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The City of Escondido’s innovative water treatment and saving methods offers a model for other drought-stricken cities. Escondido recognized

City of Escondido Recognized as Water Saving Model

As California endures its worst drought in 1,200 years, San Diego County’s water industry has developed diversified sources and accelerated conservation practices to secure its water supply for the future.

The City of Escondido’s innovative water treatment and saving methods offers a model for other drought-stricken cities. Escondido has led the San Diego region on climate change mitigation and was recently ranked first in San Diego County for its performance and progress on its Climate Action Plan.

  • Escondido earned the highest score (97.5) on the 2022 Climate Action Plan Report Card.
  • The overall score is based on its increasing climate equity, green infrastructure, and food availability.
  • Escondido joined the Clean Energy Alliance to bring Community Choice Energy to the City’s residents and local businesses in 2023.

“Not only is Escondido leading in water conservation, but the quality of our water is also noteworthy,” said Christopher McKinney, City of Escondido Director of Water Utilities. “Our advanced water treatment plants ensure our drinking water meets or exceeds all state and federal health standards for water quality as noted in the 2021 Water Quality Report. We also took a more ambitious approach to incorporate new and more stringent quality control processes over the last two years, making the Escondido Water Quality Lab one of only two California labs already compliant with new accreditation standards.”

Investing in meeting new water measures

Local farmers formed the Escondido Irrigation District in 1888 to ensure both residents and the booming agricultural sector had steady water access. Photo: City of Escondido recognized

Local farmers formed the Escondido Irrigation District in 1888 to ensure both residents and the booming agricultural sector had steady water access. Photo: City of Escondido

When Escondido was incorporated as a city in 1888, the influx of families moving to the area quickly pressured the water supply. Within a year, local farmers formed the Escondido Irrigation District to ensure both residents and the booming agricultural sector had steady water access.

The City of Escondido, and San Diego County as a whole, has invested significant energy and resources into meeting new water measures, such as:

  • Household water restrictions regarding irrigation, landscaping, and recreational water use.
  • Customer-request-only water conservation regulations at restaurants, hotels, and other public spaces.
  • Converting agricultural land from untreated water sources to treated water sources.

“Escondido has a long history of being ahead of the curve on sustainable practices,” said Jennifer Schoeneck, City of Escondido Deputy Director of Economic Development. “Our proactive and comprehensive strategy to water conservation has made our city an enviable locale for innovative companies and new and novel water-saving solutions.”

Escondido’s methods of sustainability

Innovative water-saving techniques in Escondido are driven in part by the city’s agricultural sector and commitment to regenerative practices. Photo: City of Escondido recognized

Innovative water-saving techniques in Escondido are driven in part by the city’s agricultural sector and commitment to regenerative practices. Photo: City of Escondido

Innovative water-saving techniques in Escondido are driven in part by the city’s agricultural sector and commitment to regenerative practices. The city takes a multifaceted approach when it comes to effective water conservation methods.

The City of Escondido will put its new water filtration system into operation in 2023. The water filtration system takes treated water up to the recycled water standard and makes it usable for agriculture irrigation, supporting area growers, and farmers. The recycled water program will reduce the cost of water by as much as 40 % and produce a reliable, drought-proof supply.

For residents, the City of Escondido offers water-wise workshops, classes, programs, and contests to implement drought-tolerating landscaping. Since 1991, fourth graders in the Escondido water district have participated in an annual poster contest, illustrating the value of water resources.

Residents and businesses who invest in water-saving solutions can participate in a variety of rebate programs.

“We take regenerative practices seriously in Escondido,” said Escondido City Manager Sean McGlynn. “Shifting towards water and energy independence, zero waste, and clean technologies is a top priority for the City.”

(Editor’s Note: The City of Escondido is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Rebates-Grass-Drought-incentives

New State Tax Break and Lawn Removal Rebates Save Money, Water

Fall is the perfect time to yank those thirsty lawns and install drought-tolerant landscapes with the help of cooler days and major financial incentives.

