An irrigation map that clearly shows the layout of your irrigation system can be very helpful when you need to locate components for repair. Photo: Markus Distelrath/Pixabay

Make a Map of Your Irrigation System

It’s easy (and fun) to produce a landscaping plan showing where every shrub and flower is placed on site. Drawing what you can see is relatively easy.

But what about the irrigation system underneath your landscaping? Do you know the location of your water mainline, irrigation system clocks, valves and sprinkler heads?

Understanding the layout of your irrigation system is important so you can accurately locate components for seamless repair. If you plan on adding to or upgrading the system, you’ll want an irrigation map to guide construction.

Steps to making your irrigation map

First, locate all of the sprinkler heads on your property and mark their location on a copy of your landscaping site plan. Also mark the location of the following elements:

• Water meter or irrigation sub meter, and where the water comes from the street onto your property (the main line)
• Irrigation controller
• Shut off valve for turning off the irrigation system
• Pressure regulator – this may be for the irrigation system separate from the house. If your irrigation comes from a pipe that first serves the house, it may be located before it enters the house.
• Irrigation valves
• Hose bibs
• Backflow preventer – if you don’t have one, your sprinkler valves probably do, so don’t worry

Observe and color code which sprinklers go on at the same time when a valve is turned on.

Adapting your existing irrigation system to a new efficient system

Use your irrigation map to determine which parts will work with a new, more efficient system without abandoning everything and starting from scratch. If you’re removing or renovating most of your landscaping, you might need to alter the irrigation. In that case, starting from scratch can end up being the most cost and time efficient alternative.

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at

San Diego regional water quality regulators issued a new permit for the development of permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

New Permit Fosters Sustainable Water Production at Carlsbad Desalination Plant

San Diego regional water quality regulators today issued a permit for the installation of new, technologically advanced and environmentally sensitive seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

The plant – and the new permit – support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s April 29 executive order for California “to think differently and act boldly by developing a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.”

Under the new National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, the Carlsbad plant will continue producing about 50 million gallons a day of high-quality, drought-proof drinking water for the region as Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority develop a permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and associated structures.

Environmentally sensitive facility

The new intake-discharge system is needed for long-term operations of the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant, which started commercial production in December 2015 using water withdrawn from Agua Hedionda Lagoon for once-through cooling at the Encina Power Station. So far, it has produced more than 46 billion gallons of drinking water with reverse osmosis technology.

“The Carlsbad Desalination Plant is an invaluable asset for the state and region that helps us adapt to the changing climate and sustain a $231 billion regional economy,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It is the most environmentally sensitive and technologically advanced plant of its kind in the nation – part of our commitment to collaborative projects and integrated water solutions for San Diego and the Southwest.”

Water supply sustainability

The closure of the power station in December 2018 led to temporary intake-discharge operations that will continue while new, stand-alone desal intake-discharge facilities are built. Conversion to stand-alone operations was anticipated in the 2012 Water Purchase Agreement between Poseidon, which owns and operates the desalination plant, and the Water Authority, which purchases the water for regional use. Currently, the plant provides about 10 percent of the region’s water supply.

“We are very thankful to the Regional Board for supporting the environmental enhancements of the Carlsbad project and water supply reliability for San Diego County,” said Poseidon CEO Carlos Riva. “This plant will continue to be a vital regional resource for decades to come and an example of how environmental stewardship can go hand-in-hand with water supply sustainability.”

Peter MacLaggan, senior vice president of project development with Poseidon Water, describes the water quality improvement at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant during a regional water quality control board public hearing in San Diego on May 8, 2019.

Transition in three phases

With the permit in hand, the transition to the new intake and discharge facilities will be implemented in three phases:

  • Temporary Operations – NRG, which owns Encina Power Station, continues to operate the water circulation pumps while an interim intake system is constructed.
  • Interim Operations – Expected to begin in mid-2020, this phase uses new fish-friendly pumps as a replacement for the existing circulation pumps. A new, permanent screened intake system also will be designed and built in the lagoon during this phase of operation. The new intake will rely on innovative technology, including 1 mm screens that will further enhance marine life protection.
  • Permanent Operations – The new submerged, screened-intake system is expected to be connected in late 2023, achieving the best available technology to minimize impacts to marine life in full compliance with the 2015 California Ocean Plan Amendment.

Once permanent operations begin, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant will be the first to comply with the 2015 Ocean Plan Amendment, designed to advance ocean water as a reliable supplement to traditional water supplies while protecting marine life and water quality.

Environmental stewardship

Poseidon is also protecting the coastal environment by taking over responsibility for the preservation of Agua Hedionda Lagoon from NRG. As the lagoon’s steward, Poseidon Water is taking responsibility for ensuring the man-made lagoon continues to realize the life-sustaining benefits of an open connection to the Pacific Ocean through periodic maintenance dredging.

