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Water Agencies Assist in Fighting Valley Fire

The Sweetwater Authority and the Otay Water District collaborated with multiple agencies during the recent Valley Fire in San Diego County. Water infrastructure played a key role in the firefighting effort.

Cooperation and collaboration are critical elements during wildfires. Both water agencies worked with multiple responders, including U.S. Forest Service firefighters, CALFIRE and SDG&E, to ensure the safety of crews and keep a safe, reliable water supply flowing for their customers.

Faces of the Water Industry-San Diego County Water Authority-Water News Network

Faces of the Water Industry Highlights Water Pros, Career Opportunities

The San Diego County Water Authority, in partnership with its member agencies, has launched “Faces of the Water Industry,” a social media outreach campaign highlighting the diversity of people and careers in the region’s water and wastewater industry.

The Water Authority is featuring photos and videos from 20 employees representing nine water agencies across the region, including the Water Authority.

The Faces of the Water Industry campaign was inspired by the ACWA‘s California Water Professionals Appreciation Week, which highlights the important role of water industry professionals and local public water agencies in ensuring safe and reliable water, wastewater and recycled water operations in California.

Follow the Water Authority on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to read inspiring thoughts and stories from the region’s water and wastewater pros – the Faces of the Water Industry.

Faces of the Water Industry – Otay Water District

Theresa Kreinbring, Business Systems Analyst II at Otay Water District

“As a Business Systems Analyst, I work behind the scenes to ensure all applications are running to support the frontline staff,” said Theresa Kreinbring, Business Systems Analyst II at Otay Water District. “I want to provide the best service for them so they can better serve the community. A career in the water industry has been very rewarding. Water is our most valuable resource on earth, and I am grateful to be a part of it.” 

Faces of the Water Industry –  Sweetwater Authority

Luisa Ruiz, Senior Accountant at Sweetwater Authority

“The most rewarding aspect of my work is applying my technical skills gained over the life of my career to Sweetwater Authority’s Finance department,” said Luisa Ruiz, Senior Accountant at Sweetwater Authority. “As a Senior Accountant, I get to bring new ideas, process improvements, and lead a team to successfully provide our customers, community, and employees with exceptional reliable service in finance. It is rewarding being part of an agency whose mission is to provide our customers with safe and reliable water to a community I grew up in and am part of.” 

Faces of the Water Industry – Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Daniel Lockart, Systems Operator/Pump Technician at Padre Dam Municipal Water District

“When I first came here, I was new to the industry and I relied heavily on mentors within the district for advice and suggestions and they often used lessons learned from previous experiences to help teach me,” said Daniel Lockart, Systems Operator/Pump Technician at Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Today, I most enjoy helping train newer employees and bring them up as the next leaders in our industry.” 

Learn about career and training opportunities 

The water and wastewater industry offers vast opportunities for essential careers in engineering, operations, finance, public affairs, human resources, administration and information technology. 

The California Water Environmental Association (CWEA) is hosting two free career webinars for new and current water professionals. 

For job openings, internships and education opportunities across the San Diego region’s water and wastewater industry, go to sandiegowaterworks.org.

Opinion: One Water District is Trying to Make Sure Agriculture Cleans Up Its Own Mess

A Central California water board is poised to do something rare in American agriculture: It is trying to establish enforcement mechanisms — not just toothless regulations — to limit the use of farm fertilizers that contribute to dangerous levels of groundwater pollution. If the effort is successful, within a few decades it will have reversed or at least stopped adding to the pollution of groundwater beneath the Salinas and Santa Maria valleys.

Pumped Energy Storage-Lake Hodges-Olivenhain

Water Agencies Help Address California Energy Shortages

Water agencies across San Diego County are doing their part to stabilize the state’s power grid during this week’s heatwave by generating hydropower and altering operations to trim electricity demands – and they are offering long-term solutions to reduce future energy shortages.

The California Independent System Operator issued a statewide Flex Alert from Sunday through Wednesday, calling for reduced electricity use in the afternoon and evening to limit power outages. Blackouts could affect hundreds of thousands of San Diego County residents, if extreme heat persists.

California ISO-heatwave-energy shortage-rolling blackouts

Producing and conserving power during energy shortages

At Lake Hodges, the Water Authority is running its pumped energy storage facility to meet peak demands. As water flows down the pipeline from Olivenhain Reservoir into Lake Hodges, it generates up to 40 megawatts of energy on demand, helping to manage temporary peak electrical demands or unplanned outages. Then, the water is pumped back to Olivenhain Reservoir when power demands are low to restart the cycle.

