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Lawsuit Alleges Water Authority Failed to Deliver Desalinated Water to San Marcos

The Vallecitos Water District in San Marcos filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging the San Diego County Water Authority overcharged by nearly $6 million for desalinated water that was never delivered, despite an agreement to construct a pipeline for that exact purpose.

Vallecitos WD Uses Innovative Technology to Monitor Water Quality

The Vallecitos Water District is known for its sustainable practices in water and wastewater treatment processes, without any compromise in water quality. The district is now using a new ultrasound technology to address water quality at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir with a reduced need for chemical treatment. Mahr Reservoir was completed in 1981. Originally called La Costa Storage No. 1 Dam and Reservoir, it was renamed after the district’s original founder 35-year board member Stanley A. Mahr.

LG Sonic’s specific low power ultrasonic transmitters emit signals which are not harmful to people, fish, plants or other wildlife. Photo: Vallecitos Water District water quality

Vallecitos WD Uses Innovative Technology to Monitor Water Quality

The Vallecitos Water District is known for its sustainable practices in water and wastewater treatment processes, without any compromise in water quality. The district is now using a new ultrasound technology to address water quality at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir with a reduced need for chemical treatment.

The Mahr Reservoir stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Mahr Reservoir stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Mahr Reservoir was completed in 1981. Originally called La Costa Storage No. 1 Dam and Reservoir, it was renamed after the district’s original founder 35-year board member Stanley A. Mahr. It stores up to 54 million gallons of reclaimed water to be used later for irrigation. The district has contracts with the City of Carlsbad and Olivenhain Municipal Water District to provide water as needed, as much as five million gallons of recycled water daily.

Because the reservoir’s location receives intense sunlight with little rain, algal blooms can occur in the nutrient-rich recycled water. The most common method of treating algal blooms is with harmful chemicals. They are costly and labor-intensive.

The district instead uses technology developed by the international company LG Sonic, which provides a complete overview of the water quality allowing swift identification and treatment of algal blooms.

New ultrasound technology reduces cost and environmental harm

NOTE: Portions of this video were filmed in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and any mandatory face covering requirements.

Every 10 minutes, an MPC Buoy in the Mahr Reservoir measures and monitors green and blue-green algae population, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and water temperature. The data is collected in real time and uploaded to a web-based software. The software uses the data to predict algal blooms three to ten days in advance.

The LG Sonic buoy can create a sound barrier in the top water layer, which affects the buoyancy of the algae, preventing it from rising up where it can absorb sunlight for photosynthesis to grow. Without sunlight and nutrients, algae cells sink to deeper water where they degrade due to natural bacteria and do not release toxins into the water.

With overall algae levels reduced by this technology, the need for chemical treatment is also reduced, allowing the Vallecitos Water District to provide high quality reclaimed water to its customers.

LG Sonic’s specific low power ultrasonic transmitters emit signals which are not harmful to people, fish, plants or other wildlife.

Divers lend a hand at Mahr Reservoir

Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator II Ivan Murguia monitors water quality. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Meadowlark Water Reclamation Facility Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator II Ivan Murguia monitors water quality. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

After the initial installation, an unusual incident occurred. Electrical cords providing power to the reservoir’s water pumps became wrapped around the inlet/outlet pipes located underwater. Mahr’s algae meter needs water flow from the reservoir to be able to read the algae level.

Maintenance staff couldn’t untangle the power cords from above the water. Specialty divers were called in to address the problem. Vallecitos Pump and Motor Technician Dale Austin also had divers inspect pneumatic (air) and hydraulic (oil) lines to the motors (actuators) that open and close the inlet and outlet valves for leaks. Divers successfully untangled the electrical cords and they were secured to prevent future problems. Divers found no leaks on the lines.

 

 

 

Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Best Safety Practices

Vallecitos Water District was among 16 California water agencies honored by the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority with the H.R. LaBounty Safety Award.

