GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

Proposed changes to City of San Diego water rates

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 21, 2015

The Public Utilities Department delivered on Monday, July 20 a presentation to the Independent Rates Oversight Committee (IROC) showing proposed water rate changes for the City of San Diego. Here are selected slides from that presentation. For further details, see also this San Diego Union-Tribune article For slightly larger pictures click slide images.


Posted in Recycled water, Water, Water rates | Leave a Comment »

Countywide water use decreases 29 percent in December

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 15, 2015

January 15, 2015 – Water use in the San Diego region plummeted by 29 percent in December 2014 compared to the same month a year earlier, evidence that many residents, businesses and farmers turned off their irrigation systems for long periods following a series of rainstorms. The savings totaled 10,636 acre-feet, enough to serve more than 21,000 typical four-person households for a year.

“People across the county capitalized on the wet weather and achieved an extraordinary reduction in water use last month,” said Mark Weston, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “That effort highlights our region’s long-term commitment to water conservation, which has driven down per capita water demand by more than 20 percent since 2007. While we won’t always have the benefit of rainstorms, we must continue to aggressively pursue every chance to conserve water indoors and outdoors.”

The dramatic decrease in water use was achieved even though December was the fourteenth consecutive month of above-normal temperatures in San Diego. Last year was the hottest year on record in San Diego County and California (dating back to 1895), and 2012-2014 was the driest three-year period on record for the state.

December’s decrease in potable water use is based on figures reported to the Water Authority by its 24 member agencies. Water agencies across the county have adopted mandatory water-use restrictions and they are preparing for the potential of a fourth consecutive dry year.

It would take a series of major storms over the next few months to pull the state out of drought. Precipitation is about 130 percent of average at Lindbergh Field in San Diego since the start of the “water year” on Oct. 1, though it’s important to note that the region only gets a small percentage of its annual water supply from local rainfall. Precipitation in the northern Sierra Nevada is just above average since Oct. 1, while the northern Sierra snowpack, a pivotal component of the state’s water supply, is at only 42 percent of average water content for this time of year. Officials with the California Department of Water Resources said in December that it would take 150 percent of normal precipitation in the northern Sierra for California to recover from the drought.

The initial 2015 allocation from the State Water Project – an important water source for San Diego County – has been set at 10 percent of requested supplies. The figure may fluctuate up or down depending on precipitation over the next few months.

The San Diego region’s largest water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, withdrew approximately 1.1 million acre-feet of water from storage in 2014 to meet demand in its service area, reducing its reserves by about half. MWD may impose water supply allocations in 2015 if conditions don’t improve this winter. However, two decades of San Diego regional investments in water supply reliability, such as independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project, will help reduce the impacts of any reductions in imported water supplies from MWD.

“While rainstorms over the past several weeks are welcome, don’t be fooled into thinking that the drought is over,” said Dana Friehauf, an acting water resources manager for the Water Authority. “Reservoir storage levels remain low, and it’s far too early to be certain about our water supplies for 2015. That means we all need to redouble our efforts to improve stored water reserves in coming months.”

Jason Foster, director of public outreach and conservation for the Water Authority, said the agency is working closely with its member agencies on a public information campaign that will ask the region’s residents and businesses “How Low Can You Go?” and encourage them to reduce water use as much as possible this winter. Online and radio ads will roll out in coming days.

“There are lots of ways to lower water use,” Foster said. “Go low by taking shorter showers, lower by promptly fixing indoor and outdoor leaks, and lowest by turning off irrigation systems as long as possible before and after rainstorms.”

As a wholesale water agency, the Water Authority coordinates drought response actions for San Diego County. The regional Model Drought Response Ordinance, adopted by the Water Authority’s Board in 2008, established four levels of drought response with progressive restrictions. The strategy was designed to foster regional consistency and to align demand with supply during water shortages, while minimizing harm to the region’s economy.

