San Diego Region Attracts More Than $15 Million for Water Projects

Short Title
Region Attracts More Than $15 Million for Water Projects
Collaborative effort attracts drought response grant funds for improving water supply reliability

The San Diego region has been awarded more than $15 million in fast-tracked funding by the state Department of Water Resources for a variety of projects aimed at increasing local water supplies and decreasing demands. Together, the projects will produce or save more than 12,000 acre-feet of water annually, enough to serve nearly 25,000 typical four-person homes.

The state grant from voter-approved Proposition 84 (2006) provides funds for projects identified in the 2013 San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, which was developed collaboratively by a group comprising staff from the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority, along with an array of regional stakeholders.

The selected local projects will expand groundwater desalination and water recycling, improve water quality, and enhance water conservation initiatives such as the regional WaterSmart Turf Replacement Program. Work on six of the seven funded projects is expected to begin within the next several months. In the current round of projects, all $15,074,938 is going to the Water Authority or its member agencies – Carlsbad Municipal Water District, Fallbrook Public Utility District, Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District, the City of San Diego and Sweetwater Authority.

“These projects will create more locally controlled, drought-proof water supplies, and they will help boost regional water conservation efforts,” said Mark Stadler, the San Diego IRWM Program manager. “By working together, the San Diego region has once again leveraged local dollars for investments in projects that will help secure greater water supply reliability for our region.”

Funded projects are:

  • Reynolds Groundwater Desalination Facility Expansion ($5 million in grant funding – Sweetwater Authority) – This project will increase production of potable water from desalinated brackish groundwater by 5,200 acre-feet per year, drill five new wells in the San Diego Formation and construct an additional 13,200 linear feet of pipeline. Desalinated groundwater produced by the project will be added directly to the potable supply, offsetting need for imported water. The water that is produced will be used by Sweetwater and its project partner, the City of San Diego.
  • Carlsbad Recycled Water Plant and Distribution System Expansion ($4 million in grant funding – Carlsbad MWD) – This project will increase treatment capacity at the Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility. In total, it will offset 353 acre-feet per year of potable water demands, primarily through delivery of recycled water to previously identified customers through construction of a new pipeline and retrofits. Olivenhain Municipal Water District is a project partner.
  • Regional Emergency Storage and Conveyance System Intertie Optimization ($2,554,500 in grant funding – City of San Diego) – This project will address water quality issues that may limit the movement of water from Lake Hodges to the regional water supply and conveyance system. The project includes the installation of a device that will oxygenate the deep portions of the reservoir and improve water quality, increasing the volume of useable water. This project is expected to generate 5,377 acre-feet per year of local supplies. The Water Authority, Santa Fe Irrigation District and San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy are project partners.
  • Regional Demand Management Program Expansion ($1,008,912 in grant funding – Water Authority) – This project includes four components: 1) WaterSmart Landscape Efficiency Program, which will include financial incentives to reduce outdoor water use, 2) Detention facility retrofit program, 3) Turf replacement rebate program, and 4) Landscape workshops to provide education regarding water-efficient landscaping. The landscape efficiency and turf rebate programs will continue work by the Water Authority and partner agencies to reduce irrigation inefficiencies and replace water-intensive grass with WaterSmart landscaping in residential and commercial settings. The detention facility retrofit will reduce water waste by installing timers on existing low-flow toilets at a juvenile detention facility. In total, the project is expected to result in 179 acre-feet per year of water savings. Partners are San Diego Gas & Electric, the California Landscape Contractors Association, and the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies.
  • Fallbrook Plant Nurseries Recycled Water Distribution System Expansion ($772,000 in grant funding – Fallbrook PUD) – This project will extend the district’s existing recycled water line to serve growers in the southeastern part of its service area. Fallbrook already produces recycled water and discharges excess amounts to the ocean. By delivering 642 acre-feet per year of additional recycled water to users, Fallbrook will offset potable water demand and reduce discharges to the ocean. Project partners are the Mission Resource Conservation District and the San Diego County Farm Bureau.
  • San Diego Water-Use Reduction Program ($699,520 in grant funding – City of San Diego) – This project includes two programs: the Pressure Regulator Incentive Pilot and the Recycled Water Filling Station. Through a rebate program, the city will encourage installation of about 5,000 pressure regulators, which reduce the pressure of water entering homes to the recommended functional range and decrease leaks. The multi-user recycled water filling station at the North City Water Reclamation Plant will provide recycled water for permitted construction-related activities such as dust suppression. The project is anticipated to result in a combined potable water savings of 381 acre-feet per year.
  • Rincon Customer-Driven Demand Management Program ($600,927 in grant funding – Rincon del Diablo MWD) – This project will install Advanced Metering Infrastructure (a mechanical meter with a radio transponder) for the remaining 20 percent of district customers that do not already have the hardware installed. The project also will purchase WaterSmart software that will incorporate water-use data from the new technology with customer data into a user-friendly interface that will allow customers to access their water-use data hourly, alert them to potential leaks and access district resources such as rebates and incentives. The WaterSmart software also provides comparisons with neighbors and personalized recommendations for boosting water savings. The project is expected to save 300 acre-feet per year.

In addition, the grant includes $439,079 to cover administrative costs.

Since 2007, the San Diego IRWM Program’s regional planning process has identified 44 water-related projects that were selected for state grants worth a total of$59 million from two voter-approved state water bonds. Those projects included expanding the distribution system for recycled water, acquiring lands for watershed habitat protection and reducing the amount of polluted runoff into local streams. The region also received a $1 million state grant to help pay for updating the IRWM Plan to comply with new state guidelines and requirements.

The 2013 IRWM plan sets water management objectives and measurable targets for the county’s 11 watersheds that flow to the Pacific Ocean. It also describes water management challenges and issues, evaluates water management strategies, identifies opportunities to implement the strategies, and establishes a system for prioritizing the strategies. It addresses the potential impact of climate change on water supplies, the relationship between water supply and land use policies, flood management, and partnership opportunities to improve water quality and regulatory certainty.

For more information about the IRWM Plan, go to www.sdirwmp.org.