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Not Sports Podcast: San Diego Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer

Darren Smith: Joining us now in studio is San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer.

Smith: “I think some of us we just turn on the shower in the morning and we use the faucet in our home and we never give a second thought as to what it’s coming and where it’s coming from, yet you have all the answers to these questions, don’t you?”

Jim Madaffer: “People do just turn on the faucet, the garden hose and they expect water to come out but yet a lot of folks don’t realize the incredible journey those molecules took to get to that faucet and what it takes to make sure they’re being delivered safe potable quality water and that it’s always reliable and at the best price possible.”

(“Not Sports” podcast with Darren Smith and Jack Cronin is a nightly look at stories that affect San Diego and the greater Southern California region.)

Rocks and small boulders are both aesthetically pleasing and useful in your landscape. Photo: Otay Water District

Contour Your Landscape

When planning your landscape, look first at the terrain you’re working with. You can use the contours of your existing land – depressions and slopes – for guidance when planning your landscape grading. If your yard is flat, you’ll need to move soil and features around to create more rain-holding contour areas.

A soil percolation test can be very helpful in preparing your soil. You want to make it as much of a water-retaining sponge as possible before getting to work on rainwater capture plans.

NOTE: If you have existing hillsides, it’s best to get professional advice before grading or other significant changes. Before any digging, call Dig Alert 8-1-1 or visit digalert.org to be sure you won’t hit any underground utility lines.

Move water with gravity

Basins and swales are shallow depressions or channels no more than 24 inches deep on gently sloped or nearly flat landscapes. Basins and swales move water over short distances. With these contours, gravity will move water around to where you want it.

Small, shallow depressions work best in clay soil areas, while sandy soils may accommodate deeper depressions up to two feet. Channels can be planted or lined with rocks and small boulders to resemble natural creek beds.

Use rainwater to your advantage

By planning your landscape so that you don’t have low spots with no plants, you prevent wasting rainwater through runoff. You can also avoid fungus and rot from standing water. Plants in and around the depressions capture and sink small volumes of surface water so that all the rainwater you capture can be used.

Berms are mounds of raised soil, usually planted, that can border basins and swales or be used alone. They help contain and move water around, increasing the holding capacity of basins and swales.

Boulders can add points of interest and slow down water runoff in your landscaping. Boulders also are useful to retain small berms or the edges of swales.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

California Agencies Release Draft Water Resilience Portfolio

Three California state agencies today released a draft water resilience portfolio intended to help the state manage more extreme droughts and floods, aging infrastructure, declining fish populations and other challenges.

The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Food and Agriculture developed the draft to fulfill Governor Gavin Newsom’s April 29, 2019 executive order calling for a portfolio of actions to ensure the state’s long-term water resilience and ecosystem health.

“The portfolio approach to water supply reliability is a significant advance in how our most precious resource is managed statewide, in line with our long-term strategy in San Diego County,” said Sandra L. Kerl, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “As we review the details of the new plan, we will continue collaborating with the state agencies and other partners to turn this vision into a reality that benefits our region.”

Can You Fight Fires While Saving Water? Long Beach FD System Reclaims Millions of Gallons Per Year

Until recently, any time Long Beach firefighters practiced using their high-powered hoses, the water they sprayed ended up in the drain.

In any given year, that added up to millions of gallons that washed away during training exercises.

“The old way of doing training was either doing it dry or, if you really wanted to do training while flowing water, that water went directly into the gutter and was completely wasted,” Long Beach Fire Engineer Mike Shrout said.

That changed in 2018 when the Long Beach Fire Department acquired something called a Direct Recycling Apparatus Firefighter Training & Sustainability Unit, or DRAFTS Unit, for short.

Balancing Water Supply for All is 2020 Priority, California Farm Bureau Federation Says

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

Opinion: Drink More Recycled Wastewater

Drinkable water is becoming increasingly scarce. Population growth, pollution and climate change mean that more cities are being forced to search for unconventional water sources. In a growing number of places, drinking highly treated municipal wastewater, called ‘reused water’, has become the best option — and, in some cases, the only one (see ‘What is reused water?’).

Water News Network Top 3 Stories of 2019

The Water News Network’s top three stories of 2019 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and successful efforts to diversify water supply sources.

Opinion: California Can Solve its Water Shortage With the Water We Have. Here’s How

California is at a water crossroads.

We can continue our costly, 100-year-old pattern of trying to find new water supplies, or we can choose instead to focus on smarter ways of using – and reusing – what we already have.

The cheapest water is the water we save.

Top 3 WNN stories of 2019 - Water News Network

Water News Network Top 3 Stories of 2019

The Water News Network’s top three stories of 2019 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and successful efforts to diversify water supply sources.

Conservation

Colorful art created by elementary school students communicated the importance of saving water. This was the most viewed story of 2019.  

January 2019
(L to R) 2019 poster contest winners Madeleine Inawen, Claire Zhang, Kate Hu, Alanis Huang, and Weiyi Xu with their winning artwork. Photo: City of San Diego

Creative Kids Educate Region About Water Conservation

January 13, 2019

Eighteen talented San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach elementary school students used their artistic skills to communicate the importance of water conservation in the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department 18th annual Kids Poster Contest. Winning entries in the contest are featured in the 2019 Water Conservation Calendar, which debuts this month.

