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San Diego Public Agencies Win Communications Awards

Two public agencies in San Diego County were recently honored with communications awards by the California Public Information Officers, a statewide professional trade group of communicators from public sector agencies.

The City of San Marcos received CAPIO Epic Awards for its San Marcos Creek Project groundbreaking ceremony, held December 2019, as well as the project’s logo. The San Marcos Creek Project is a three-year, $104 million construction project to raise the roadways and bridges over San Marcos Creek.

“These awards are a testament to the importance we place on keeping our community informed and involved in key infrastructure projects,” said Tess Sangster, economic development director for the City of San Marcos. The city hired JPW Communications to execute communications activities for the San Marcos Creek project.

In addition, the San Diego County Water Authority was honored with an CAPIO Epic Award for its Water News Network website, launched in mid 2018. Judges lauded the website for keeping stakeholders in mind with design and original content and photos. The water authority said stories from the website are picked up by regional news media on a weekly basis, and the percentage of views generated through organic search has increased 454% since inception.

“Over the past two years, the Water News Network has become a timely and reliable source of news and information about a variety of water issues, projects and programs affecting more than 3.3 million across San Diego County,” said Denise Vedder, public affairs director. “We’re proud to collaborate with our member agencies on this and other outreach and education efforts about region’s most precious natural resource.”

Water News Network Named Best California Public Agency Website

The Water News Network website has been named “Best Website” among California public agencies for 2020 in the California Public Information Officers EPIC Awards competition.

The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in the areas of communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development and video production.

EPIC Award-CAPIO-San Diego County Water Authority-Water News Network

Water News Network Named Best California Public Agency Website

The Water News Network website has been named “Best Website” among California public agencies for 2020 in the California Public Information Officers EPIC Awards competition.

The CAPIO EPIC Awards recognize the “best of the best” in government communications throughout the state. Winning entries demonstrate the most creative and effective efforts in the areas of communication and marketing campaigns, newsletter production, photography, special events, writing, website development and video production.

Original news content praised by judges

The Water News Network received praise from competition judges for keeping all stakeholders in mind when creating the website, and for its initiative in producing original story content and photos. Other finalists in the Best Website/App category were the City of Santa Clara for its SantaClaraCA.gov website redesign; and Contra Costa County for its ‘Virtual Office’ entry.

“Over the past two years, the Water News Network has become a timely and reliable source of news and information about a variety of water issues, projects and programs affecting more than 3.3 million people across San Diego County,” said Water Authority Public Affairs Director Denise Vedder. “We’re proud to collaborate with our member agencies on this and other outreach and education efforts about region’s most precious natural resource.”

EPIC Award for Best Website/App revealed in package

In lieu of an awards ceremony, trophies were mailed to the winning entrants with results revealed upon being opened in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: CAPIO

In lieu of an awards ceremony, trophies were mailed to the winning entrants with results revealed upon being opened in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: CAPIO

The EPIC Awards honor work that transcends innovation and craft, work that made a lasting impact, providing an equal chance of winning to all entrants regardless of company or agency size and project budget.

Entries are assessed on research and planning efforts that display an understanding of audience objectives and needs for information; development and execution; and how successfully the entrant organization achieves its objectives.

This year’s CAPIO EPIC Awards program drew a record number of 275 entries in all categories from throughout the state of California.

The Water News Network has also won the Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website category for the past two years in the San Diego Press Club‘s Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.

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City of Escondido Water Quality Lab Associate Chemist Oyuna Jenkins is the 2019-2020 CWEA Laboratory Person of the Year. Photo: City of Escondido

Escondido Employee Named California Laboratory Person of the Year

City of Escondido Water Quality Lab Associate Chemist Oyuna Jenkins has been named “Laboratory Person of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association for 2019-20.

Supervising Chemist Ralph Ginese nominated Jenkins for the award, calling her “an incredible asset” during her seven years working at the lab. “The lab technically could not function without Oyuna,” wrote Ginese.

“This is really teamwork,” said Oyuna Jenkins of her recognition. “I have to give credit to everyone in the lab. We work really hard. Whoever you call a hero, there are always people behind them.

“It’s all about public health. I feel like it’s making a difference, providing accurate information to the public as possible. It’s all coordination between distribution, collection, public works, and everyone involved.”

Escondido lab helps ensure safe, reliable water supply

Jenkins plays a key role in the lab’s safety processes, which ensures a safe, reliable water supply for City of Escondido customers. She runs metal analyses on drinking water, industrial waste, and every step of the wastewater treatment process. Jenkins also peforms required monthly and quarterly testing and cross-trains colleagues on testing procedures. In addition, she is the laboratory’s liaison to contract labs.

