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Opinion: A Safe and Healthy Water Supply and Our Commitment to You

Every time you turn on the tap to draw water to drink, cook or bathe, you expect that the water will be safe and healthy to use, and that’s what you should expect. That’s not true in every part of the World, or even in some parts of California, but it is true here in the Valley Center Municipal Water District service area.

We are confident in saying that our highest priority here at VCMWD is managing, monitoring and testing the water supply to ensure it meets all stringent federal and state drinking water standards.

LAFCO Report Recommends County Taking Over VC Parks

As expected, San Diego County LAFCO’s Municipal Service Review of the Valley Center Municipal Water District, Valley Center Fire Protection District and VC Parks & Rec District (which is referred to in the report as  VC Community Services District)—now available for public review—includes a recommendation that the County take over the parks district, and that the parks be put under a standalone County Service Area that would be run by the County, although with an advisory committee that would probably start with the current board of directors. 

No “Dark Water” in Valley Center

Last weekend a film called “Dark Water” opened in theaters, starring Mark Ruffalo as a corporate man who discovers that his company is responsible for putting bad chemicals into the public water supply. Predictable drama ensues.

The plot of “Dark Water” centers around the harmful human and animal health effects of PFAS and PFOS.

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.

Water District’s Investments in Independent Power Pay Off

The Valley Center Municipal Water District’s investments over the years in independent power sources paid off this week when parts of the district were cut off by San Diego Gas & Electric implementing its shutoff protocols, but all of VCMWD’s facilities stayed powered—although four large (70 kw to 400 Kw) portable power had to be brought in to power five pump stations. This involved placing one of the 150 KW units between two pump stations as needed.

“And with those investments, water/wastewater service was sustained throughout the District service area,” concluded VCMWD Gen. Mgr. Gary Arant.