In July 2014, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors declared a Drought Alert condition calling for mandatory water conservation measures. Restrictions vary by member agency. For information about water-use rules by community, along with details about drought conditions and conservation-related resources, go to

[Text from San Diego County Water Authority news release]

Posted in Drought, Water | Leave a Comment »

Water discharges into San Diego storm water system: public hearings scheduled for this week

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 10, 2015

The City of San Diego is preparing 2015 amendments to its Storm Water Management and Discharge Control Ordinance. The ordinance regulates all water flowing into the storm water system, including that from non-storm water sources.

Examples of residential water discharges that are regulated:

  • Discharge of vehicle, boat, and equipment wash water to the storm drain system shall be contained, captured, and reused, or disposed of to the sanitary sewer, an appropriate waste hauler, or to landscaping or other pervious surfaces. No drains within wash areas shall be connected to the storm drain system.
  • Irrigation runoff to the storm drain system shall be eliminated through proper landscape maintenance and watering practices.
  • Water from swimming pools, spas, fountains, reflective pools, ponds, and filter backwash water shall be properly disposed of to prevent pollutants from entering the storm drain system.

Two public information sessions are scheduled for this week:

January 12, 2015
6:00PM – 7:30PM
San Diego Concourse
North Terrace Rooms #206-9
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

January 13, 2015
1:00PM – 2:30PM
San Diego Concourse
North Terrace Rooms #206-9
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

For full information about San Diego’s storm water regulations and the 2015 amendments, see


Posted in Environment, Storm water management, Water | Leave a Comment »

100-acre restoration project at Upper Otay Reservoir to improve water quality and native habitat

Posted by George J Janczyn on January 8, 2015

Upper Otay Reservoir. Picture taken from trail near northwestern side of the lake.

Upper Otay Reservoir. Picture taken from trail near northwestern side of the lake.

SAN DIEGO – The City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is working with local nonprofit River Partners to restore approximately 100 acres around the City’s Upper Otay Reservoir.

The three-year project will restore five small urban streams and the main drainage to the reservoir, totaling nearly 6,900 linear feet of streambed. A significant benefit will be that the restored drainages will ease urban runoff and remove pollutants and trash; thus, helping to protect water quality. The $ 1.2million project is funded by state and local grants.

“The Public Utilities Department is committed to improving water quality and the environment,” said Halla Razak, Director of Public Utilities. “This project is a great example of our continuing work in protecting and enhancing watersheds that connect to our reservoirs.”

River Partners will remove invasive and non-native plants such as eucalyptus, tamarisk, Giant Reed and non-native grasses. To establish healthy riparian and upland plant areas along and adjacent to the streams, the organization will plant native tree and plant species, including California sycamore, Fremont cottonwood, black willow, arroyo willow, and mulefat.

The replacement of non-native flora with native ones will enhance the habitat for many bird species of special concern, such as the cactus wren, tricolored blackbird, yellow breasted chat, yellow warbler California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo, and southwestern willow fly catcher. Because eucalyptus trees are often used by hawks for nesting and perches, some large trees will be left for this purpose.

The smallest of the City of San Diego’s impounding reservoirs, Upper Otay Reservoir was established in 1959 as a fish hatchery. The reservoir has been open to the public for fishing since 1996.

The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department provides safe, healthful drinking water to the 1.3 million residents of San Diego, and regional wastewater treatment and disposal services for more than 2 million residents of San Diego County. More information:

River Partners creates wildlife habitat and protects the environment by implementing large scale restoration projects along streams and rivers. More information:

[Text from the Public Utilities Department news release. Photo is mine.]

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San Diego begins three-year valve maintenance program to improve water distribution system

Posted by George J Janczyn on December 19, 2014

Posted in Announcements, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

City of San Diego to pay $949,634 in storm water settlement

Posted by George J Janczyn on August 15, 2014

Posted in Water | Leave a Comment »

Murray Reservoir Security Upgrades – Notice of Right to Appeal (NORA)

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 11, 2014

The above referenced project was determined to be exempt pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and attached is the Notice of Right to Appeal (NORA), which was posted on the City’s website on June 10, 2014. The NORA has been distributed to the appropriate council district, the recognized community planning group, and to any interested parties (if applicable).

