Eighteen talented San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach elementary school students used their artistic skills to communicate the importance of water conservation in the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department 18th annual Kids Poster Contest. Winning entries in the contest are featured in the 2019 Water Conservation Calendar, which debuts this month. They are available free for pickup at San Diego city libraries, recreation centers, and at San Diego City Hall, 202 C Street downtown.
Fourth-graders from five Fallbrook-area elementary schools put pens, crayons and watercolors to work with the goal of creating the best and brightest water-conservation posters in competition to become part of the 2019 Fallbrook Public Utility District’s “Be Water Smart” calendar.
Two hundred posters demonstrated the students’ enthusiasm and creativity. Out of these entries, 14 were honored in the 2019 calendar.
The free calendars are available at the Fallbrook Public Utility District office, 990 E. Mission Road in Fallbrook, during business hours while supplies last.
The pupils’ colorful images vividly depict the contest’s theme, “Be Water Smart.” The district’s panel of judges viewed all the entries to find the most eye-catching artwork that successfully communicated the need for saving water.
Winners recognized at Fallbrook PUD board meeting
The winning fourth-grade artists were recognized at the Fallbrook PUD board of directors meeting on Dec. 10. In addition to being featured in the calendar, each winning artist was presented with their original artwork matted and framed for them to keep. They also received a signed certificate of commendation from the district, along with prizes such as school supplies and gift cards.
As a special award, the first-, second- and third-place student artists, plus the cover artist, received a personalized T-shirt with their winning artwork printed on it. Those artists are:
First place: America Perez Martinez, Fallbrook STEM Academy
Second place: Stephania Miranda, Maie Ellis Elementary
Third place: Hudson Quinn, Maie Ellis Elementary
Cover artist: Gabriel Velasco, La Paloma Elementary
Additional monthly winners include Magaly Maldonado, Magdaleny Caralampio, Antonio Jesus, Maria Ordonez-Rodriguez, Mariana Jimenez and America Giles of Maie Ellis Elementary; Jordyn Jones of William H. Frazier Elementary; Connor Siegler, Lexie Graves and Wendy Sanchez Hernandez of La Paloma Elementary.
The annual contest is open only to fourth-graders in the FPUD service area after they complete classroom instruction about water conservation and the water cycle. Students attending Fallbrook STEM Academy, William H. Frazier, La Paloma, Maie Ellis and Live Oak elementary schools submitted entries.
All 14 pieces of artwork will be displayed on the FPUD website. They will also be displayed in the FPUD boardroom through 2019.
The Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego has a new leader to keep it growing. Jennifer Pillsbury was hired in November to be the executive director/CEO of the xeriscape demonstration garden adjacent to Cuyamaca College. Overseen by an 11-member governing board, the 6-acre, not-for-profit garden displays drought-tolerant landscaping and offers water-saving ideas. It was founded in 1999. Its $1.3 million operating budget is offset in part by a joint powers agreement (JPA) with several local water agencies. The agencies are Helix Water District, Otay Water District, Sweetwater Authority, the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority. Cuyamaca College is also part of the agreement.
Water conservation numbers for October were announced last week by the Water Resources Control Board, and the savings were all over the place. Statewide, urban water use was down 13.4 percent compared to October 2013, the pre-drought benchmark year. That was down from 14.6 percent in September, but the conservation rate has been pretty static since July. However the Sacramento River watershed, usually one of the more thrifty regions, had savings of just 12.1 percent in October. The conservation rates were higher on the South Coast, 13.1 percent, and in the Bay Area, 14.0 percent.
Whether you are excited about an extra hour of sleep or dour about losing an hour of sunlight at the end of the day, daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 4. The annual adjustment is a great reminder to perform several important household tasks, such as replacing smoke alarm batteries and restocking emergency preparedness kits.
The San Diego County Water Authority asks residents to add one more important task when changing the clocks: Adjust irrigation systems to save water in the months ahead.
“Adjusting irrigation is an easy way to conserve water, since landscapes need less irrigation as the days get shorter and cooler,” said Dana Friehauf, a water resources manager for the Water Authority. “Residents also should make sure their irrigation systems are working correctly, and are free of broken sprinkler heads or other leaks that waste water.”
Approximately half of a typical California household’s water use is outdoors. Seasonal adjustments to irrigation controllers in preparation for winter weather not only reduce water waste, they benefit the health of landscape plants.
Cool-season water-saving practices can reduce use
Additional water-saving practices during the fall and winter months include:
- Turning off irrigation systems when rainstorms are predicted.
- Leaving irrigation systems off for at least a week after significant rainfall.
- Installing rain barrels or cisterns to help capture stormwater from roofs and store it for future irrigation use.