Homeowners and businesses in San Diego County can receive between $2 and $4 per square foot for removing grass and replacing it with low water-use plants that are better suited to withstand the hot and dry conditions that continue to hammer the West.

All customers are eligible for the base rebate of $2 per square foot, but other agencies offer additional funding, including the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego.

Rebates to remove lawns available; tax incentives

In addition, a newly signed state law exempts local rebates for grass replacement from state income tax, ensuring more dollars can be spent creating beautiful and functional WaterSmart yards.

“Drought conditions make it imperative to boost water conservation in San Diego County and across the state,” said Sandra L. Kerl, general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “Using California tax incentives and regional rebates to install WaterSmart landscapes is a clear winner for stretching water supplies both today and for generations to come.”

Low water-use plants

California is entering a fourth straight year of drought, which climatologists say is one of the worst in state history. To make matters worse, a 22-year “megadrought” has impacted the Colorado River, which is the state’s other key source of California water supply. The impacts of a hotter, drier climate make replacing turfgrass with low water-use plants a key part of conserving our most precious natural resource.

For the past 30 years, the Water Authority and its member agencies have promoted water-use efficiency through a variety of tools such as rebates, classes, and other resources available across their service areas. Overall per capita water use in the county is down more than 40% since 1990, and the vast majority of county residents believe that water-use efficiency is a civic duty.

Landscaping upgrades are particularly important because more than half of all residential water use is outdoors. Rebates and incentives available to residents and businesses in San Diego County are at: www.sdcwa.org/your-water/conservation/.

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $240 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 24 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.)

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

North County Water Agencies Offers Low‐Cost Rain Barrels to Help Customers Save Water

Encinitas, Calif. — To encourage water conservation as drought conditions persist, Carlsbad Municipal Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, and Santa Fe Irrigation District have partnered to offer discounted rain barrels to area residents this fall. Collecting rainwater for future use not only can save drinking water and money, but also reduces irrigation runoff that can carry pollutants into local waterways and beaches.

Although average rainfall in San Diego County is just under ten inches annually, even light rain can provide a sufficient amount of water for later use. For example, a roof with a 2,000‐square‐foot surface area can capture 300 gallons from only a quarter inch of rain.

Rain barrels at Solana Center

rain barrel-water conservation-drought-rain barrels

Rain barrels ordered from October 1 to November 30 will be available for pick up at Solana Center for Environmental Innovation located at 137 North El Camino Real in Encinitas. Photo: Solana Center

Fifty‐gallon barrels are on sale for $97, with a final cost of $62 after a $35 rebate from water wholesaler Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Rebates on rain barrels and other water‐saving measures are available at www.socalwatersmart.com.

Rain barrels ordered from October 1 to November 30 will be available for pick up at Solana Center for Environmental Innovation located at 137 North El Camino Real in Encinitas. Visit www.solanacenter.org/rain‐barrels for more information and to order rain barrels.

Catching rain in barrels not only saves water for use in gardening and landscaping but also prevents rainwater from draining to the ocean and picking up contaminants along the way.

(Editor’s note: The City of Carlsbad, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District and the Santa Fe Irrigation District are four of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Fall Water-Saving Tips

Water-saving actions by everyone in San Diego County during the current drought can help conserve more of our most precious resource.

While San Diego County continues to have enough water due to long-term investments in water sources and conservation, the region’s long-term supply reliability depends on a continued commitment to water-use efficiency indoors and outdoors by homes and businesses both large and small.

OMWD Offers Free Water-Wise Landscape Design Workshop on October 8

Olivenhain Municipal Water District invites members of the public to attend a free water-wise landscape design workshop on Saturday, October 8 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event will be held at OMWD’s headquarters at 1966 Olivenhain Road in Encinitas. Drought survival kits will also be available free of charge, featuring water reuse buckets, hose nozzles, moisture sensors, and other water-saving tools.

OMWD Board President Larry Watt will lead a discussion about drought conditions. Steve Sherman of California Landscape Technologies will follow with an informative and interactive workshop that will feature methods to reduce outdoor water use and increase irrigation efficiencies. Registration for the workshop is available at www.olivenhain.com/events.