“She’s very analytical,” said Ginese. “She’s someone we can go to, brainstorm, and work together. She is not afraid when people question her data. She is secure in what she does.”

Escondido lab plays leadership role in advanced water quality testing

Oyuna Jenkins (fifth from left) and the 14 person Escondido Water Quality Lab team, one of only two certified labs in California under new water quality standards. Photo: City of Escondido California Laboratory Person

Oyuna Jenkins (fifth from left) and the 14 person Escondido Water Quality Lab team, one of only two certified labs in California under new water quality standards. Photo: City of Escondido

From Mongolia to Escondido

A native of Mongolia, Oyuna Jenkins earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, which is among the top 15% of all programs worldwide. She immigrated to the United States in 1998. Jenkins continues to pursue advanced training. She first obtained CWEA certification in 2012 and completed the Water and Wastewater Certification program at Palomar College in 2016.

“Oyuna has worked tremendously hard to be where she is at today,” wrote Ginese in his award nomination. “She is grateful for the opportunity this country gives her and she shares that gratitude with those around her … She is what every supervisor/manager is looking for in a Laboratory Person of the Year Award.”

Escondido Water Quality Lab leads the way

Jenkins helped develop strategies to implement new techniques and processes supporting the implementation of strict new accreditation standards for California’s 600 certified water quality testing labs.

As reported earlier this year on Water News Network, the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab successfully adopted the anticipated regulations in advance of their formal implementation. Jenkins reviewed and wrote many of the lab’s new Standard Operating Procedures now being used. She also assisted in developing the facility’s annual goals, along with its new mission and value statements.

The ambitious approach to Environmental Lab Accreditation Program compliance under the more stringent quality control processes places Escondido in a leadership role as one of only two California labs already compliant with the new regulations.

Projects Create Wetlands, Improve Water Quality in San Diego Region

Since 2005, the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program has supported and funded water conservation, water quality and resource projects throughout San Diego County.

Program partners, including staff of the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, the California Department of Water Resources, and regional water industry leaders, met at the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College Monday to celebrate 15 years of achievements.

The program facilitates collaboration on water resources planning and projects in the region by water retailers, wastewater agencies, stormwater and flood managers, watershed groups, the business community, tribes, agriculture, and nonprofit stakeholders.

Set yourself up for landscaping success by building the best foundation in your soil structure. Photo: walkersalmanac/Pixabay

Take a Test to Determine Your Soil Type

If you put a shovel into the ground in San Diego County, you are likely to encounter the region’s impermeable soil structure. Impermeable soils are defined by poor infiltration areas. This means water doesn’t flow through the soil to replenish groundwater, because the soil is too dense.

Having impermeable soil also means water does not soak evenly into the ground or flow through living soil to plants in a healthy way. No matter where you plan your landscape, you should concentrate on improving your soil structure. That will help you irrigate more efficiently and cost-effectively, and your plants will receive the nutrients and water they need to flourish. It is relatively easy to improve your soil structure, but first you need to determine what kind of soil you have.

Particle size matters

The three basic types of soil are:

Clay: Soil made up of the smallest particles
Silt: Soil made up of a mixture of particle sizes
Sand: Soil made up of the largest particles

In general, sandy soils drain faster than clay soils, because there is more space between the larger particles. Soil structure also influences the quality of the soil. Lifeless, compacted, sandy soil will not absorb water, while healthy clay soil will be more sponge-like, holding and releasing water. The “best” soil – an even blend of sand, silt and clay – is called loam.

Find your soil structure by testing your soil

Some tests can be done onsite to figure out what kind of soil you have. Others might require lab analysis. Certain other conditions require specialized tests, such as soil used for food production or soil receiving a lot of storm water.

You can test your home landscaping soil yourself using a “Jar Test.” This is a fun project to do with kids or as a family.

Use this graphic as an example to compare your jar to. Aim to get the most even distribution, as shown with the loam jar. Image: Water Authority

Use this graphic as an example with which to compare your jar. Try to get the most even distribution, as shown with the loam jar. Image: San Diego County Water Authority

How to do the “Jar Test”

  • Use a one-quart glass container.
  • Add one cup of soil from the garden. You can select one area or take samples from several areas and blend them together.
  • Add three cups of distilled water.
  • Close the jar and shake it until all the soil solids are suspended in water. Put the jar on a shelf and wait 24 hours.
  • If the container is still cloudy, wait another 24 hours. After 48 hours, the soil layers should be settled on the bottom.
  • Measure the layers in proportion to each other, with the total adding up to 100%. Sand will be on the bottom, silt in the middle, and clay on top.
  • Refer to the graphic to determine your soil type, based on the proportions of sand, silt, and clay. Which jar does your home sample look most like?