Fall is also the ideal time for residents to upgrade thirsty turf yards to WaterSmart sustainable landscapes. Homeowners can take advantage of winter rains to help establish a new landscape. The Water Authority’s award-winning WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program offers a variety of free classes and how-to online videos to guide homeowners through the conversion process. More information is at WaterSmartSD.
In addition, there are a limited number of residential rebates available for homeowners who want to upgrade to sustainable landscaping at SoCal Water$mart.
The Water Authority offers additional water-saving resources for residents and businesses through its Live WaterSmart campaign. These include:
- Free water-use surveys and irrigation checkups
- Rebates for highly efficient irrigation equipment, washing machines and other devices
- Water-efficiency training for professional landscapers
- An online home water-use calculator and other tools
For a comprehensive list of tips, or to learn more about the Water Authority’s suite of water-saving resources, go to WaterSmartSD.org.
Much was written during California’s recent five-year drought about the amount of water used by almonds. The nuts have become California’s most lucrative agricultural commodity, and a major export product. Long before concerns about water use by almond growers emerged, the industry initiated measures to conserve water by embracing microirrigation systems. It has also become a leader in efforts such as recharging groundwater by flooding almond orchards during winter storms.
The USS Midway Museum, docked in San Diego, is the most popular naval warship museum in the United States and among the most visited museums in the country, with 1.4 million people annually coming aboard.
Those visitors discover the Midway made its own fresh water while at sea, from the first day it was commissioned in 1945 until it was taken out of active service in 1992. But when this venerable aircraft carrier found new life as the USS Midway Museum in 2004, its relationship with water entered a new era as well.
The USS Midway Museum served as host for the launch of the San Diego County Water Authority’s new education and outreach program: Brought to You by Water.
The program underscores the importance of water reliability for the region’s key industries such as tourism and the military — something the operators of the USS Midway Museum understand on multiple levels.
Supporting a floating city at sea with water supplies
When deployed at sea, sailors aboard the USS Midway produced 240,000 gallons of fresh water daily through 12 boilers to support the floating city of 4,500 men. From cooking pasta to feeding sailors, to propelling the catapult system launching aircraft off the flight deck, the Midway depended on a safe and reliable water supply to thrive, just as the San Diego region does today.
Two evaporator plants deep inside the ship took in seawater and produced fresh water via desalination. According to Scott McGaugh, Midway Director of Marketing, working in those “evap spaces” was among the toughest duty assignments aboard the Midway. When one of these plants went out of service, the Midway had to ration its water.
Even in the best of times at sea, sailors always lived with a limited water supply, and water conservation was standard operating procedure. Consider a “Navy shower” — getting wet for 30 seconds or less, shutting the water off, soaping up, and then a quick rinse. That was the lifestyle during deployment, including a stretch when the Midway set a deployment record for aircraft carriers — 327 consecutive days at sea.
Water conservation remains a priority
While the USS Midway Museum doesn’t have to generate its own fresh water anymore, the conservation mindset is still a part of its daily life. Chief Engineer Len Santiago for the Midway says it is a priority for his team of 64 engineers to be good stewards of water and the ship deploys modern technology such as waterless urinals and sensors on faucets.
The most critical issue for the USS Midway Museum is water leaks. The Water Authority encourages homeowners to monitor their plumbing for leaks. Now imagine monitoring hundreds of miles of pipes aboard a floating museum.
“My staff and I have to make sure first, no leaks,” said Santiago. His team checks all systems regularly. “We have hundreds of spaces where pipes run through. We check all sensors in our restrooms for guests are working properly. Problems like a running faucet are reported immediately.
“As we grow as a museum, our infrastructure will continue to grow,” said Santiago. “In the 21st century, we’ll continue to leverage technology. I expect to have sensors that will alert me to water on the deck somewhere that might indicate a leak – even in things like air conditioning.”
As part of the countywide WaterSmart Landscape Contest, the Otay Water District has selected water conservation class graduate and rebate recipient Rosalba Ponce of Chula Vista as the 2018 winner of its “Best in District” award.
Each year, participating water agencies in San Diego County honor residential customers who showcase the best water-efficient features in their yards. This year’s contest committee from Otay determined that Ponce’s landscape best achieved overall attractiveness, a well thought-out design, efficient irrigation methods, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.
Water-efficient Mediterranean floral garden replaces thirsty front lawn
Prior to converting her yard, Ponce participated in two of the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies’ water conservation programs — the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program series and the Sustainable Landscapes Program. In 2016, she attended the Water Authority’s free landscape makeover classes, and as a result hired a professional landscaper to help her replace her thirsty front lawn with a Mediterranean floral garden that was both welcoming and water-efficient.
“Upon retiring, I thought the four-class course would be perfect for me,” said Ponce. “At first, it was very difficult for me because I had never really stepped out into the garden in my whole life. I didn’t know what a valve or filters were. I didn’t know anything about what kind of soil I had. This course gave me the tools to learn about turf removal and opened my eyes to the joy of remodeling my yard.”
