Lake Jennings - East County Advanced Water Purification Program - Woranuch Joyce

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA today released a draft plan to advance water reuse nationally at the WateReuse Association Symposium in San Diego.

The National Water Reuse Action Plan identifies 46 proposed actions organized around 10 strategic objectives, including leadership and collaboration, to support the implementation of water reuse.

“Forty states anticipate experiencing fresh water shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade,” said David Ross, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”

The draft plan incorporates federal, state, tribal and local water perspectives and highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have worked for decades to increase the region’s water supply reliability through supply diversification, and the Water Authority collaborated with its member agencies to submit comments to the EPA before the draft was released.

Increasing San Diego County's Water Supply Reliability through Supply Diversification

Recycled water and potable reuse are forecast to make up more than one-quarter of San Diego County’s water supply by 2035. Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

National Water Reuse Action Plan a ‘game changer’

The draft plan will be open for public comment for 90 days following its publication to the Federal Register. During that period, EPA will solicit feedback about how to prioritize and implement the proposed actions.

EPA’s goal is to issue a final plan that will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse to bolster the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources, according to the agency.

“The National Water Reuse Action Plan will be a game changer,” said Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association. “Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply – essential for livable communities, healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life.”

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The U.S. EPA released a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan on September 10, 2019 in San Diego. Graphic: EPA

San Diego County agencies developing water reuse and recycling

In San Diego County, several agencies are developing or expanding water recycling plans, including the City of San DiegoPadre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the City of Oceanside, and several additional projects in North County.

Padre Dam Demonstration Facility-Padre Dam MWD photo

Padre Dam’s demonstration project is evaluating the feasibility of the East County Advanced Water Purification Program. Since March 2015, the pilot program has produced approximately 100,000 gallons of purified water each day. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

“California is widely recognized as a national and world leader in water recycling,” according to the California WateReuse Action Plan, released in July 2019. “Recycled water supplies offset approximately 9% of the state’s urban water demands and agricultural reuse provides reliable water supplies for farmers throughout the state.”

In July, the Water Authority Board endorsed Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-10-19, directing development of a water resilience portfolio approach that meets the needs of California through the 21st century.

On July 18, state officials toured San Diego County water infrastructure to see the region’s successful water portfolio approach for supply diversification, as they work to create the statewide water resilience portfolio.

EPA Action Plan to Boost Water Reuse Across U.S.

The EPA Draft National Water Reuse Action Plan cites examples from California water agencies. Graphic: EPA

Top 10 Tips for Saving Water This Summer

Top 10 Tips for Saving Water This Summer

The start of summer brings the hottest, driest months of the year in San Diego County and a good time to remind residents of the Top 10 tips for using water more efficiently.

Top 10 tips to use water more efficiently

Check it out. 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 for a variety of irrigation equipment are at

Let it sink in. 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.

Maintain your mulch (and compost). 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.

Use water efficiently

Drink responsibly. 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 keep dirt and other debris out of the pool.

Let your lawn grow

Take a break. New plants need more water to get established, so wait until fall and winter for planting to take advantage of cooler temperatures and rain.

Go to summer school. Get started planning your WaterSmart landscape by surfing WaterSmart Landscaping Videos On Demand from the comfort of your beach chair or sofa.

Let your lawn grow. Set your mower to leave grass at least 3 inches high because taller blades reduce evaporation up to 80 percent and protect roots from heat.

Keep it clean. 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 right. Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water instead of in running water. Afterward, pour the collected water on a plant.

More information on how residents and business can use water efficiently, along with rebates, classes and other water-saving resources, at

Report credits San Diego County Water Authority for providing regional water solutions which include storing water in Lake Mead. Photo: National Park Service

San Diego County Quality of Life Indicators Mostly Positive in 2018

A report released today showed improvement in 2018 for the majority of 15 indicators used to measure San Diego County’s quality of life. The Equinox Project Quality of Life Dashboard measures and benchmarks several environmental and economic trends throughout the region.

The analysis highlighted the San Diego County Water Authority for developing water solutions for San Diego and the Southwest using a “portfolio approach.” One of the initiatives under that approach includes efforts to store water in Lake Mead on the Colorado River, which would benefit both San Diego County residents and many other river users.

