A new video explains how the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will create a new, local, reliable and drought proof supply of drinking water for San Diego residents. The four-minute video, The Clear Solution, shows how recycling and reusing the region’s wastewater will create high quality drinking water. The East County AWP is one of several potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region.
Like millions of teens around the world, my daughter enjoys long showers. Unlike many fathers of teens, however, I see a bright side to the family water bill. We’re not just taking showers. We’re growing grapes.
Our family lives in Israel, the international capital of water recycling, where nearly 90% of our supply is used more than once. In our area of southern Israel, that means the water flowing down our home drain is used on nearby farms to grow some of the tastiest table grapes on Earth. Turns out my daughter is a friend of agriculture.
All over the globe, climate change is turning fresh water into an increasingly precious commodity. Many countries and regions suffer from extended drought. Rising temperatures increase evaporation from reservoirs. Snow falls less and melts sooner on mountains. And rising sea levels increase saltwater intrusion contamination in fresh water wells along coastal communities.
A new video explains how the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will create a new, local, reliable and drought proof supply of drinking water for San Diego residents. The four-minute video, The Clear Solution, shows how recycling and reusing the region’s wastewater will create high quality drinking water.
The East County AWP is one of several potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region. The project is a collaborative partnership between the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, County of San Diego, City of El Cajon and the Helix Water District.
Sustainable water future
Once operational, the East County AWP will provide up to 30% of East San Diego County’s drinking water demands, or almost 13,000 acre-feet of water per year, while eliminating the discharge of 15 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.
“The Clear Solution video simply explains the highly technical advanced water purification process and shows the many benefits the Program will bring to East County to ensure a sustainable water future,” said Allen Carlisle, East County AWP Joint Powers Authority program administrator and Padre Dam Municipal Water District CEO/general manager. “I encourage everyone to visit the Program website, watch the video, sign-up for our newsletter and review other educational information about the Program.”
The video begins with how water is essential to everyday life from drinking a glass of water to washing our hands and cleaning our food. Viewers learn where their water comes from and how important it is to have a local water supply to guard against drought, protect the environment and economize costs.
Advanced water purification
The East County AWP works by using four advanced water purification steps to produce water that is near-distilled in quality. After treatment, the purified water will be blended with water in Lake Jennings and treated again at the R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant before being distributed as safe drinking water.
“Helix is utilizing its water management, treatment and distribution expertise to play a key role in the final step in this process,” said Carlos Lugo, Helix Water District general manager.
The video reminds viewers that the East County AWP will join other cities around the world, in California and as close as Orange County already using similar technology to create purified drinking water. The East County AWP Program will be one of the first, potable reuse projects in California to use the new reservoir augmentation regulations.
The Padre Dam Municipal Water District and the Helix Water District are among the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that work collaboratively to deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.
Thousand Oaks plans to upgrade much of its aging infrastructure over the next two fiscal years, with help from President Joe Biden’s recently enacted American Rescue Plan.
“The city is nearing 60 years old and our infrastructure is aging,” Jaime Boscarino, Thousand Oaks’ finance director, said in presenting the proposed capital improvement budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Thousand Oaks was incorporated in 1964.
Three potable water reuse or recycling projects under development in the San Diego region were highlighted this week during the San Diego Green Building Council’s inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego.”
The Sustainable Building Week programs focused on sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building.
Drought is back in California. Federal and state agencies are warning of potential water shortages in the months ahead. Because of investments made by the San Diego County Water Authority, its member agencies and the region’s water ratepayers, San Diego County is safe from the threat of multiyear droughts.
“We are now facing the reality that it will be a second dry year for California and that is having a significant impact on our water supply,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth in early April. “The Department of Water Resources is working with our federal and state partners to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users. We encourage everyone to look for ways to use water efficiently in their everyday lives.”
California is better prepared for drought than in the past. Following the 2012-2016 drought, DWR enacted many programs focused on managing the state’s water through a strategic, integrated approach with a strong emphasis on water use efficiency and conservation.#californiaforall pic.twitter.com/9D6qUyCHsF
— CA – DWR (@CA_DWR) April 1, 2021
The San Diego region relies far less on supplies from Northern California than in previous decades. A severe drought in the early 1990s forced the region to confront the fact that continuing to provide safe and reliable water demanded a diverse portfolio of supplies instead of near-total reliance on a single source.
“We have sufficient water supplies whether it’s a normal year, which means normal rainfall,” said Jeff Stephenson, water resources manager at the San Diego County Water Authority. “A single dry year. Or a period of five straight dry years. Under those scenarios we have more than sufficient water supplies to meet the needs of the region.”
“The Water Authority has sufficient water supplies whether it is a normal year or multiple dry years,” said
San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Manager Jeff Stephenson. https://t.co/So1C7X0r0x #cawater #cawx #WaterResiliencePortfolio
— San Diego County Water Authority (@sdcwa) April 13, 2021
Investments and planning pay off
Stephenson credits three decades of efforts by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to diversify water sources, including contracts for water transfers with the Imperial Irrigation District and the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, as well as the development of additional water storage capacity in the region.
