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Working with Hoch Consulting, the Vallecitos Water District inspection project will take place through June. Photo: Vallecitos Water Distict

Vallecitos Water District Taps Tech for Pipeline Inspection

The Vallecitos Water District is using a specialized camera and sonar to evaluate the condition of a sewer pipeline between San Marcos and Carlsbad.

The Land Outfall West pipeline is a large sewer line that stretches from El Camino Real to the Encina Water Pollution Control Facility in Carlsbad. Originally installed in 1986, an evaluation of the pipeline’s current condition using closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras and sonar will help the District identify and prioritize its ongoing pipeline renewal and maintenance activities.

Inspections help ensure system reliability

Field teams begin the inspection process, which is taking place at night to minimize disruption. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Field teams begin the inspection process, which is taking place at night to minimize disruption. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The pipeline ranges in size from 24-inches to 54-inches in diameter and is approximately 3.2 miles long. Project Manager Susan Bowman said today’s technology allows the District to perform thorough inspections without digging up streets and disrupting neighborhoods.

“We want to make sure the pipeline is still in good shape,” explained Bowman, who is the District’s asset management supervisor. “We’re going to be taking a look at the inside of the pipe using an advanced CCTV tool. It looks at all of the insides of the pipeline and identifies any flaws or maintenance issues that may need to be addressed.”

Bowman said the District regularly inspects manholes and performs routine inspection activities. Using cameras and sonar will provide more detailed information to help the District plan ongoing maintenance and repair to ensure the pipeline will continue to perform well.

District staff, consulting staff, pipeline inspectors, and environmental inspectors will be onsite during the work. Work started at the east end of the pipeline in Carlsbad, and will follow along Palomar Airport Road under Interstate 5, and end at the Encina Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Cost-effective and less disruptive

Map showing the 3.2 mile stretch of Vallectios Water District pipeline undergoing inspection in June. Photo: Vallecitos Water Diatrict

Map showing the 3.2 mile stretch of Vallecitos Water District pipeline undergoing inspection in June. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

To minimize traffic impacts and to take advantage of lower flow levels, all work is scheduled at night between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and will occur on weekdays through June 18. Bowman said most of the work should have limited impact on businesses and residents in the area, with minor compressor noise and limited street blocking along Palomar Airport Road.

Pipeline inspections tap tech

“We want to be good neighbors,” said Bowman. “But it is critical to ensure a pipeline is performing well, it is safe, and it is able to continue to do its job. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure the District’s assets are performing well. The technologies have really improved in the last 15 to 20 years.”

Previously, the only way to inspect a pipeline was to take it out of service and dig it up.

“If you’re going to dig something up to see what shape it’s in, you might as well be replacing it,” said Bowman. “We are definitely looking at a lot of these different noninvasive type of technologies. It helps the system perform better by reducing unplanned emergencies which are disruptive to all of us.”

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

EPA Funding-East County AWP-Padre Dam MWD

EPA Funding Secured for East County Drinking Water Project

In a major milestone for water reliability, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program was awarded a $388 million federal loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help advance the project’s completion.

Radhika Fox, U.S. EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, joined Kyle Swanson, Director of the East County AWP, and Steve Goble, Joint Powers Authority Chair of the East County AWP, for the June 4 announcement at the demonstration facility for the project in Santee. Following the presentation, Fox joined local officials for a tour of the demonstration facility.

“EPA is proud to partner on this project, which uses proven technology to bolster drinking water supplies in this climate-stressed region,” said Fox. “Investing in water infrastructure is one of the best bets we can make to improve public health and the environment, create jobs and address pressing challenges that face our communities.”

Radhika Fox (left), EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, and Kyle Swanson, East County AWP Director. Photo: East County AWP EPA Funding

Radhika Fox (right), EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, and Kyle Swanson, East County AWP Director. Photo: East County AWP

The East County AWP is one of only 38 projects selected nationwide to receive a share of approximately $6 billion in federal water infrastructure investments. The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan is the second-largest loan awarded to any San Diego County project.

“The East County Advanced Water Purification Program is the result of many years of strategic, long-term planning and this WIFIA loan marks a historic milestone in its development,” said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “By providing East County with local control and independence of both its wastewater and water, the program secures a long-term solution for increased stability in our communities and safeguards the vitality of our economy and quality of life. We are grateful to the U.S. EPA for partnering with us on this important program and investing in future generations.”

New, local, sustainable water supply 

Radhika Fox of the EPA tours the East County Advanced Water Project Demonstration Facility in Santee. Photo: East County AWP EPA Funding

Radhika Fox of the EPA tours the East County Advanced Water Project Demonstration Facility in Santee. Photo: East County AWP

The East County AWP is a collaborative partnership between the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, County of San Diego, and City of El Cajon. It will create a new, local, and sustainable drinking water supply using sophisticated technology to provide 30% of current drinking water demands for East County residents when it is completed in 2025, as much as 11.5 million gallons per day.