Thank you,

City of San Diego / Development Services Department / Environmental Analysis Section
1222 First Avenue, MS 501 / San Diego, CA / 92101 / Phone: 619.446.5369 / Fax: 619.446.5499

(Note: if display below is too difficult to read, you can load it into your browser by clicking here:

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On hiatus

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 21, 2014

The weekly San Diego water news roundup is on hiatus until further notice.

Thank you for the private messages of support that many of you have sent me; they are very much appreciated.


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San Diego regional water news roundup: Apr 7-13, 2014

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 14, 2014

The southern end of El Capitan Reservoir as seen from the old flume grade on the east bank. The 112,806 acre-feet capacity reservoir has a limited ability to receive imported water, has a large watershed, and is primarily used to capture local water.  This mode of operation optimizes local water capture and minimizes spill potential, according to Arian Collins, Public Information Officer for the Public Utilities Dept. The reservoir is now 36% full.

The southern end of El Capitan Reservoir as seen from the old flume grade on the east bank. The 112,806 acre-feet capacity reservoir has a limited ability to receive imported water, has a large watershed, and is primarily used to capture local water. This mode of operation optimizes local water capture and minimizes spill potential, according to Arian Collins, Public Information Officer for the Public Utilities Dept. The reservoir is now 36% full.


Water flows to Colorado River Delta / U-T San Diego : “Fresh infusions of water reached a key Colorado River restoration site in Baja California this week as part of a bi-national effort aimed at reviving the river’s few remaining natural areas in Mexico…”

USD students develop clean water to go / U-T San Diego : “In the aftermath of disaster, clean water is first on the list of necessities. So a group of University of San Diego engineering students are building a portable water purification system that can run on solar or human power…”

Lowest water rate increases in decade approved, as Metropolitan board adopts two-year budget / Metropolitan Water District of Southern California : “Looking to strategically invest revenues to enhance long-term financial stability and water reliability, Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors today approved a two-year spending plan that calls for its smallest water rate increases in more than a decade—increases of 1.5 percent over the next two years…”

MWD adopts unnecessary rate increases for 2015 and 2016 while over-collecting $350 million from ratepayers / San Diego County Water Authority : “Officials from the San Diego County Water Authority and several of its 24 member agencies attended Tuesday’s hearing in Los Angeles to defend the region’s ratepayers and urge no water rate increases be adopted. However, despite compelling information that rate increases are unneeded, the MWD board adopted 1.5 percent increases for each of the next two years…”

“Moon Jellies” invade Mission Bay / NBC 7 San Diego : “A jellyfish invasion is taking place in Mission Bay right now as part of a spring ritual in our local waters…”

Water transfer cash flow projected to increase in 2018 / Imperial Valley Press : “The transfer of water from the Imperial Irrigation District to San Diego and the Coachella Valley has netted the IID nearly $85 million over a 10-year period, and is expected to net the district more than $2.7 billion from 2009 through 2047, according to IID projections…”

Flushing out ‘the yuk factor’ of wasted water / U-T San Diego : “The phrase “toilet to tap” is commonly used by critics of a proven process in which sewage water is treated to such high levels that we can drink it. It’s a powerful, if completely deceptive, slogan…”

Tapped-out farmers applaud Escondido’s decision to recycle wastewater / KPBS : “The city of Escondido has approved a plan to spend $285 million to recycle its wastewater…”


Posted in Regional water news roundups, Water | Leave a Comment »

San Diego regional water news roundup: Mar 31-Apr 6, 2014

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 7, 2014

Gliding over Black's Beach. The Torrey Pines Gliderport is perched at the top of the cliffs at center of photo.

Gliding over Black’s Beach. The Torrey Pines Gliderport is perched at the top of the cliffs at center of photo.