Dredging keeps sand from blocking the flow of ocean water in and out of the lagoon, maintaining its tidal circulation, which is needed to maintain a healthy marine ecosystem, support extensive recreational uses, sustainable aquaculture at Carlsbad Aquafarm, and a white seabass hatchery operated by Hubbs-SeaWorld. Dredging also helps replenish the sand on Carlsbad State Beach, which otherwise would revert to historical cobble-stone, with sand that is relocated from the lagoon to nearby shoreline.

Temporary operations are anticipated to cost about $6.5 million annually, increasing the cost of water from the plant in 2020 by about $135 per acre-foot. Permanent facilities are projected to cost between $66 million and $83 million. The Water Authority is seeking state grant funds to defray some of that cost.

The Water Authority purchases up to 56,000 acre-feet of water from the Carlsbad plant per year – enough to serve approximately 400,000 people annually. The plant is a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to diversify the county’s water supply portfolio and minimize vulnerability to drought or other water supply emergencies.

Poseidon Water Assumes Stewardship Of Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Poseidon Water, a national leader in the development of water supply and treatment projects using a public-private partnership approach, furthered its commitment to protect and preserve San Diego’s coastal environment by assuming stewardship of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad.The Agua Hedionda Lagoon encompasses over 400 acres of marine, estuarine and wetlands habitat teeming with hundreds of fish, invertebrate and bird species.

Water levels in Lake Mead have been declining due to a long-term drought in the Colorado River Basin. Photo: National Park Service

OPINION: San Diego Is Ready For Some Big Water Solutions

Back in the early 1990s — near the start of my career at San Diego City Hall — the San Diego County Water Authority launched a historic effort to sustain the region’s economy and quality of life by diversifying our water supplies so that we didn’t depend on one source for 95 percent of our water. That effort took many forms, many billions of dollars and more than two decades — but it paid off in spades. Even though we are at the literal end of the pipeline, today we have among the most diversified and secure water supply systems anywhere.

Full story here:




The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors supports a statewide solution to provide safe, reliable drinking water to all residents. Photo: Traphitho-Cesar-Augusto-Ramirez-VallejoPixabayCC

Water Authority Seeks Statewide Solution to Drinking Water Woes

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on March 28 threw its support behind a coordinated statewide approach to ensure that all communities in California have daily access to safe, reliable drinking water.

The California State Water Resources Control Board has identified 329 water systems statewide that serve contaminated drinking water or cannot provide reliable water service due to unsound infrastructure or lack of resources. Most of the systems are in rural areas and serve fewer than 10,000 people.

More than a half-dozen bills have been introduced in Sacramento this legislative session to provide safe and reliable water supplies for disadvantaged communities in the Central and Salinas Valleys.

The Water Authority Board supports a plan to combine several measures into a unified legislative package.

“By amending several components of the relevant bills and linking them in a modified single reform package, we would advance a more comprehensive fix to drinking water quality issues throughout the state,” said Glenn Farrel, government relations manager for the Water Authority.

Safe Drinking Water Trust Fund

In addition, the Water Authority Board voted to support Senate Bills 414 and 669, both of which provide alternatives to water tax proposals in the Legislature that the agency helped defeat last year.

  • SB 414 would establish the Small System Water Authority Act of 2019 and authorize the creation of small system water authorities that could absorb, improve and competently operate public water systems that are chronically out of compliance with drinking water standards.
  • SB 669 would create the Safe Drinking Water Trust Fund to collect federal contributions, voluntary contributions, gifts, grants, bequests, transfers by the Legislature from the General Fund and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, funding from authorized general obligation bond acts, and other sources. Revenues would help community water systems in disadvantaged communities that chronically fail to meet federal and state drinking water standards and do not have the money to pay for operation and maintenance costs to comply with those standards.

The Water Authority Board voted to oppose SB 200, unless it is amended to address numerous concerns that are outlined in the staff report to the Water Authority’s Board.

A fourth legislative measure, an Administration Budget Trailer Bill: Environmental Justice – Safe and Affordable Drinking Water and Exide Cleanup, would impose a tax on water and agricultural activities to finance safe drinking water efforts. The Board voted to oppose the budget trailer bill unless it is amended, among other things, to remove water tax provisions and instead appropriate $1 billion in budget surplus funds to the Safe Drinking Water Trust Fund.

Water Resources Engineer Sami Sweis holds the Nautilus in his right hand and a foam ball in his left hand that the high-tech device is placed in before it is inserted into a water pipeline to scan for potential leaks. Photo: Water Authority

High-Tech Tools Help Detect Possible Pipeline Problems

It’s a whole new ballgame for the San Diego County Water Authority when it comes to finding leaks in major pipelines with cutting-edge technology.

One new tech tool deployed for the first time in February actually looks like a tennis ball that floats through water-filled pipelines scanning for potential trouble.

Of course, the new device is much more complex inside than a tennis ball – in fact, the Nautilus is among the most advanced tools of its kind in the world.  It not only detects defects that are invisible to the human eye, it does so without requiring pipes to be drained, which saves a significant amount of water and disruption to customers.