The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally and purify the recycled water at a new 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.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District currently imports 100% of its drinking water supply. The agency treats two million gallons per day at its water recycling facility for irrigation and non-potable uses. Helix Water District imports approximately 85% of its drinking water supply with the remaining coming from local sources.

In addition to providing a new local water supply, the project will eliminate the need to send most of East County’s wastewater to the City of San Diego’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it is currently treated and then discharged into the ocean. Keeping this water resource in east county provides water sustainability and it’s good for the environment.

(Editor’s note: The Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, and the City of El Cajon are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Vallecitos Water District-Interceptor-Pipeline-infrastructure

San Marcos Interceptor Project Ready for Phase 2 Summer Start 

The San Marcos Interceptor Replacement Project remains on schedule, with Phases 1 and 1A completed according to the Vallecitos Water District. The project replaces the District’s 1960s era 21-inch diameter sewer interceptor with more than 12,000-feet of 42-inch diameter sewer pipeline between Twin Oaks Valley Road and Pacific Street.

The Interceptor is a large trunk sewer pipeline receiving and conveying wastewater by gravity to the Encina Wastewater Authority. In Phases 1 and 1A of the project between 2002 and 2014, portions behind the Creekside Marketplace from State Route 78 to Grand Avenue, from Twin Oaks Valley Road to east of Johnston Lane, from Grand Avenue to Via Vera Cruz, and east of Johnson Lane to the south side of State Route 78 were completed.

Phase 2 will complete the remaining 3,400-feet of the westernmost project corridor extending from Via Vera Cruz to Pacific Street. The project budget is $8.5 million. The completion of Phase 2 of the Interceptor project has been in the works for more than 30 years, with the project exchanging numerous hands in planning, design, and construction.

“This is a milestone project for the District both in size and significance,” said Ryan Morgan, capital facilities senior engineer.

State of the art construction technology

Microtunneling made it possible for the Vallecitos Water District to successfully complete the project in under a week with no damage to the existing utilities while also minimizing traffic impacts at San Marcos Boulevard and Pacific Street. Photo: Vallecitos Water District San Marcos Interceptor

Microtunneling made it possible for the Vallecitos Water District to successfully complete the project in under a week with no damage to the existing utilities while also minimizing traffic impacts at San Marcos Boulevard and Pacific Street. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The project used state-of-the-art trenchless technology to install a 115-ft long tunnel under an existing concrete culvert under the Pacific Street and San Marcos Boulevard intersection. The 42-inch diameter fiberglass reinforced plastic Interceptor sewer was installed inside a 60-inch diameter steel casing pipe.

Using a process known as “microtunneling,” contractor TC Construction and sub-consultant JW Fowler used a MicroTunnel Boring Machine (MTBM) inside an excavation in the eastbound lanes of San Marcos Boulevard and be received in a smaller excavation in the westbound lanes of San Marcos Boulevard at Pacific Street.

The MTBM is larger than 60-inches in diameter to be large enough to bore through native soils, rock, and backfill along the Interceptor alignment. The new tunnel’s wall is pressurized internally using hydraulic fluids before the steel casing is permanently installed. The MTBM is remote-controlled by an operator on the surface and is laser-guided to ensure it stays within the designed horizontal and vertical alignment (line and grade).

The MTBM’s high level of accuracy makes it especially useful when a project needs to avoid conflicts with existing underground utility lines, including a 16-inch diameter high-pressure San Diego Gas & Electric gas line in this project. The microtunnel installation was a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week process.

The microtunnel allowed the District to “thread the needle,” and the tunnel was completed in under a week (plus setup). There was no damage to any of the existing utilities in San Marcos Boulevard, and traffic impacts were minimized.

Project completion nearing this summer

The San Marcos Interceptor project required special mitigating measures and biological monitoring for construction during bird nesting season between February 15 and September 15 along San Marcos Creek. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The San Marcos Interceptor project required special mitigating measures and biological monitoring for construction during bird nesting season between February 15 and September 15 along San Marcos Creek. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Interceptor project required biological monitors and archeological monitors for work adjacent to San Marcos Creek or predetermined environmental sensitive areas. Special mitigation measures and biological monitoring were required for construction during bird nesting season between February 15 and September 15. Additionally, tribal paleological monitors from Native American tribes of significance in the area were represented during excavation work in the creek.

The final leg of the project will begin in the easements adjacent to the creek between Via Vera Cruz and McMahr. Construction completion is expected in June 2021.

This replacement project was originally identified in the District’s 1991 Master Plan and has been phased to be completed prior to City of San Marcos development of the Creek District.

