities, where cutting-edge technology is used to save ratepayers money.

Drones are helping the Water Authority monitor rights of way, particularly in areas of rugged terrain.

But the potential of drone use is not limited to visual photography of elevated water tanks and surveying remote areas.  Water quality monitoring is another potential application.

Water agencies can use drones with infrared cameras “to monitor water areas remotely at higher spatial resolution than ever before, at low cost and at any time,” Michal Mazur, with Drone Powered Solutions, told Waterworld.com in a recent article about the advances in drone use.

Yuima is among the smallest water districts in the San Diego County metropolitan area, covering 13,460 acres. Its 10 largest water users are all agricultural customers, consuming approximately 70 percent of total district water deliveries annually. Photo: Yuima Municipal Water District Pauma Valley

Cooperation Preserves Pauma Valley Groundwater

Instead of waiting for Yuima Valley’s precious groundwater supplies to dry up, the Yuima Municipal Water District and local farmers are working cooperatively to create a sustainable long-term strategy for maintaining the region’s economy and quality of life by proactively managing the valley’s aquifer.

To the east in Borrego Springs, the chronically water-short community offers a warning about over-tapping groundwater. Borrego Springs expects to face a 75 percent reduction in water supplies by 2040. The current plan is to let 3,800 acres of agriculture go fallow because farms use 80 percent of the community’s groundwater.

Yuima farmers also have relied on groundwater supplies for decades. Crops such as citrus and avocado flourish in the valley, nestled between Palomar Mountain and Valley Center.

But Yuima farmers want a different kind of future than they see unfolding in other groundwater-dependent areas of arid West.

Working with growers to sustain agriculture

The Yuima Municipal Water District worked with farmers to find realistic, reliable, cost-effective strategies for his customers to keep their farms flourishing without 100 percent reliance on groundwater. Photo: Yuima Municipal Water District

The Yuima Municipal Water District worked with farmers to find realistic, reliable, cost-effective strategies for customers to keep their farms flourishing without 100 percent reliance on groundwater. Photo: Yuima Municipal Water District

Richard Williamson, general manager of the Yuima water district, is working with growers to sustain production and avoid groundwater depletion. When groundwater is pumped faster than it’s recharged, negative effects include reduced water quality, reduced surface water supplies, and land subsidence (or sinking).

“What we’ve tried to do is work on a program encouraging farmers to join our system,” Williamson said. “Many have been pumping wells on their property, and they know it will be curtailed in the future due to new laws protecting groundwater. They need to look to imported water to make up the difference.”

Yuima is among the smallest water districts in the region, covering 13,460 acres. Its 10 largest water users are all agricultural customers, consuming approximately 70 percent of total district water deliveries annually.

Facing increasing state regulations and increasingly hot summers, Williamson worked with farmers to find realistic, reliable, cost-effective strategies for his customers to keep their farms flourishing without 100 percent reliance on groundwater. Adopting a rate structure giving farmers lower pricing in exchange for flexible reliability is the key. The strategy allows the district to slow water deliveries to agricultural customers when imported water supplies are in high demand, similar to power companies offering reduced rates for interruptible service.

“There was a fair amount of discussion and education,” said Williamson. “Farming interests knew they had to come up with an alternative source of water to replace what they might not have in the future. They know it doesn’t serve anyone to draw the system down to nothing. They can look across this valley. All you see is green, citrus and horticulture being raised.”

Yuima agricultural water users try new program

Pauma Valley’s largest agricultural water user and a large avocado farm were the first to sign on. “It was a win-win situation,” said Williamson, “They still pump groundwater, but not as much as they used to. It will help everyone under the new groundwater regulations. Knowing it’s always available, they can set their watering patterns to meet the best efficiency from their water dollars as they possibly can.”

Now Yuima MWD is working to offer imported water supplies through the new program to additional farms by increasing system capacity.

“We currently have projects under way that will double our amount of imported water coming into the district,” said Williamson. “That will be done by 2020, so at that point it will coincide with these new regulations in place. We want to be ready with other agriculture interests. They are under the gun and need alternative sources of water.”

Williamson said so far, Yuima hasn’t faced water supply interruptions. “Because Pauma Valley is such a close-knit community, we will call our biggest users and warn them, ‘Things are a little tight, can you water at night or cut back watering time a little bit to get through this crunch?’ Everyone has been extremely cooperative with this idea.”

Williamson says the goal for his district is to remove the supply interruption provisions completely when capacity upgrades are completed in 2020.

“This valley is all about two things: agriculture, and Indian gaming. The tribes have indicated they don’t want to see agriculture hurt here. They feel it creates a really nice environment,” Williamson said. “This district takes a lot of pride being part of that environment. We want to be a positive influence, rather than wearing a black hat.”

 

 

 

San Diego County is home to more than 5,500 local farms and a $4.8 billion agriculture industry fueled by safe and reliable water supplies from the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. Photo: Water Authority

Farm-to-Table Event Highlights San Diego County Products

On April 25, the San Diego County Farm Bureau is bringing a one-of-a-kind tasting and education event to the famous Carlsbad Flower Fields. Up to 300 people from around the county will experience a remarkable variety of recipes and beverages, all prepared from locally sourced ingredients by some of the best chefs in the region.

San Diego leads nation in avocados, vine-ripe tomatoes

Many people don’t realize that a lot of the produce they buy at grocery stores or enjoy in local restaurants is grown right here in San Diego County. In fact, the county is home to more than 5,500 local farms and a $4.8 billion regional agriculture industry fueled by safe and reliable water supplies from the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.

