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The East County Advanced Water Purification project is making significant progress on construction toward its 2026 opening. Photo: East County AWP

East County Advanced Water Purification Project Progressing

The East County Advanced Water Purification project is progressing, with construction underway at multiple East San Diego County locations.

The project will create a new, local, sustainable, and drought-proof water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water. Construction for the East County AWP is expected to be completed in 2025, and water production will begin in 2026. When completed, the project is expected to provide approximately 30% of current drinking water demands for East San Diego County residents and businesses.

When completed, the water recycling facility will be able to treat 16 million gallons of water per day (MGD). The advanced water purification facility will be able to process 11.5 MGD. Photo: East County AWP

When completed, the water recycling facility can treat 16 million gallons of water per day (MGD). The advanced water purification facility will be able to process 11.5 MGD. Photo: East County AWP

Water treatment facilities are under construction north of Santee Lakes. Concrete work is underway on the water recycling and solids handling facilities. About 24,000 cubic yards of concrete have been poured, marking nearly 50% of the total concrete used at this site. Once complete, there will be enough concrete to fill 16 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Crews at the East County AWP construction site in Santee found this friendly tarantula. More tarantulas are emerging from hiding as mating season is in full swing across San Diego County. Photo East County Advanced Water Puritifcation

Crews at the East County AWP construction site in Santee found this friendly tarantula. More tarantulas emerge from hiding as mating season is in full swing across San Diego County. Photo East County AWP

The advanced water purification facility and visitors center are also taking shape with the installation of underground piping and conduits.

When completed, the water recycling facility can treat 16 million gallons of water per day (MGD). The advanced water purification facility will be able to process 11.5 MGD.

Time lapse video of the project

Pipeline construction in Santee

Pipeline construction continues on Fanita Parkway north of Ganley in Santee. Biking and hiking access to the trails north of Ganley are temporarily located at the end of Strathmore to provide a safe space for construction.

Pipeline construction along Fanita Parkway north of Santee Lakes. Photo: East County Advanced Water Purification

Pipeline construction along Fanita Parkway north of Santee Lakes. Photo: East County AWP

The purified water pipeline will travel east through Santee and Lakeside, ending at Lake Jennings. Two additional pipelines will be constructed south of the new facilities past Carlton Oaks Drive to a pump station just south of the Carlton Oaks Golf Course.

Most pipeline work will be trenched, placed, and covered, while the remainder will be installed using trenchless technologies and methods. There may be some impacts from construction, including road travel delays. Construction hours vary depending on the project elements being completed.

The purified water pipeline running from the advanced water purification facility north of Santee Lakes to Lake Jennings is 10.2 miles long.

Interactive construction map

An interactive construction map tracks project construction sites and work progress. Photo: East County Advanced Water Purification

An interactive construction map tracks project construction sites and work progress. Photo: East County AWP

An interactive map allows viewers to zoom in and click on project areas to find active construction zones, schedules, work hours, and other information. Communication will include mailers, email updates, road signs, interactive maps, webpage updates, and presentations to community groups throughout the project area.

Groundbreaking ceremony in 2022

East County AWP-water recycling-water supply-sustainability

The East County Advanced Water Purification Program broke ground on June 1, 2022, marking an important milestone for the recycled water project in San Diego County. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The June 2022 groundbreaking followed the approval of project construction on May 19, 2022, by the East County AWP Joint Powers Authority that owns and operates the Program. The Joint Powers Authority is a collaborative partnership between four agencies: Padre Dam, the City of El Cajon, the County of San Diego and Helix Water District. The project is estimated to create 2,500 jobs in the region.

East County Advanced Water Purification Program

East County AWP-water recycling-sustainability-water supply-recycling

The East County Advanced Water Purification Program will create a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof drinking water supply by using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water to produce up to 30% of East County’s drinking water supply. Graphic: East County AWP

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

Survey: 66% of Americans Say Water Requires More Federal Funding

The American Business Water Coalition (ABWC), a national organization comprised of water-reliant businesses, has released a “U.S. Water Infrastructure Funding and Business Risks Survey,” examining voter opinions across a wide spectrum of water issues.

The survey focused on water issues such as water quality, federal infrastructure funding and perceived risk to U.S. businesses and local communities from potential water-related crises.

Major Reservoir Upgrade is Part of Poway Water Infrastructure Program

Construction on the City of Poway’s clearwell replacement is anticipated to begin this fall following the award of contract to Gateway Pacific Contractors, Inc. The contract was awarded at the Sept. 19 Poway City Council meeting.

The clearwell is Poway’s major storage reservoir for water treated at the water treatment plant, prior to being distributed to Poway water customers.

Clearwell-City of Poway-water infrastructure-CIP-reservoir

Major Reservoir Upgrade is Part of Poway Water Infrastructure Program

Construction on the City of Poway’s clearwell replacement is anticipated to begin this fall following the award of contract to Gateway Pacific Contractors, Inc. The contract was awarded at the Sept. 19 Poway City Council meeting.