Now you can work to improve your soil condition, providing the best possible foundation for your landscaping plants and the most efficient irrigation.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Award-Winning Student Artwork Inspires 2020 Water Conservation Calendar

The City of San Diego’s colorful 2020 Water Conservation Calendar features winning artwork from 19 students throughout San Diego. This is the 20th year the calendar has been produced by the City’s Public Utilities Department. The theme was water conservation.

“The children’s artwork in these calendars is fantastic, and helps present the importance of reducing water use,” said Shauna Lorance, director of the Public Utilities Department.

Water News Network Top 3 Stories of 2019

The Water News Network’s top three stories of 2019 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and successful efforts to diversify water supply sources.

Top 3 WNN stories of 2019 - Water News Network

Water News Network Top 3 Stories of 2019

The Water News Network’s top three stories of 2019 reflect the San Diego region’s interest in water conservation, sustainable landscaping, and successful efforts to diversify water supply sources.

Conservation

Colorful art created by elementary school students communicated the importance of saving water. This was the most viewed story of 2019.  

January 2019
(L to R) 2019 poster contest winners Madeleine Inawen, Claire Zhang, Kate Hu, Alanis Huang, and Weiyi Xu with their winning artwork. Photo: City of San Diego

Creative Kids Educate Region About Water Conservation

January 13, 2019

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.

“The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is proud to sponsor the yearly Kids Poster Contest,” said Brian Hojnacki, a supervising management analyst for city utilities. “It allows us to involve first to sixth graders through art while learning and thinking about water conservation in our region. It’s a win-win for us all.”

The theme “How Am I A Water Conservation Hero?” asked students to imagine themselves saving water from being wasted. They could draw, paint, color, cut and paste original artwork depicting one important message about water conservation.

1st Place – Madeleine Irawan, Black Mountain Middle School

 

Sustainability

People living in the San Diego region continue to take advantage of rebate opportunities that encourage sustainability. A program that provided incentives to remove grass and replace it with sustainable landscaping proved popular in the spring. The Water News Network story about the rebates was also popular and the second-most read story of 2019.

Top 3 stories of 2019 - WNN
There are new enhanced rebates for removing turf and replacing it with sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority

 

Cash Rebates Increase for Grass Removal in San Diego Region

April 8, 2019

Removing grass can generate rebates of at least $2 per square foot for San Diego residents under new enhanced incentives that started this month.

As of April 1, the Metropolitan Water District is offering $2 per square foot for every square foot of grass removed from yards and replaced with sustainable landscaping.

“San Diego County homeowners and businesses know that sustainable landscapes are key to water reliability in our region,” said Joni German, who manages the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program. “With the help of local landscape architects and designers, our WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program gives them the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. WaterSmart landscapes are an upgrade, not a compromise.”

Infrastructure

The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $245 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility.

California officials toured some of that infrastructure in July as they worked to prepare a water resilience portfolio for the state. Our reporting on the July 18 water portfolio tour was the third most read story of 2019 on the Water News Network.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

During the water portfolio tour, state officials got a first-hand look at infrastructure, including the San Vicente Reservoir, Olivenhain Reservoir, and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

San Diego’s Water Portfolio Approach ‘Model for California’

July 18, 2019

State officials Thursday toured San Diego County water infrastructure to get a first-hand look at the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification.

California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Gibson, State Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, and State Water Resources Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel were here to assess the region’s water projects as part of their new role in developing a water portfolio strategy for the state.

“San Diego has been a leader in the water portfolio approach,” said Wade Crowfoot. “We have to make the investments to build regional water resilience as part of the Governor’s order to develop a portfolio to manage water in California.”

Jim Madaffer tweet on water portfolio tour July 2019
San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer tweeted during the water portfolio tour.

State EPA Secretary Lauds Clean-up Funds in USMCA, Federal Funding Bills

California Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld lauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and San Diego County’s congressional delegation Thursday for their successful efforts to include millions in funding in a new multi-national trade deal to mitigate toxic sewage flows in the Tijuana River Valley.