Thursday’s event, called “Graze at the Fields,” is an opportunity for the community to connect with farmers. In addition to enjoying hand-crafted samples and beverages, guests will have a chance to talk with local growers and purveyors to learn about all that goes into producing the finest and freshest local farm products.

The Water Authority is sponsoring the event as part of its Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, which was created to raise awareness about the importance of safe and reliable water supplies for San Diego County’s key industries and quality of life. During April, May and June, the Water Authority is partnering with the region’s agriculture industry to highlight the local bounty that is “Brought to You by Water.”

For more information about Graze at the Fields, go to sdfarmbureau.org/graze-at-the-fields.

Share photos of your favorite San Diego County produce

Following the event, the Water Authority also will kick off a social media photo contest that will run through the month of May, to coincide with Water Awareness Month.

Between May 1-31, participants who submit a photo of their favorite locally grown vegetables, fruits, nursery plants or flowers and use the #B2UbyH2O will be entered to win prizes generously donated by local businesses and organizations, including the San Diego County Farm Bureau, Specialty Produce, and Jimbo’s…Naturally!

More information about the Brought to You by Water program and the social media contest is at b2ubyh2o.org.

San Marcos resident Jeff Moore's landscape makeover won recognition in the 2018 Landscape Makeover Contest. Photo: Water Authority

WaterSmart Landscape Contest Seeks Inspiring Entries

The 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest invites homeowners across San Diego County to share their landscaping makeovers to inspire and encourage more people to consider their own makeovers by showcasing the beauty and variety of water-efficient landscapes.

The winning landscape from each of the participating water agencies will receive a prize valued at $250 and be recognized in print and online publications. The deadline to apply is April 26. Enter the contest here: www.landscapecontest.com

Customers of these local water agencies are eligible: the City of Escondido, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, Olivenhain Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Water District, City of San Diego, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, Vista Irrigation District and California American Water.

Jeff Moore stands in his San Marcos front yard featuring his award-winning waterwise landscaping work. Photo: Water Authority

Contest rules vary with each agency, but all entries will be judged on the same criteria. Judges are looking for overall attractiveness of the landscaping including its curb appeal and whether the plants are well maintained; a design with adequate plant coverage and permeable soil able to thrive with less water; efficient methods of irrigation; and climate-appropriate plant selection with minimal turf.

Water-efficient landscaping is beautiful

Raised planter beds and a living wall are features in this award-winning Olivenhain area landscaping project. Photo: Courtesy OMWD

San Diego County residents have embraced the new WaterSmart approach to their landscaping, installing water-efficient gardens and removing thirsty turf in increasing numbers.

One of those swapping turf for sustainable landscaping is San Marcos homeowner Rhonda Holmes. She won the 2018 Vallecitos Water District Landscape District contest. Holmes transformed the landscape at her home shortly after buying it. Her outdoor remodel included replacing the front and backyard turf areas with water-efficient plants.

She designed a garden that was smart on water while being beautiful at the same time.

“It’s really easy to do,” Holmes said. “I’d love to see more people try to do their part.”

The contest aims to inspire residents to consider a landscape makeover by showcasing the beauty and variety of water-efficient landscapes.

Video of 2018 Vallecitos Water District winners

Many previous winners have taken advantage of the San Diego County Water Authority’s free WaterSmart landscape makeover classes to help them successfully create and complete their projects. More than one million square feet of turf has been targeted for removal by course participants, generating a water savings potential of 36 million gallons annually.

Interested residents can learn about the next series of Landscaping Makeover classes and register on the WaterSmartSD website.

In addition to the benefits of reducing water consumption, water-efficient landscaping can improve a home’s curb-appeal and value, and reduce the need for costly, time-consuming maintenance. Many native plant selections also have fire-resistant qualities and provide habitat for local wildlife.

Outdoor watering accounts for roughly half of statewide urban use, and more in inland areas, according to a Public Policy Institute of California report. Savings can come from installing more efficient irrigation systems and replacing thirsty lawns with less thirsty plants.

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

East County Advanced Water Purification Project on Track for 2025

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward toward its anticipated completion date after the Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors approved the required environmental report.

“The approval of the environmental report for this project brings us another step closer to producing a local water supply for East County and improving the reliability of the water service for our community,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam CEO/General Manager. “We are on track for the project to begin providing water to the East San Diego communities by 2025.”

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is a collaborative partnership between the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, County of San Diego and City of El Cajon. The partnership’s purpose is bringing a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof water supply to the East County, using state-of-the-art technology.

Advanced technology improves water reliability for East County

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. The purified water will then be pumped into Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix Levy Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

The water recycling project will help diversify East County’s drinking water supply, reducing the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA), the primary federal law in the U.S. helping to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters by addressing pollution and improving wastewater treatment. It is one of the United States’ first and most influential modern environmental laws.

Upon its completion, the East County Advanced Water Purification Project will produce up to 12,900 acre-feet per year, or 11.5 million gallons per day of new local drinking water supply.

“This project is forward-thinking, innovative and promises to give East County greater water independence and reliability,” said San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents the East County region. “It will give us more local control over our most precious resource — and that’s great news for residents and businesses.”

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.

OPINION: The Water Resource Right Outside The Window

Across most of America, the lawn sprinklers are taking their winter’s rest, but it won’t be long before billions of gallons of water start nursing thirsty turf back to life. Nationwide, the tug of war over diminishing water resources provokes challenging questions about how we should prioritize water use among competing interests like agriculture, urban consumption and the environment. These questions grow increasingly difficult as more communities realize they don’t have enough water to go around.