The popular dining deck at award-winning Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes is Park of the Year

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds named the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve its Park of the Year in the Large Park category for its guest experience and overall excellence.

The association, or ARVC, also recognized Santee Lakes as a “Plan-It Green Friendly Park of the Year” for its environmentally-friendly practices across all park operations and its commitment to sustainability. Judges make their decision based on several criteria: guest experiences, all-around excellence in operations, professionalism, marketing, customer service, and industry involvement.

Both awards were presented at the 2021 Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo. Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes.

“Despite the numerous challenges we faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Santee Lakes still managed to embrace our family-friendly camping culture and create a much-needed respite from stressors in the world,” said Koval. “As one guest said, “First campground I’ve been to in a while that feels like home.”

Santee Lakes Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water DistrictSantee Lakes Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes Park Director Laura Koval accepted the awards in person on behalf of Santee Lakes. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes “a shining star”

“The ARVC Park of the Year Awards showcase excellence at so many levels, and Santee Lakes is a shining star reaching the highest level of recognition,” said ARVC President and CEO Paul Bambei. “To win both Park of the Year and Plan-It Green Park of the Year in 2021 is quite an accomplishment, and it shows the high level of excellence Santee Lakes provides its customers, employees, and community.”

In addition to its most recent honors, Santee Lakes was also named to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s “Best 2021” reader poll in the categories Staycation Location, Scenic Spot, San Diego Attraction, Entertainment Venue, Place to Get Married, and Hiking Trail. It also won “Favorite Place” from the Santee Chamber of Commerce and San Diego’s Reader’s Poll as one of its “Favorite Places to Get Married.”

Sixty years of community recreation

Fishing remains among the favorite activities. Santee Lakes was recenty stocked with rainbow trout for the winter season. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Fishing remains among the favorite activities. Santee Lakes was recently stocked with rainbow trout for the winter season. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Santee Lakes celebrates 60 years of operation in 2021. In 1959, the Santee County Water District, now the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, initiated a then-unique project of recycling wastewater for irrigation and commercial uses. As part of the treatment process, a chain of seven individual lakes was developed. Boating and fishing were authorized in 1961, and Santee Lakes opened to the public.

Today, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve hosts over 760,000 visitors annually. The 190-acre park’s lakes are stocked with fish year-round, most recently on December 17. Other amenities include camping, cabin rentals, fishing, boating, playgrounds, walking trails, facility rentals, special events, and approximately 230 bird species.

Santee Lakes is self-sustaining

The park is owned and operated by Padre Dam Municipal Water District. However, it is self-sustaining and receives no funds from water or wastewater ratepayers. The Park operates from guest user fees, grants and awards, collaborations with community groups, and sponsorships.

“We are humbled to receive these honors, especially during the year of our 60th anniversary,” said Koval. “The staff has worked tirelessly to maintain Santee Lakes as an environmentally sustainable and premier destination. These awards will be cherished for many years to come.”

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

Tijuana River Sewage Pollution Shutters Beaches as far North as Coronado

Millions of gallons of polluted water have been regularly flowing over the border through the Tijuana River for months. The southern shoreline in Imperial Beach has been closed since November as a result.

“Things have gotten worse than ever,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. “Over the last three months, the levels of pollution are astronomical. We’ve never seen anything like it.”

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey could not immediately be reached for comment.

San Diego County Received Heavy Rain Overnight, Will Get More Tuesday

A Pacific storm that is tapping into moisture from the sub-tropics dropped substantial amounts of rain across San Diego County before dawn on Tuesday, and more showers are expected as the system shuffles off to the east, according to the National Weather Service.


Earthquake Risk Prompts Order to Drain California Dam

Worried that an earthquake could collapse a big dam south of San Francisco, officials have ordered its reservoir to be completely drained by October to reduce the risk of floodwaters spilling into Silicon Valley.

The 240-foot (73-meter) high earthen Anderson Dam, built in 1950 between San Jose and the community of Morgan Hill, poses too great a risk of collapse and must be fully drained by Oct. 1, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, the Mercury News reported.

San Diego Unified to Consider New Drinking Water Plan Proposal

School board members of the San Diego Unified School District will consider a proposal Tuesday to install filtered water outlets in schools and update standards for lead in drinking water.

The district staff’s recommendation is for San Diego Unified to remove existing drinking fountains and install approximately 2,000 drinking hydration stations district-wide, according to agenda documents.

The proposal also includes changing the district’s drinking water policy so that all drinking outlets “reduce lead in water content to below 1 ppb,” or parts per billion.

San Diego Approved $15M for Golf Course Renovations, Including Torrey Pines

San Diego approved a $15 million contract Monday for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipal golf courses, including preparations at Torrey Pines to host next year’s U.S. Open.

The City Council unanimously approved the joint contract with four separate companies that will each perform parts of the work. Individual projects are expected to cost between $250,000 and $2.5 million each.

The city’s municipal courses include the north and south courses at Torrey Pines, 18-hole and nine-hole courses at Balboa Municipal, and the lighted Mission Bay executive golf course.

Otay Water District Names New General Manager

The Otay Water District Board of Directors last week unanimously appointed Assistant Chief of Water Operations Jose Martinez as the organization’s next general manager.

Martinez, 40, will succeed Mark Watton, who represented the water interests of Otay, the county and the state for more than 30 years.

The board said it will negotiate contract terms and vote on Martinez’s salary at its March 11 board meeting. His appointment is effective March 1.

Maybe the old Lake Wohlford Dam Isn’t so bad, After All?

Plans to replace the Lake Wohlford dam are now on hold as Escondido investigates other, less expensive options because the projected cost of the project has escalated to more than $50 million.

It was nearly 13 years ago when state inspectors determined that the top quarter of the dam might liquefy in the event of a major earthquake and potentially flood eastern Escondido.

Right away, Escondido utility workers lowered the water level of the lake so that only the bottom three-quarters of the dam would be needed to hold back water. The amount of water stored in the lake was reduced by about half.

San Diego Among Nation’s Innovation Hotbeds

San Diego ranked among the top five hotbeds for innovation nationally over a 12 year period, according to a new study that suggests tech clustering has contributed to a growing economic and political divide in the country.

The Case for Growth Cities report from Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation calls for a massive federal effort to transform eight to 10 “heartland” cities into tech hubs.

Offshore Wind Still Looks To Get A Foothold In California

There may be a literal energy windfall off the coast of California but it is still unclear whether the federal government will give approval to specific sites and how long it will take before tall turbines are bobbing on the Pacific, sending electricity to customers across the Golden State.

Wind energy’s boosters are eager to see proposed projects get the go-ahead.

“Let’s get a couple of these rolling, get some floating offshore turbines out there and build this over time, which is exactly what you’re seeing on the East Coast,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.