There are also several water reuse or recycling projects in development throughout San Diego County. The region’s dependence on imported water supply will decrease as these local supply sources are developed and become operational.
Approximately 43,000 acre-feet of recycled water is expected to be reused within the Water Authority’s service area annually by 2025. As the new and expanded potable reuse plants come online, they are projected to produce more than 112,000 acre-feet per year of new drinking water supplies by 2045, enough to meet nearly 18% of the region’s future water demand.
“Our member agencies throughout the region have developed more local supplies, such as recycled water,” Stephenson said. “In addition, the member agencies are developing potable reuse projects, including the city of San Diego’s pure water program which comes online in the future, and all of those supplies really make the region much more able to withstand drought periods.”
This collaborative effort between @PadreDam, @helixwater, @CityofElCajon and County of San Diego
✔️ Guard against drought
✔️ Protect the environment ♻️
✔️ Economize costs for clean, safe, drinking waterhttps://t.co/EeGicfI7J2 pic.twitter.com/WEEDMcVLMr
— EastCountyAWP (@EastCountyAWP) March 31, 2021
Revised drought contingency plan
As a result of the persistent drought conditions, and in accordance with its permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project, DWR has submitted a revised Drought Contingency Plan to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plan provides updated hydrologic conditions and outlines areas of concern for the joint operations of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, water quality, and environmental impacts.
CW3E End of Winter Summary: Total precipitation during WY 2021 has been well below-normal across much of California. Drought conditions have persisted over Northern CA and worsened elsewhere in the state.
— CW3E Scripps (@CW3E_Scripps) April 7, 2021
In late-March, the State Water Resources Control Board mailed approximately 40,000 notices to water right holders, warning of persisting dry conditions and asking them to plan for potential shortages. Officials said the warnings, a result of two years of below average precipitation and below average state reservoir levels, will prompt early action to help minimize short term drought impacts.
“Planting crops and other decisions that are dictated by water supply are made early in the year, so early warnings are vital,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director for the Water Board’s Division of Water Rights. “These letters give water users time to prepare and help minimize the impacts of reduced supplies on businesses, farms and homes.”
The agency suggested in the letter that agricultural water users can implement practical actions now to improve their drought resilience, including reducing irrigated acreage, managing herd size, using innovative irrigation and diversifying water supply portfolios. Urban water users can conserve by putting in drought-resistant landscape, reducing outdoor irrigation and replacing older house fixtures and appliances with more efficient ones.
Sierra snowpack water equivalent really plummeting at the moment–down to 40% of average from 46% less than a week ago. High elevation snow showers poss. next 48 hours, but nothing that will meaningfully affect the extremely early snowmelt that is occurring this yr.#CAwx #CAwater https://t.co/Gb94Na8npA
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) April 13, 2021
Increasing local supply sources
The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies continue to increase local supply sources and make investments to ensure a plentiful, safe, and reliable water supply for the region’s 3.3 million people and its $245 billion economy.
“Current conditions are a reminder of why the Water Authority and its member agencies have invested in locally controlled water sources and facilities such as dams and pipelines that can move water when and where it’s needed,” said the Water Authority’s Stephenson.
Ever since the drought of the early 1990s, the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have been leading advocates for water-smart strategies such as low-flow toilets, low-water landscapes and other conservation tactics. One result is that per capita water use in the San Diego region is down by more than 50% over the past three decades.
Representatives from three potable reuse projects currently under development in San Diego County will participate in the inaugural “Sustainable Building Week San Diego” at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13.
Hosted by the San Diego Green Building Council, Sustainable Building Week offers free virtual events from April 12 – 16 addressing sustainable practices and creating collaboration and networks among San Diego professionals involved with environmental stewardship and green building. All events are free and open to the public.
Vice President Kamala Harris was right on point last year when she said that clean water is a fundamental human right. President Biden has put those words into action by signing an executive order establishing a White House council on environmental justice.
The Fallbrook Public Utility District board approved a change order to the contract with Filanc Alberici JV to construct the Santa Margarita Conjunctive Use Project. A 5-0 FPUD board vote Feb. 22 approved a change order which will add $3,389,801 to the price of the contract.
San Diego is ready to start building the long-awaited Pure Water sewage recycling system, now that city officials have resolved litigation that delayed the project 18 months and increased its estimated cost to $5 billion, city officials say.
Pure Water will boost San Diego’s water independence by recycling 83 million gallons of treated sewage into potable drinking water by 2035.
All regulatory permits have been secured and construction bids are being opened and analyzed for the 10 projects that will make up Pure Water phase one, a large treatment facility slated to open in 2025 near Miramar that will be connected to many miles of pipeline in the northern part of the city.