Innovation Leader

The Nautilus is just the latest component of the Water Authority’s cutting-edge Asset Management Program that has been adopting and developing innovative tools for more than two decades. In fact, the Water Authority has been recognized by the American Water Works Association as a leader in the water industry for its focus on asset condition assessment, risk management, proactive pipeline replacement, and use of cutting-edge technology that saves ratepayers money.

“These high-tech tools are cost-effective and fit perfectly with our proactive approach to managing our infrastructure, including 310 miles of large diameter pipelines and 1,400 pipeline structures,” said Nathan Faber, an operations and maintenance manager with the Water Authority. “Our mission is to find potential failures in the system in advance, rather than react after a failure.”

‘Listening’ for leaks

The Nautilus uses acoustic feedback to detect leaks or abnormalities in active pipelines without causing any disruption to water service or supply, Faber said. About the size of a tennis ball, the Nautilus is placed inside a larger, sterilized foam ball, to float through operating pipelines.

For the First Aqueduct scan, 26 sensors, called synchronizers, were installed on various structures on the outside of the pipeline. Those sensors relayed information to the Nautilus as it floated between checkpoints. No leaks were discovered in the tested portions of the pipeline.

Digital Resolution

A scan from the LIDAR device shows precise and highly-accurate digital measurements that pinpoint pipeline problems. Photo: Water Authority

A scan from the LIDAR device shows precise and highly-accurate digital measurements that pinpoint pipeline problems. Photo: Water Authority

Leveraging new technology to gather data and pinpoint pipeline problems saves water and money.

“Responding or reacting after failures can cost up to six times the cost of proactive repairs,” Faber said.

He pointed to a recent pipeline repair project in La Mesa, where a Light Detection and Ranging device, or LIDAR, was used inside a pipe to provide highly-accurate digital measurements.

“The LIDAR took 1,600 measurements in five seconds,” Faber said. “The high-resolution images showed stressed pipe and verified cracking issues that allowed crews to make an efficient, proactive repair.”


SB 559 Would Unblock Valley’s Major Water Artery

A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside. Earlier this month, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), representing the 14th Senate District encompassing part of Tulare County, along with principal co-authors Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), gathered along the Friant-Kern Canal in Terra Bella to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 559. The bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair subsidence in the canal caused during the historic drought. 

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.


View looking north of the First Aqueduct right of way in Valley Center. Photo: Water Authority

Historic Pipeline Project Boosts Long-Term Water Reliability

San Diego County Water Authority crews successfully completed the first of three coordinated shutdowns of the First Aqueduct in early March to launch a major renovation of dozens of structures on two pipelines, including the historic Pipeline 1 that first delivered imported water to the region in 1947.

The series of shutdowns was carefully planned for nearly four years to minimize impacts on the community and retail water agencies during retrofits of Pipelines 1 and 2, which comprise the First Aqueduct.

“The First Aqueduct has been a very reliable source of imported water for more than 70 years,” said Chris Castaing, operations and maintenance manager at the Water Authority. “These critical upgrades will make sure we can operate and maintain the pipelines for another several decades to transport water to the region for future generations.”

Started during the Water Authority’s 75th anniversary year, the $30 million First Aqueduct structure and lining renovation project is among the most complicated pipeline retrofits in agency history.

During the next two years, upgrades include replacing the lining on the steel pipe sections; removing 19 associated structures; and retrofitting 41 structures – all without jeopardizing water service to the region.

Project will enhance reliability and flexibility of regional water system

Crews complete work on and seal the top of a bifurcation structure. Photo: Water Authority

Crews complete work on and seal the top of a bifurcation structure. Photo: Water Authority

Pipeline structures that will be rehabilitated include valves, blowoffs, pump wells and access ways.

Approximately 4 miles of failing pipeline lining on the steel pipe sections will be carefully removed and replaced with new cement mortar lining. Cement mortar is the preferred material, because it protects the interior of the steel pipe from corrosion and premature failure, has a longer life, and is easier to maintain. The project also will add redundant connections to six flow control facilities between the two pipelines, greatly improving the aqueduct’s operational flexibility.

During the first shutdown between February 24 and March 5, crews isolated sections of the pipeline and took them out of service so work can be safely performed on those sections throughout the year. In late 2019, a second 10-day shutdown will allow crews to switch flows to the upgraded sections of pipe and isolate other sections for repairs.

In addition to completing the First Aqueduct structure and lining renovation project, the Water Authority also will perform assessments of 27 miles of the pipeline to determine if additional upgrades will be needed.

A Wet Winter Will Likely Lead To A Whale Of A Year For Hydro In California

Plenty of snow in the Sierra and lots of rain just about everywhere else in California have helped alleviate drought conditions across the state. But there’s also another positive byproduct of the wet winter — a likely boost in the amount of hydroelectricity in California’s energy mix. “I’m looking at the reservoirs in the state and I see almost all of them at the historical average in terms of storage,” said Ghassan Alqaser, chief of the State Water Project Power and Risk Office at the California Department of Water Resources. “With that, we expect an above average hydro year.”