Fall tips-water saving-drought

Fall Water-Saving Tips

Water-saving actions by everyone in San Diego County during the current drought can help conserve more of our most precious resource.

While San Diego County continues to have enough water due to long-term investments in water sources and conservation, the region’s long-term supply reliability depends on a continued commitment to water-use efficiency indoors and outdoors by homes and businesses both large and small.

Here are some timely tips to save water this fall.

Simple Water-Saving Tips For Fall

Find a discount. Take advantage of rebates on products that help reduce indoor and outdoor water use.

Shorten the shower. Keep showers to five minutes or fewer and save 2.5 gallons per minute.

Go low. Install aerators on faucets and low-flow showerheads to instantly save water every time you turn the tap.

Deploy the drip. Irrigate gardens with drip systems that minimize water waste by delivering water right at the roots.

Get smart. Install weather-based irrigation controllers in your landscape to take advantage of the latest smart technology that maximizes water-use efficiency.

Monitor the moisture. Use moisture meters to determine when and how much water plants need.

Embrace the broom. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, and patios.

Check your water footprint. Use an online water-use calculator to assess how much water your home uses compared to a WaterSmart home.

Turn to a pro. When it’s time to hire a landscaping professional, start with the list of Qualified Water-Efficient Landscapers who can make sure you are making the most of every drop.

Plant with perfection. Check out all the beautiful WaterSmart plant options that pair perfectly with San Diego County’s Mediterranean climate.

Tap technology

Residents can take advantage of savings on a variety of water-saving technologies such as high-efficiency clothes washers and toilets, rain barrels and irrigation nozzles. Residents can schedule free WaterSmart Checkups to make their properties more water-efficient.

Check out the WaterSmart Living series of articles for helpful landscape makeover information

For more tips, resources and rebates, go to watersmartsd.org.

Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures, so summer plant care is easy with a little planning. Photo: Annie Spratt/Pixabay

Find the Right Plant for Your Landscape Plans Online

If you’re looking to upgrade your landscape or just love gardens, it can be challenging to choose the right plant that will thrive within your WaterSmart Living landscape plans for your specific conditions.

The online plant finder WaterSmart Landscaping in San Diego County can assist you through a comprehensive database of choices well suited to this region’s Mediterranean climate.

Pollinators and birds are attracted to native plants like this Stonecrop (Crassulae). Photo: City of Escondido

Pollinators and birds are attracted to native plants like this Stonecrop (Crassulae). Photo: City of Escondido

This interactive gardening tool has thousands of pictures of plants and garden designs. Take visual tours of beautiful, water-efficient landscapes through photographs that include hotlinks to plant information screens.

Photos are organized by landscape category to make them easy to find. Explore galleries of ideas for back yards, front yards, hillsides, patios, planters, and other outdoor living areas.

If you’re simply looking at plants, the online guide offers more than 1,000 plants and search tools that make plants easy to find.

Online guide features specialty plant sections

right plant

Beach strawberry makes an attractive lawn substitute. Photo: Flickr

Specialty sections include:

  • Lawn alternatives: Create non-traditional lawn space without thirsty turf.
  • Pollinator attracting plants: Pollinator gardens with flowers that provide pollen and nectar for pollinating insects provide vital nutrients to support the pollinator population, and preserve agriculture, ecosystems, and biodiversity.
  • Plants for fire safety: trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines, and perennials that can help reduce fire intensity and do not contribute significantly to fuel the fire due to moisture or chemical content, or total volume.
  • California natives: Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less water. They also provide vital habitat for birds and other wildlife and preserve biodiversity.you’re exploring, save plant and garden images you like to your plant list, then print reports about them before you shop.
Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures, so summer plant care is easy with a little planning. Photo: Annie Spratt/Pixabay

Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures, so summer plant care is easy with a little planning. Photo: Annie Spratt/Pixabay

Go to the website to get started

Click through the navigation bar to see the lists and available resources.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

Vallecitos Water District Landscape Makeover Winners Lead By Example

Three San Marcos families invested their time and effort into transforming their front yards into beautiful water-efficient designs. Their hard work has paid off in lower water bills and being named the winners of the 2022 Vallecitos Water District Landscape Makeover Contest.