San Diego County's water supply has diversified significantly over the last couple of decades.. Source: San Diego County Water Authority

San Diego County’s water supply has diversified significantly over the last couple of decades. Source: San Diego County Water Authority

The nonpartisan Equinox Project report is a source of public policy research and analysis to guide policymakers, planners and other officials, said Emily Young, executive director of The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego, where the project is based.

Water use increased in 2018

“There’s no one indicator when you’re talking our quality of life in the San Diego region,” Young said. “And in fact, the whole point is all of these things are connected. If you’re talking about air quality, you really can’t talk about that if you’re not also talking about our transportation systems and the pollution generated from them.

“Whether we’re looking at an issue like water, which is very precious to the San Diego region, or other issues around transportation or housing, all of these are things that we’re measuring our progress on,” said Young.

Per capita water use in San Diego County

*This data includes agricultural water use served by local water agencies.
In 2018, National City had the lowest municipal and industrial (M&I) water use at 78 gallons per capita daily. Yuima’s high per capita M&I potable water use occurs because a large amount of water used for horticultural irrigation is classified as M&I, and the district services a small population (less than 2,000 people). Data Source: San Diego County Water Authority

Measuring quality of life

Six of the 15 indicators received a “thumbs-up” in the report, including air quality, electricity use and renewable energy. Four indicators, including water use, received a “thumbs-down.”

“Daily residential water consumption in San Diego County increased by 8.3% from 84 gallons per capita in 2017 to 91 gallons in 2018,” according to the report. “Water use has increased since the statewide water restrictions were lifted in 2017, though below pre-drought levels.”

*Sweetwater Authority is comprised of the South Bay Irrigation District and National City. The dataset excludes the City of Del Mar, the City of Oceanside, Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base and the Yuima Municipal Water District.
In Q4 of 2018, residents in the Sweetwater Authority area (National City and South Bay) had the lowest residential water use in San Diego County. Santa Fe Irrigation District used 363 gallons per capita/day, the most water per capita in San Diego County. Data Source: State Water Resources Control Board, Urban Water Supplier Report, 2019

Water use lower in 2019

Despite the slight increase in water use during 2018, residents continue to conserve compared to previous years.

“While extreme dry conditions contributed to increased residential water use in 2018, per capita water use was still lower than historical, pre-drought levels,” said Alexi Schnell, water resources specialist with the Water Authority. “Water use to date in 2019, a much wetter year, has been consistently lower than in 2018.

“There will always be fluctuations based on weather and other factors, but the San Diego region continues to embrace water-use efficiency, and per capita water use in the region is not forecasted to return to pre-drought levels for the foreseeable future,” Schnell added.

The report noted that “the San Diego region is making significant commitments to water efficiency and recycling” and has diversified local supply with the Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad, the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant.

An artist's rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Gourtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District water repurification water reliability

East County Advanced Water Purification Project on Track for 2025

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward toward its anticipated completion date after the Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors approved the required environmental report.

“The approval of the environmental report for this project brings us another step closer to producing a local water supply for East County and improving the reliability of the water service for our community,” said Allen Carlisle, Padre Dam CEO/General Manager. “We are on track for the project to begin providing water to the East San Diego communities by 2025.”

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is a collaborative partnership between the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, County of San Diego and City of El Cajon. The partnership’s purpose is bringing a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof water supply to the East County, using state-of-the-art technology.

Advanced technology improves water reliability for East County

The project will recycle East San Diego County’s wastewater locally, and then purify the recycled water at an advanced water treatment facility using four advanced water purification steps. The purified water will then be pumped into Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix Levy Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

The water recycling project will help diversify East County’s drinking water supply, reducing the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA), the primary federal law in the U.S. helping to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters by addressing pollution and improving wastewater treatment. It is one of the United States’ first and most influential modern environmental laws.

Upon its completion, the East County Advanced Water Purification Project will produce up to 12,900 acre-feet per year, or 11.5 million gallons per day of new local drinking water supply.

“This project is forward-thinking, innovative and promises to give East County greater water independence and reliability,” said San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents the East County region. “It will give us more local control over our most precious resource — and that’s great news for residents and businesses.”

Padre Dam offers tours of the East County Advanced Water Purification Demonstration Project. To schedule a tour or for more information on the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, visit

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Named California’s Recycled Water Agency of the Year

Encinitas, CA—The WaterReuse Association of California today recognized Olivenhain Municipal Water District as its 2019 Agency of the Year (Medium). The award was presented this morning at WateReuse’s annual conference in Garden Grove.