County Approves Special Agricultural Water Program

The San Diego County Water Authority board recently approved a permanent, special agricultural water rate structure that offers lower rates to farmers in exchange for lower water supply reliability.

Unlike the current, temporary program, the new program will let new participants join as a way to strengthen the region’s multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry.

Board Supports Countywide Vote on Potential Member Agency Detachment

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors last week authorized actions to seek to ensure all San Diego County voters are heard on plans by the Rainbow and Fallbrook water agencies to leave the regional water wholesaler and instead join a Riverside County water agency.

The Board of Directors approved a resolution to ask the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission – known as San Diego LAFCO – to require approval by voters across the Water Authority’s service area of any proposed “detachment” by the Rainbow Municipal Water District and the Fallbrook Public Utility District from the Water Authority. Detachment from the Water Authority has potential impacts for water agencies, fire districts and water ratepayers across San Diego County.

Rep. Mike Levin and San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer on November 6, 2019.

Rep. Levin Touts Bipartisan Efforts to Fund Water Supply Reliability

Rep. Mike Levin said California’s innovations and investments in water supply reliability and renewable energy are a model for the nation – and that the state’s efforts protect the environment while growing the economy at the same time.

Levin, an attorney and congressman from San Juan Capistrano, represents the 49th District, which includes, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Vista, Oceanside and a portion of southern Orange County.

He made his remarks November 6 during a Legislative Roundtable at the San Diego County Water Authority attended by water agency board members and staff, local civic and business leaders and Citizens Water Academy graduates.

Water supply reliability through supply diversification

“We need a diverse array of resources for water,” said Levin. “Water is a finite resource that we often take for granted.”

The Water Authority periodically holds Legislative Roundtables to hear about water-related issues in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. More than 60 people attended the Wednesday event, asking Levin a variety of questions about water, energy and climate change.

In his first 11 months in office, he has sponsored and co-sponsored the following bills:

  • Border Water Infrastructure Improvement Act
  • Desalination Development Act
  • Water Recycling Investment and Improvement Act
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act
  • Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act

Desalination Development Act introduced

Levin cited the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant as an example of the “deep innovation” necessary to increase sustainability, referencing legislation he introduced to increase federal funding for desalination projects.

He introduced that legislation in July 2019 to raise the funding authorization in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act for desalination projects to $260 million.

Levin said his bill would help strengthen regional water supplies by supporting projects like the South Coast Water District’s Doheny Ocean Desalination Project and the City of Oceanside’s Mission Basin Groundwater Purification Facility Well Expansion and Brine Minimization Project.

California’s clean energy economy a ‘model for the nation’

He also said California has proven that a clean energy economy works to enhance environmental sustainability and jobs.

“We’re leading the way in California, and at the end of the day, we’ve developed a clean energy economy,” Levin said. “The state is a model for the country in how to protect the environment and grow the economy.”

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward a Drought-Proof Supply

The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.

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

Water Agencies Approve Funds for East County Advanced Water Purification Project

The East County Advanced Water Purification Project is moving forward after a new funding agreement was approved.

The program’s partner agencies – Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, Helix Water District and the County of San Diego – recently approved the Interim Funding Agreement. The final vote from the County of San Diego took place July 10.

The project is expected to begin producing water in 2025.

Purified water reduces dependence on imported water

The agreement requires each agency to commit $2.35 million ($9.4 million total) toward the program, with the aim to create a new, local, sustainable, and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.

“This is an important milestone toward the completion of this innovative and much-needed program, said Allen Carlisle, CEO and general manager of Padre Dam Municipal Water District. “Working together with our partners, we are moving one step closer to reducing our dependence on imported water and putting the mechanisms in place to support our economy and quality of life well into the future.”

Sustainable drinking water project

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

An artist’s rendering of the new Padre Dam Visitor Center at the East County Water Purification Treatment Center. Graphic: Courtesy Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Once complete, the East County Advanced Water Purification Program will generate up to 11.5 million gallons per day of new drinking water. This represents approximately 30 percent of current drinking water consumption for residents within the Padre Dam service area (Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest), and the Helix service area (including the cities of Lemon Grove, La Mesa, and El Cajon, and the Spring Valley area). This represents approximately 373,000 residents.

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 producing water that is near-distilled in quality. The purified water will then be blended with water in Lake Jennings, treated again at the Helix R.M. Levy Water Treatment Plant and then distributed into the drinking water supply.

Industry Day planned for prospective designers and contractors

Next steps for the project include formation of a Joint Powers Authority between Padre Dam Municipal Water District, the City of El Cajon, and the County of San Diego to serve as the governing body for the program.

An industry day is being planned in mid-August to provide notice to prospective designers and contractors on the initiation of a selection process for the progressive design-build packages that will begin posting in Fall 2019.

Partner agencies also continue to pursue grant and loan opportunities to help fund the estimated $528 million project.

The water-recycling project is intended to diversify East County’s drinking water supply and reduce the region’s dependence on imported water. It also helps the region in achieving long-term compliance with the Clean Water Act.

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

READ MORE: East County Advanced Water Purification Project On Track for 2025

Switchfoot Guitarist Jon Foreman Sings Praises of San Diego Water Reliability

Switchfoot Guitarist Jon Foreman Sings Praises of San Diego Water Supply Reliability

The San Diego County Water Authority has partnered with San Diego singer and guitarist Jon Foreman of Switchfoot to create a series of videos highlighting the value of water to the region’s economy and quality of life.

From sustaining world-famous tourist destinations to making world-class guitars, the San Diego lifestyle wouldn’t be possible without clean and reliable water supplies delivered by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.

“It takes a huge investment from the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies to maintain the pipes that deliver water across our region,” Foreman says in one of the videos.

Reliable water supply fuels San Diego economy

The video series includes virtual tours of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir, and the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon.

Foreman talks with Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., about the importance of water to some of the region’s biggest industries.

He also tours the Water Conservation Garden, where residents and businesses can learn how to use water efficiently and “make the most out of every drop.”

BRO-AM brought to you by water

The Water Authority is sponsoring Switchfoot’s annual BRO-AM beach festival, which is set for June 29 at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.

The Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program is designed to convey the importance of safe and reliable water supplies for sustaining the region’s 3.3 million people and its $231 billion economy.

Starting in 2018, the Water Authority has highlighted some of the region’s core industries – tourism, manufacturing, brewing and agriculture – that would not exist without substantial investments in water supply reliability by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.