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Opinion: A Safe and Healthy Water Supply and Our Commitment to You

Every time you turn on the tap to draw water to drink, cook or bathe, you expect that the water will be safe and healthy to use, and that’s what you should expect. That’s not true in every part of the World, or even in some parts of California, but it is true here in the Valley Center Municipal Water District service area.

We are confident in saying that our highest priority here at VCMWD is managing, monitoring and testing the water supply to ensure it meets all stringent federal and state drinking water standards.

Mysterious Machine Dropped to the Bottom of Lake Hodges

It’s the only one of its kind in Southern California and no one will see it again for years.

“It’s a giant upside-down cone with some pipes,” said Jeff Pasek. “It’s a strange looking device.”

It’s a strange looking device called a Speece Cone that’s expected to improve the water quality at Hodges Reservoir near Escondido.

“It’s not going to be seen again for a number of years because it’s 70 feet deep in the reservoir,” said Pasek, a Project Officer with the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department.

The $3.4 million project will constantly inject oxygen into the reservoir which will reduce the nutrients that algae feed on, Pasek said.

California County Shuts Down Fifth of Water Wells Over PFAS

California wants to slash the allowable levels in drinking water for two “forever chemical” compounds, immediately prompting agencies supplying water to 2.5 million residents in Orange County to remove a fifth of their wells from service.

The State Water Resources Control board Thursday said it planned to dramatically lower its response levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), though actual drinking water standards are still years away.

The response levels require water suppliers to install treatment, and remove wells from service if they exceed the thresholds. Notifying customers is required if districts plan to keep wells in service without treatment for an extended period.

Orange County oversees the area’s groundwater basin and provides water to 19 agencies, which rely on underground supplies for 77% of deliveries. The remainder comes from the Colorado River and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to 19 million people in the region.

San Diego Leaders Say $300M in New Federal Cash Will Help Build U.S. Facility to Capture TJ River Pollution

The San Diego region has secured $300 million in federal funding for a new U.S. facility to capture Tijuana sewage spills before they foul South Bay shorelines, elected leaders said Friday. “This has been an issue in our region for decades, and concrete federal action to address cross-border pollution has been long overdue,” said Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, at a news conference in Chula Vista. Congressional leaders announced the funding in December, but it wasn’t clear whether that money would be doled out across the entire southwest border or dedicated specifically to address pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.

Newport Beach Water Wheel Project Moving Forward

The Newport Beach Harbor Commission got an update on the proposed water wheel project at their Jan. 8 meeting, with Newport Beach Department of Public Works Water Quality Senior Engineer John Kappeler telling commissioners city staff is hoping a consultant contract will be awarded in February.

The water wheel would be a floating stationary solar and hydro-powered trash interceptor in San Diego Creek nestled by Jamboree Road Bridge.

Escondido Water Quality Lab Leads by Example

California’s 600 certified water quality testing labs will face strict new accreditation standards in the near future. While final hearings still need to take place on the draft regulations before adoption, the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab isn’t waiting. Escondido is working now to adopt the anticipated regulations.

Escondido is one of only two California labs already compliant with the draft regulations, which require more stringent quality controls.

Laboratory Superintendent Nicki Branch (far left) and employees of the Escondido Water Quality Lab, one of only two certified labs in California under new standards. Photo: City of Escondido

Escondido Water Quality Lab Leads By Example

California’s 600 certified water quality testing labs will face strict new accreditation standards in the near future. While final hearings still need to take place on the draft regulations before adoption, the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab isn’t waiting. Escondido is working now to adopt the anticipated regulations.

Escondido is one of only two California labs already compliant with the draft regulations, which require more stringent quality controls.

The laboratory is certified by the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program to conduct 155 different certified test methods to ensure Escondido water and wastewater safety, including reclaimed water samples, stormwater samples, drinking water samples, wastewater from various stages throughout the treatment process, and industrial wastewater collected from permitted industries.

As part of compliance with the new standards, Laboratory Technician Ken Brown was promoted to the lab's Quality Assurance Officer. Photo: City of Escondido

As part of compliance with the new standards, Laboratory Technician Ken Brown was promoted to the lab’s Quality Assurance Officer. Photo: City of Escondido

City of Escondido Laboratory Superintendent Nicki Branch supervises the 13-person lab staff. She said the decision was made to work toward Environmental Lab Accreditation Program compliance right away rather than wait for formal implementation.

“We thought, this regulation is coming,” said Branch. “It’s going to be the law. Let’s just go ahead and comply with it now. Each water quality laboratory has to be certified by the state. Adding the [proposed] standards adds more quality assurance and quality control procedures for everything you do in the lab.”

Improved reporting of water quality testing

Damien Wong (left) and Michelle Sohn at work in the Escondido Water Quality Lab. Photo: City of Escondido

Damien Wong (left) and Michelle Sohn at work in the Escondido Water Quality Lab. Photo: City of Escondido

Branch said the standards implement more rigorous reporting, not new processes.

“It takes what we are doing now and makes the data more defensible,” she said. “We can show the chain of custody and verify our procedures, from sampling to analyzing to reporting. The process protects the integrity of the data.”

The proposed new requirements are based on 2016 standards developed by The NELAC Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting “the generation of environmental data of known and documented quality through an open, inclusive, and transparent process that is responsive to the needs of the community.”

Escondido staff share expertise with industry peers

Brett Kelley conducts a test in the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab. Photo: City of Escondido

Brett Kelley conducts a test in the City of Escondido Water Quality Lab. Photo: City of Escondido

Branch said it took a full year to implement the additional sampling and paperwork. Once the City of Escondido completed the process, she realized her team gained valuable insight other labs would need. She encouraged her staff to submit abstracts to speak on the proposed new regulations at the annual 2019 California Water Environment Association conference.

“We had five people speaking who had never made a presentation before,” said Branch. “I told them ‘You are now the experts.’”

Lab staff presentation at 2019 CWEA Tri-State Seminar

“We expect to give more presentations this year,” said Branch. “Labs will need to do this. We can help people, counsel them, and give them tips. People are apprehensive. It’s human nature. ‘No, not more regulation!’ But when you are a lab doing drinking water analysis, you want the lab to be that stringent and that accurate with quality assurance procedures.”

Personal pride in the achievement, improved teamwork, and sharing their new knowledge as subject matter experts were unexpected benefits.

Opinion: What Have Decades of Water Lawsuits in California Accomplished?

We are stunned by the suggestion that yet another water lawsuit will help anyone. Conflict has dominated California water policy at least as far back as the coining of the phrase “whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.”

And what have decades of endless lawsuits accomplished?

Balancing Water Supply for All is 2020 Priority, California Farm Bureau Federation Says

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

New Oxygenation System to Improve Water Quality at San Diego Reservoir

The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department last week took a major step toward completing an innovative project to improve water quality in Lake Hodges. A newly installed oxygenation system, designed by city engineers, will introduce highly oxygenated water to the bottom of the reservoir to reduce the accumulation of excess nutrients and harmful algae growth.