Vallecitos won its award for its Confined Space Rescue Training coordinated with several regional fire agencies in November 2019.

A firefighter prepares to access the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Recognized for Best Safety Practices

Vallecitos Water District was among 16 California water agencies honored by the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority with the H.R. LaBounty Safety Award.

Vallecitos won its award for its Confined Space Rescue Training coordinated with several regional fire agencies in November 2019.

Vallecitos Water District wanted to heighten safety awareness and improve procedures in its confined space entry and rescue during real-world situations. It took on a high level of coordination to bring in fire department personnel to conduct 12 days of joint training.

Firefighters are briefed on scene at the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District safety practices

Firefighters are briefed on scene at the Meadowlark Reclamation Facility as part of confined space training drills conducted with the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

As a result of training, personnel were able to reduce potential hazards conducting entry into confined spaces, perform personnel rescues, and better manage hazardous materials present (gaseous chlorine).

“Because of our program, Vallecitos Water District and fire department personnel were able to increase interoperability and familiarity of each others’ technical rescue equipment,” said Trisha Woolslayer, risk management supervisor.

Safety award promotes safe water workplace practices

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Dawn McDougle, Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Matt Wiese, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators II Chris Deering, Ivan Murguia, Arturo Sanchez, and Marc Smith, Safety Technician Anette Longville, and Public Information Officer Alicia Yerman were recognized for their roles in organizing and conducting the training. All 13 members of the Vallecitos Water District Wastewater Collection System Crew participated in the training.

Fire department crews participating were from the cities of Carlsbad, San Marcos, Del Mar, Vista, Escondido, Oceanside, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Valley Center, and crews from North County Fire (Fallbrook), San Pasqual, Rincon, and Camp Pendleton.

The H.R. LaBounty Safety Award Program is designed for all JPIA members as a way to promote safe workplace behavior and operations practices while rewarding those employees who demonstrate safe behavior, take part in recognizable proactive activities, or participate in risk-reducing actions. It gives members another way to foster a safety culture that reduces the potential for losses.

The Ramona Municipal Water District and the Sweetwater Authority were also recognized among state water agencies for their safety initiatives.

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Community Outreach Makes Challenging Infrastructure Update a ‘Walk in the Park’

In its efforts to maintain its critical infrastructure, the Vallecitos Water District undertook a challenging update to a wastewater system pipeline constrained by its precarious location.

Construction near San Marcos homes required creative thinking and community cooperation from the Vallecitos Water District to successfully complete the project. infrastructure

Community Outreach Makes Challenging Infrastructure Update a ‘Walk in the Park’

In its efforts to maintain its critical infrastructure, the Vallecitos Water District undertook a challenging update to a wastewater system pipeline constrained by its precarious location.

The existing eight-inch gravity sewer pipeline conveys wastewater from the intersection of Rock Springs Road and Bennett Avenue west through a greenbelt area to an existing 12-inch pipeline in Rock Springs Road at Lancer Park Avenue. To expand capacity for current and future growth, it was replaced with a new 15-inch PVC pipe west of Matthew Lane and a 12-inch PVC pipe north and east of Matthew Lane.

See video following the progress of this vital infrastructure project

 

Complications due to environmental and neighborhood protection

The location of the affected manhole put equipment and crews close to a SDG&E gas line inside a greenbelt park area. Photo: Vallecitos WD infrastructure

The location of the affected manhole put equipment and crews close to a SDG&E gas line inside a greenbelt park area. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The District always prefers to perform work in a street or public right-of-way. Neither were possible for this project due to its greenbelt and park location within feet of residential homes.

“We took every environmental precaution prior to construction,” said Lito Santos, Vallecitos Water District Project Engineer. “We performed a nesting survey, a raptor survey, and we also worked to tunnel under the bridge,” within the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clear Water Rule.”