“The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is proud to sponsor the yearly Kids Poster Contest,” said Brian Hojnacki, a supervising management analyst for city utilities. “It allows us to involve first to sixth graders through art while learning and thinking about water conservation in our region. It’s a win-win for us all.”

The theme “How Am I A Water Conservation Hero?” asked students to imagine themselves saving water from being wasted. They could draw, paint, color, cut and paste original artwork depicting one important message about water conservation.

1st Place – Madeleine Irawan, Black Mountain Middle School

 

Sustainability

People living in the San Diego region continue to take advantage of rebate opportunities that encourage sustainability. A program that provided incentives to remove grass and replace it with sustainable landscaping proved popular in the spring. The Water News Network story about the rebates was also popular and the second-most read story of 2019.

Top 3 stories of 2019 - WNN
There are new enhanced rebates for removing turf and replacing it with sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority

 

Cash Rebates Increase for Grass Removal in San Diego Region

April 8, 2019

Removing grass can generate rebates of at least $2 per square foot for San Diego residents under new enhanced incentives that started this month.

As of April 1, the Metropolitan Water District is offering $2 per square foot for every square foot of grass removed from yards and replaced with sustainable landscaping.

“San Diego County homeowners and businesses know that sustainable landscapes are key to water reliability in our region,” said Joni German, who manages the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program. “With the help of local landscape architects and designers, our WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program gives them the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. WaterSmart landscapes are an upgrade, not a compromise.”

Infrastructure

The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $245 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility.

California officials toured some of that infrastructure in July as they worked to prepare a water resilience portfolio for the state. Our reporting on the July 18 water portfolio tour was the third most read story of 2019 on the Water News Network.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

During the water portfolio tour, state officials got a first-hand look at infrastructure, including the San Vicente Reservoir, Olivenhain Reservoir, and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego’s Water Portfolio Approach ‘Model for California’

July 18, 2019

State officials Thursday toured San Diego County water infrastructure to get a first-hand look at the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification.

California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Gibson, State Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and State Water Resources Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel were here to assess the region’s water projects as part of their new role in developing a water portfolio strategy for the state.

“San Diego has been a leader in the water portfolio approach,” said Wade Crowfoot. “We have to make the investments to build regional water resilience as part of the Governor’s order to develop a portfolio to manage water in California.”

Jim Madaffer tweet on water portfolio tour July 2019
San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer tweeted during the water portfolio tour.

Valley Center MWD Cool Valley Reservoir

Valley Center Reservoir Project ‘Exceptional’

The Valley Center Municipal Water District has been advised by the California State Water Resources Control Board that its Cool Valley Reservoir Cover Replacement Project was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency’s new AQUARIUS Program as an “Exceptional Project,” among only 10 identified as such nationwide.

Each year, EPA’s Aquarius Program recognizes one Drinking Water State Revolving Fund project from each of its 10 regions nationwide for “exceptional focus on sustainability, protection of public health” while demonstrating a high level of innovation.

The $4.2 million Cool Valley Reservoir Cover Project was nominated by the SWRCB, EPA’s state-level partner in the DWSRF Program in California.

Cool Valley Reservoir Project ‘Innovative’

Constructed in 1975 and with the original floating flexible reinforced “Hypalon” material installed in 1992, Cool Valley is Valley Center’s largest drinking water reservoir with a capacity of 57 million gallons, providing about 40% of the District’s total covered drinking water storage capacity. By 2015, the floating cover had reached its full life expectancy and started to experience failures, possibly placing the quality of the water in the reservoir at risk. 

At that point the decision was made to take the reservoir out of service and seek DWSRF financing to cover the estimated $4.2 million project cost, rather than make additional repairs to the existing liner. 

With interim adjustments to system operations and cooperation from Valley Center’s wholesale supplier, the San Diego County Water Authority, the system operated reliably with Cool Valley off-line.

‘Exceptional Project’ reduces bacteria and energy use

District engineering staff and consultants were successful in securing the 20-year loan at 1.6% interest. With the loan secured, the project was approved by the Valley Center Board in the FY 2015/2016 Budget.  The project took 12 months to complete and was back on line by mid-2017. The effort was overseen by Wally Grabbe, District Engineer and managed by Dennis Williams (retired), Deputy District Engineer. 

Projects nominated by the states must meet three major criteria, including providing Safe Drinking Water Compliance, Public Health Benefit and having Financial Integrity.  Additionally, each project must demonstrate leadership in dealing with emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure or innovative financing, affordability, water loss control, efficient water and/or energy use, creative approach to project planning and implementation, and/or creating water system partnerships.

In making the award, the SWRCB and EPA noted that the Valley Center Cool Valley Project will not only protect water quality from atmospheric vectors, but the new cover-liner will “prevent leakage from the reservoir, reduce bacteria by creating a barrier between the drinking water and the concrete liner… and reduce chemical and energy use.

During the same period of time, the Valley District designed and installed a 95kW Photovoltaic Solar Array and upgraded the Cool Valley Pump Station, all located on the Cool Valley Reservoir site.