 

The Delaplanes received first place due to the addition of a working bioswale. Photo: Vallecitos Water District landscape makeover

Vallecitos Water District Landscape Makeover Winners Lead By Example

Three San Marcos families invested their time and effort into transforming their front yards into beautiful water-efficient designs. Their hard work has paid off in lower water bills and being named the winners of the 2022 Vallecitos Water District Landscape Makeover Contest.

See a video featuring all three winning families

Father and Son Win First Place

The winning project created by John and Jay Delaplane started as a way for John to reconnect after his father Jay retired. John saw the landscaping display in front of the Vallecitos Water District building, inspiring him to get started. Another catalyst was the opportunity to earn a turf removal rebate. “You can almost cover the costs if you do the work yourself,” said John.

The Delaplane home before its transformation. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District public information representative and UCCE Master Gardener Lisa Urabe said the Delaplanes received first place among many excellent entries due to the addition of a working bioswale.

“Some people will just put rocks down and make it a pretty dry riverbed, but this is a working bioswale,” said Urabe. Bioswales redirect and absorb rainwater running off roofs, preventing stormwater pollutants from reaching local waterways and the Pacific Ocean. “By installing a bioswale, it’s collecting all that water. It’s also helping to water those plants naturally. We highly recommend them,” said Urabe.

UCCE Master Gardener Lisa Urabe views the bioswale installed by the Delaplanes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

UCCE Master Gardener Lisa Urabe views the bioswale installed by the Delaplanes. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

“Growing up, my dad taught me about being environmentally conscious when we can,” said John Delaplane. “If everyone does their little part, it really does add up. A big reason we did it is to teach these lessons to my daughter, so she grows up with that same mindset.”

Family Pride Shines for Chen Family

The Chens transformed their love for succulents into an award-winning landscape makeover. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Chens transformed their love for succulents into an award-winning landscape makeover. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Davis and Stephanie Chen and their two children all pitched in on their landscape makeover project. Their new design won second place.

After 18 years of living in their San Marcos home, Stephanie Chen said she decided to change their landscaping, inspired by her love for succulents. “I wanted to create something I like and enjoy. One day a crazy idea came to me – lucky my family supported me,” said Chen.

San Diego based landscape designer Laura Eubanks paid a visit to the Chens new landscape inspired by her videos. Photo: Vallecitos Water District landscape makeover

Stephanie Chen visited the home of San Diego-based landscape designer Laura Eubanks. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Daughter Brittany Chen said the family watched videos by San Diego based landscape designer Laura Eubanks to get inspiration.

“We would watch and brainstorm about it,” said Brittany. “The videos were super helpful. They not only taught us how to design a garden but also properly care for our garden, so they grow beautifully.”

David Chen said the Socal Turf Replacement program and the landscape makeover content gave them a lot of incentive to complete this project. “I encourage everybody to give it a try,” he said.

DIY Landscape Project Wins Third Place

Tania and Tony Lopez tackled their landscape makeover on their own. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Tania and Tony Lopez tackled their landscape makeover on their own. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Married couple Tania and Tony Lopez tackled their landscape makeover on their own after receiving a district brochure and decided to change their landscape to save water. Their landscaping only needs minimal hand watering.

“It’s been in since March, and it’s doing pretty well,” said Tania Lopez, whose favorite features are the agaves and golden barrel. “Water conservation is very important. In California, we’re in a drought all the time. Being able to save water is a good thing.”

Five-year-old daughter Ava Lopez has gotten the message. “It’s important to save water for the earth,” said Ava.

Rebates, tips, classes, and other water-saving information: sdcwa.org/your-water/conservation/.

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

WaterSmart Living Landscapes Come in Many Styles

Using water efficiently is a way of life and an important responsibility in a beautiful, Mediterranean climate like San Diego County. WaterSmart landscaping is all about rethinking the way limited water resources are applied and making smart choices to reduce outdoor water use.