The clearwell is Poway’s major storage reservoir for water treated at the water treatment plant, prior to being distributed to Poway water customers.

Poway Water Infrastructure Program

Replacing the aging clearwell, built in 1964, is the second phase of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Program. This program is the largest capital improvement program (CIP) in the city’s 43-year history. The first phase of the program built the infrastructure necessary to bypass the clearwell. The improvements to Poway’s water system will increase the reliability of drinking water for water customers now and for generations to come.

The two tanks that will be built as part of the clearwell replacement project, will provide Poway’s water system with redundancy and operational flexibility in that one tank can be taken offline for maintenance and repairs without interrupting service. Gatweway Pacific was the lowest responsible bidder for the project, with a bid amount of approximately $31.6 million.

The targeted construction start date is Fall 2023 and will include the restoration of the ballfield at Lake Poway once the new tanks are operational. The project is expected to be completed in Fall 2026.

Water Projects Overview

With the goal of increasing the reliability of drinking water for water customers now and generations to come, the City of Poway is undertaking the largest capital improvement program (CIP) in the city’s 40-year history.

The CIP will include replacing the clearwell (water storage reservoir) at the water treatment plant and a new San Diego County Water Authority treated water connection and redundant pipeline. In order to replace the clearwell, a bypass system consisting of two 1.4 million-gallon tanks, pipelines, a pump station and other appurtenances will be constructed.

These infrastructure improvement projects have been in the planning stage for a long time and are moving ahead as part of a mutual agreement between Poway and the State Division of Drinking Water.

SDCWA Treated Water Connection/Redundant Pipeline

The San Diego County Water Authority treated water connection and redundant pipeline project provides Poway with its first treated water connection to the Water Authority’s treated water aqueduct, as well as providing redundant pipelines. This project will help diversify Poway’s water supply portfolio and allow for operational flexibility and plant maintenance. It will also provide a redundant pipeline to the 36″ water transmission line on Lake Poway Road, which is currently the single transmission line that carries treated water to the distribution system.

The Poway City Council considered approval of the engineering design agreements during the April 5, 2022 City Council meeting. The City is also working with the Water Authority to evaluate alternatives to reduce the cost of this project.

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

Water Rates Could Climb 12% in Two Years for Oceanside

Oceanside’s water rates could climb 6 percent in 2024 and another 6 percent in 2025 under a proposal outlined this week by the city’s water utilities director.

The increases are the result of rate hikes by the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s biggest water wholesaler, and the San Diego County Water Authority, which buys water from Metropolitan and sells it to local agencies.

“We are directly passing through those rates,” Oceanside Water Utilities Director Lindsay Leahy said Tuesday in a presentation to the city’s Water Utilities Commission. The proposal is scheduled to go to the Oceanside City Council for approval Nov. 15.

San Diego Raises Water Rates by Nearly 20% Over Two Years

San Diego water rates will rise nearly 20 percent over the next two years after a divided City Council approved Tuesday the first comprehensive rate hike in nearly eight years.

The rate increases, approved by a vote of 5-3, will come in three parts: A 5 percent hike on Dec. 1, a 5.2 percent increase next July 1 and an 8.75 percent jump in January 2025. An earlier version of the proposal would have raised the rates more quickly — by 10.2 percent on Dec. 1 and 8.75 percent in January 2025.

Revisiting the Debate: Who Will Build New U.S. Pumped Storage?

About this time last year, I published an article on Hydro Review where I asked: “Who will build the first new pumped storage hydro in the U.S.?”

In that article, I didn’t really provide an answer to the question. I did list the three projects I saw as the front runners, based on them having operating licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: 1,300 Eagle Mountain in California, 400 MW Gordon Butte in Montana and 393 MW Swan Lake in Oregon. And I included the 1,200 MW Goldendale project in Washington in the honorable mention position.

City Council to Vote on Water Rate Increase Tuesday

City council is expected to vote on a nearly 20% increase to water rates for San Diego residents.

If approved, this would increase rates 10.2% beginning Dec. 1, 2023, then up to an additional 8.7% beginning Jan. 1, 2025.

Mayor Todd Gloria said this would equate to an approximate $12 increase to the average residents’ monthly bill.

San Diego Expected to Approve Water-Rate Hikes of Almost 20%

San Diego water bills would rise nearly 20% under a rate-increase proposal the City Council is scheduled to consider Tuesday.

The increase, which city officials began studying last fall, would be the first comprehensive rate hike approved by the council in nearly eight years. It would include a 10.2 increase this December and an 8.75% jump in January 2025.

Rep. Peters Seeks $100 Million Annual Construction Funding to Fix South Bay Sewage Plant

Rep. Scott Peters introduced legislation Tuesday to provide $100 million in annual construction funding to rehabilitate and expand the dilapidated International Wastewater Treatment Plant that is contributing to pollution closing nearby South Bay beaches.