In addition, water agencies are taking numerous actions to conserve energy. For the Water Authority, the strategy includes temporarily reducing drinking water production at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant in collaboration with Poseidon Water.

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant is the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient desalination plant in the nation, and it has produced more than 62 billion gallons of drinking water for San Diego County since it began operations in December 2015.

Starting Monday, the plant ramped down operations, making an additional 8 megawatts of power available for other uses. If more load reductions are necessary over the next several days, additional curtailment may be considered at the plant. The power provided by the plant could help offset current energy shortages.

“This partnership by the Water Authority and Poseidon is another reminder of the value of the cutting-edge technology and local control at the Carlsbad plant,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Operations are flexible and the technology is nimble, so production can be ramped up and down in response to local needs.”

Water agencies respond to energy shortages

In addition, local and regional water agencies are temporarily shutting down or reducing flows at pump stations and turning off HVAC systems in the afternoons. Some agencies also have the ability to convert to less energy-intensive treatment, for instance, by replacing ozone with chlorine.

Local water agencies also are tapping their significant backup power generation capacity – at their own expense – to ease the strain on the energy grid, following Governor Newsom’s executive order that suspends some regulatory requirements for those units during this emergency event. Local agencies are also looking to work with the administration to ensure that their backup generation capacity can be used proactively to help avoid future energy shortages.

 

Pumped Energy Storage-WNN-June 2020-graphic

Pumped energy storage facilities are part of an integrated and sustainable energy system that
includes the production, storage and distribution of clean energy.

Environmentally friendly pumped storage project proposed

Beyond the immediate concerns, this week’s heat wave has highlighted the need to increase large-scale energy storage as the state moves toward a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. Put simply, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow enough to meet demands, so the state needs more capacity to store peak renewable energy production for peak demand periods.

The Water Authority has proposed building a large-scale pumped storage project at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside. Pumped energy storage projects are designed to store excess renewable energy from solar and wind when it’s available, and then discharge that energy when energy demands increase and renewable energy is scarce.

Solutions for long-term energy challenge

A 2019 white paper highlighted the importance of pumped energy storage to California’s future.

“Our current situation is the direct result insufficient planning; the state clearly needs additional energy storage now and will need much more in the future,” said Gary Bousquet, energy program manager for the Water Authority. “Environmentally friendly pumped storage projects should be started immediately to address this shortfall, or power reliability will get significantly worse. The San Vicente project can be started now at no cost to taxpayers – users only pay when the project comes online.”

The New Water Wars

The coronavirus economic crash is tightening the financial vise on utilities that supply water and sanitation across the country, potentially putting water companies on the verge of financial insolvency while millions of Americans struggle to pay their utility bills.

In Letter To Congress, Water Agencies Call For Drinking Water Relief Funding

In March, the COVID-19 relief bill known as the CARES Act set aside $900 million to help Americans pay their utility bills. Earlier this week, a broad coalition of water agencies delivered a letter to Congress advocating for more funding. The letter, submitted Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other California Congressional delegates, argues that billions of federal dollars are still needed for water infrastructure maintenance and assistance with water bills.

Opinion: Southern California Doesn’t Have Decades to Figure Out Water Recycling. We Need it Now

The great achievement of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is that few people ever give it much thought. You turn on the faucet and the water comes out. The stuff is reliably clean and safe, and always available.

California Ranks Small Water Agencies in the County, State for Drought Vulnerability

Roy Vincent has no problem ticking off the problems he says face the little community water district that serves him in Jones Valley near Redding. The system leaks, the filtration system is old and prone to breaking down, many individual meters are antiquated and the water pumps have inadequate wiring, he said.

Industry Survey Indicates Revenue Challenges for U.S. Water Utilities

A rising number of water utilities expect that the coronavirus pandemic will result in financial repercussions. Two-thirds of water utilities say that changes in water demand and customer payments during the coronavirus pandemic will cause cash flow problems within the next two months or more.

Coronavirus: Is the Drinking Water Supply Safe?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, water agencies across the Bay Area and California are taking unprecedented steps to keep the water flowing that millions of people need for drinking and washing their hands, but which is also critical for fighting fires, serving hospitals, running sewer systems and other vital uses.