San Marcos Woods Homeowners Association board member Ross Fisher acted as a liaison between homeowners and the HOA with the District. Fisher expressed concern about access to the work area by the District’s large combination truck. The original proposal to create a concrete strip to drive over wasn’t feasible.

Due to its incredible strength, the grass-crete and existing lawns can handle the weight of a large service vehicle driving on it without significant damage. Photo: Vallecitos WD

Due to its incredible strength, the grass-crete and existing lawns can handle the weight of a large service vehicle driving on it without significant damage. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Working together with Vallecitos Water District engineers, the group chose an alternative material called “grass-crete.” Grass-crete is a green porous paving solution that comes in easy-to-install rolls. It’s flexible, lightweight, durable and provides design versatility to the project. Due to its incredible strength, the grass-crete and existing lawns can handle the weight of a large service vehicle driving on it without significant damage.

Proximity to additional threats

Manholes were waterproofed, coated, and sealed as an additional precaution and to extend their longevity.

Manholes were waterproofed, coated, and sealed as an additional precaution and to extend their longevity. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District engineers also worked with San Diego Gas & Electric to perform its work with enough safety clearance from a 16-inch transmission main artery gas line pressurized at 800 pounds per square inch. The District secured permission to dig within two to three feet from the line instead of the standard five feet.

The work area is also prone to flooding after large rain events, raising the water levels in the nearby creek high enough to infiltrate and inflow into the manholes. The District moved the manholes clear of the creek embankment, and lifted the manholes two feet above ground and clear of the flood plain to prevent runoff intrusion. Manholes were waterproofed, coated, and sealed as an additional precaution and to extend their longevity.

Homeowners praise Vallecitos cooperation with community

 The District moved the manholes clear of the creek embankment, and lifted the manholes two feet above ground and clear of the flood plain to prevent runoff intrusion.

The District moved the manholes clear of the creek embankment, and lifted the manholes two feet above ground and clear of the flood plain to prevent runoff intrusion. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“Overall Vallecitos left the greenbelt area as good or better when they started,” said Fisher of the HOA. “On a scale of one to ten, I have to give them a 9.5 or a ten. Working with the inspectors and Lito Santos the engineer, everything we asked for was done in a timely manner.”

“The project was a huge success,” said Santos. “Working with the Vallecitos Engineering Team, the Inspection Team and Mr. Fischer, it was not just a Vallecitos highlight but a career highlight.”

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Water Districts Work Together to Save Ratepayers Money

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District and Vallecitos Water District have entered into an agreement that will allow for cooperative use of Vallecitos’ Double Peak Reservoir site in San Marcos. The arrangement is expected to save OMWD ratepayers over $100,000.

Panelists Set to Explain Laws Limiting Water Consumption

Panelists from several water districts will give updates on new laws affecting water consumption in California during an American Liberty Forum of Ramona event set for Saturday, June 27.

The free forum on Water Regulations Today and Tomorrow will be held at Ramona Mainstage, 626 Main St. Doors open at 11 a.m. and a video program starts at 11:30 a.m.

The focus will be on Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668.

SB 606 is in response to mandates that California achieve a 20 percent reduction in urban per capita water use by Dec. 31, 2020. Existing law requires each urban retail water supplier to develop urban water use targets and an interim urban water use target.

AB 1668 would require the state Water Resources Control Board to adopt long-term standards for the efficient use of water and would establish specified standards for per capita daily indoor residential water use.

Vallecitos Water District Crews Rehab Manhole, Protecting Environment

Vallecitos Water District crews sprang into action to repair and rehabilitate a manhole in danger of failing, successfully preventing a spill, which could have resulted in significant environmental damage.

Located just off Palomar Airport Road in a shared 30-foot easement with the Buena Sanitation District in Carlsbad, the manhole is part of a 30-inch outfall providing a main sewage drain for the City of San Marcos. The line feeds directly into the Encinas Wastewater Treatment plant a half-mile from the project site.