With water savings in mind, she also installed a drip irrigation system, two rain barrels, and a detention area to collect rainwater.
Regional incentives help offset landscaping costs
Ponce also submitted her application for the Sustainable Landscapes Program, and in less than nine months, she had completed the full transformation of her front and back yards, receiving an incentive of $1.75 per square foot for replacing approximately 1,200 square feet of turf with sustainable landscaping. (Editor’s Note: As of July 2018, sustainable landscaping incentives in San Diego County are available through the Landscape Transformation Program at www.socalwatersmart.com.)
Her residential landscape now serves as a living example of what conservation education can help create. Ponce’s efforts could have potentially led to a decrease in her overall water use by an average of up to 38 percent.
“Ms. Ponce’s landscape transformation demonstrates the importance of outdoor water-use efficiency as a means of helping to meet the future water needs of our service area and our region as a whole,” said Mitch Thompson, Otay Water District Board member and Water Conservation Garden Joint Powers Authority committee member. “Water-saving approaches to landscaping create healthy, natural yards that offer both economic and environmental benefits.”
At its July 11, 2018 meeting, the Otay Water District’s Board of Directors honored Ponce for exemplifying water-use efficiency in her garden. She was awarded a certificate of recognition, a gift certificate to a local nursery, and other promotional items. She is also being recognized in the district’s newsletter and other outreach materials.
“When I entered the contest, it was another way for me to share my story with other people and motivate them to do something that’s going to be good for our world,” said Ponce.
For more information about the landscape contest, go to www.landscapecontest.com.
Water Authority offers tips to keep things cool while using water resources efficiently
The first major heat wave of summer 2018 in the San Diego region arrived Friday, and it is expected to continue through the weekend. Temperatures hit a record 111 degrees in communities including El Cajon, Escondido, and Ramona on Friday. The City of San Diego reached 93 degrees. There won’t be much relief on the beaches, as Coronado’s forecasted high on Saturday is 83 degrees.
Heat records set in San Diego and around the world
Red-hot temperatures are a worldwide trend, including in the San Diego region. The National Weather Service reports 53 of the last 56 months have been hotter than normal at the official weather station at Lindbergh Field.
All time heat records have already been set this week from Denver to Tbilisi, Georgia. Record heat is to blame for at least 33 deaths in and around Montreal, Quebec.
Whether or not the San Diego region will break its record high temperatures of 2017 this year, it is important for residents to use WaterSmart practices which help you use water resources efficiently during the peak water-use months.
The San Diego County Water Authority offers several tips for making the most of the region’s water supplies. They include:
Check your landscaping’s irrigation system
Inspect irrigation equipment to eliminate overspray. Monitor soil moisture using a spade or soil probe, and only water if the top inch of soil is dry. Irrigate turf if it doesn’t spring back when stepped on. Better yet, upgrade to a “smart” irrigation controller that automatically adjusts water times based on weather conditions. Rebates on irrigation equipment are at WaterSmartSD.org.
Water your mature trees correctly
Irrigate mature trees once or twice a month using a soaker hose or drip system toward the edge of the tree canopy – not at the base of the tree. Use a hose faucet timer (found at hardware stores) to prevent overwatering. Young trees need more frequent irrigation; consult an arborist or tree-care manual for details.
Refresh your compost and mulch
Keeping a 3-inch layer of mulch around trees and plants reduces runoff, helps control weeds and protects soil from direct sunlight and evaporation. Keep mulch at least a foot away from tree trunks and several inches from the crowns of plants. Also, add compost to increase soil nutrients.
Refrigerate drinking water
Keep drinking water cool in your refrigerator to avoid running the tap. Use refillable water bottles instead of buying disposable plastic bottles.
Put a lid on it
Pool and spa covers reduce evaporation, lower pool heating costs and keeping out dirt and debris.
Take a gardening break from the heat
New plants need more water to get established, so wait until fall or winter for planting to take advantage of cooler temperatures and rainfall.
Watch the grass grow
Set your mower to leave grass at least three inches high, because taller blades of grass can reduce evaporation up to 80 percent and protect your roots from heat. And don’t water during the hottest part of the day. The ground can be so hot, roots may literally cook themselves in hot irrigation water.
Treat your vehicles to an efficient car wash
Patronize car washes that recycle water and save at least 15 gallons each time. When washing at home, use a hose nozzle that shuts off when you release the handle.
Rinse your produce the right way
Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under a running water tap. Use the bowl of water afterward to water your house plants or outdoor container plants.
Go to summer school
Learn more tips and best practices on how residents and businesses can use water most efficiently, including WaterSmart Landscaping Videos on Demand from the comfort of your beach chair or sofa, plus information on rebates, classes and other water-saving resources to help you keep your cool on your water use this summer at WaterSmartSD.org