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

Pure Water San Diego is anticipated to provide 50% of the City of San Diego's water supply by 2035. Photo: Courtesy City of San Diego Water Reuse Progress

Water Reuse Projects Highlight Sustainable Building Week

Three potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region were highlighted this week during the San Diego Green Building Council’s inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego.”

The Sustainable Building Week programs focused on sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building.

The panel discussion, “Potable Reuse: New Local Sources of High-Quality Drinking Water for San Diego County,” updated the development status and future benefits of three projects: Pure Water Oceanside, Pure Water San Diego, and the East County Advanced Water Purification program. Attendees learned how the technology works and how it reduces reliance on imported water, while increasing local supply.

Multiple benefits to the environment

Panelists provided the latest updates on Pure Water San Diego, Pure Water Oceanside, and the East County Advanced Water Project. Photo: Water Authority

Panelists provided the latest updates on Pure Water San Diego, Pure Water Oceanside, and the East County Advanced Water Purification program. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“Potable reuse has multiple benefits, including sustainability and drought resilience,” said Lesley Dobalian, principal water resources specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority and the panel moderator.

Pure Water Oceanside

“Water supplies are subject to lots of vulnerabilities, including rising costs, energy consumption, natural disasters, and eco-system and environmental issues,” said Cari Dale, City of Oceanside water utilities director. “Pure Water Oceanside replicates and accelerates Nature’s natural recycling process.”

The City of Oceanside is working toward creating 50% of its water supply locally, including Pure Water Oceanside, by 2030.

Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, explained to the viewers how the process works. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

East County AWP

Kyle Swanson, director of advanced water purification with the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, said the East County Advanced Water Purification project would recycle 15 million gallons of annual wastewater discharge into a resource. Currently, wastewater from East County travels 20 miles to be discharged into the San Diego metropolitan wastewater treatment system and eventually into the Pacific Ocean.

“Redistribution of this water would meet 30% of the demand for potable water in East County,” said Swanson. “It is sustainable, uninterruptable, and competitive in costs.”

The East County AWP will produce 30% of the region’s water supply. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Pure Water San Diego

Pure Water San Diego is the $5 billion project designed to generate 83 million gallons of water per day by 2035, nearly one-half of San Diego’s water demand based on the new 2021 urban water management plan.

“That’s pretty exciting, half our water supply is from this project,” said John Stufflebean, assistant director, City of San Diego Water Utilities Department.

Phase 1 will produce 30 million gallons of water per day by 2025; Phase 2 will deliver the remaining supply.

Potable reuse will provide a new source of safe, high quality drinking water in San Diego County. This local supply is sustainable, drought resilient, and benefits the environment. It will also help prepare the region for future droughts and a changing climate.

We’re About to Drink Recycled Water But Don’t Know What’s in it

I’ve been writing a lot about the broken sewage system in Tijuana causing spills into San Diego. Part of the concern, San Diego officials told me, is that Mexico lacks a system to monitor whether businesses are dumping toxic waste into the sewer system.

That’s part of the reason why it’s risky to reuse any of that river water because, if we don’t know what’s in the water, we can’t be sure how to best treat it.

Reclaimed Water Could Be the Solution to Farming in a Drier Future

On a Saturday in late October, Carolyn Phinney is hip-deep in a half-acre of vegetables, at the nucleus of what will one day be 15 acres of productive farmland.

One California Community Shows How to Take the Waste Out of Water

Caught between climate change and multi-year droughts, California communities are tapping groundwater and siphoning surface water at unsustainable rates. As this year’s below-average rainfall accentuates the problem, a public-private partnership in the Monterey/Salinas region has created a novel water recycling program that could serve as a model for parched communities

California Falling Short on 2030 Recycled Wastewater Goals

California isn’t meeting its recycled water goals, and billions of gallons of treated wastewater are being discharged into the ocean or other water bodies each year, according to state regulators, who say drought conditions could cause future supply challenges.

Battling America’s ‘Dirty Secret’

To Catherine Coleman Flowers, this is “holy ground”: the place where her ancestors were enslaved and her parents fought for civil rights and she came of age. Here, amid the rich, dark earth and emerald farm fields, she is home.

Yet this ground also harbors a threat, one that will worsen as the planet warms.

For decades, the people of this rural county 30 miles south of Montgomery have struggled with waste. Municipal sewage systems do not extend to this farming community, and many residents cannot afford septic systems; their waste flows directly into ditches or streams. Even those with septic tanks find that they often fail in the dense, waterlogged soil. On rainy days, toilets won’t flush and foul effluent burbles up into bathtubs and sinks.

RWQCB Rescinds Waste Discharge Order for Oak Knoll Campground

The Regional Water Quality Control Board rescinded the waste discharge order for Oak Knoll Campground in Pauma Valley.