Storms don’t melt drought fears / U-T San Diego : “The snowpack came in at less than a third of normal Tuesday, prompting state and federal water managers to reiterate that they have no immediate plans to turn the tap back on for some of their largest customers, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that delivers the vast majority of the San Diego region’s supplies…”

Small avocado groves in peril / U-T San Diego : “Just 10 years ago, there were nearly 30,000 acres of avocado trees growing in such places as Fallbrook, Valley Center, Bonsall and the San Pasqual and Pauma valleys. Today that number has dwindled to between 18,000 and 22,000 acres…”

Video2Drought forces Ensenada to ration water … and it’s only spring / KPBS : “Due to a severe water crisis, many of Ensenada’s 320,000 inhabitants now only get water from their taps two or three times a week. The governor has declared a state of emergency because of the shortage…”

Ensenada confronts water shortage / U-T San Diego : “Here in the sprawling hillside development of Villas del Prado and across Ensenada, residents have been learning to live with rationed water, as the port city of 400,000 residents confronts an unprecedented shortage…”

USD reacts as drought continues / The Vista : “Despite a few scattered showers over the past few months, the drought in California is lingering at record levels. In reaction, the USD [University of San Diego] Office of Sustainability is still trying to reduce water usage on the USD campus…”

Balancing resources / U-T San Diego : “California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird met with the U-T Editorial Board last week to discuss the drought and other water-related topics. Here is an edited transcript of the interview…”

Bill would protect California homeowners association members who reduce water use for landscaping / Associated Press via Los Angeles Daily News : “A bill moving through the Legislature protects people in homeowner associations from retribution if they take steps to reduce water use for landscaping….”

Rebates make lawn removal attractive / U-T San Diego : “The San Diego County Water Authority offers homeowners up to $3,000 for replacing conventional turf grass with plants more suited to low-impact irrigation and the region’s semiarid climate. Businesses can get up to $9,000…”

Fact check: spiking San Diego’s water supply with recycled water / Voice of San Diego : “Statement: “the city of San Diego’s water reuse project that could supply up to 40 percent of San Diego’s water needs…” Determination: Mostly True…”

Water police take aim at small companies / U-T San Diego : “California’s regulatory tsunami is poised to soak 14,000 mostly small companies in San Diego County that fall under a broad definition of light industry…”

Escondido develops ‘critical’ recycled water project / The Coast News : “The city of Escondido has approved initial plans for new recycled water and potable water reuse systems with the intention of securing a local, drought-proof water source for future generations…”

Water recycling may cost city $285M / U-T San Diego : “The Escondido City Council endorsed a plan Wednesday to spend an estimated $285 million over the next 15 years on infrastructure that would allow the city to transform all its sewage into irrigation water…”

Coronado City Council addresses wastewater rates; priorities for fiscal year 2014-15 / Coronado Eagle & Journal : “According to the city staff report, two of the main wastewater lines, the Cays and the Glorietta are nearing the end of their expected service. Replacing both lines could cost the city’s Wastewater Enterprise Fund an additional $10 million to $20 million…”

Encina Wastewater Authority announces the PureGreen Garden to showcase crops grown with organic nitrogen fertilizer / PRWeb : “Today, the Encina Wastewater Authority (EWA) announced the launch of the test phase of its flagship PureGreen Demonstration Garden. PureGreen fertilizer is manufactured using biosolids – the nutrient rich residual by-product of the wastewater treatment process…”

Arant gives presentation before CWA board / Valley Roadrunner : “Valley Center Municipal Water District general manager Gary Arant gave a presentation about his agency to the San Diego County Water Authority board at the SDCWA’s March 27 meeting. The VCMWD service area of 100 square miles makes it the CWA’s third largest agency, behind the City of San Diego and the Otay Water District, in terms of land…”

The Water Authority misses the mark…again / San Diego Coastkeeper : “…on the adoption of [the San Diego County Water Authority] Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan Update…What seems to have been ignored all together by this plan is the amount of energy it takes to supply water…”

Water district wins transparency award / U-T San Diego : “The Vallecitos Water District’s efforts to operate openly and transparently were honored last month by the Special District Leadership Foundation. The district provides water to 94,000 residents across 45 square miles in San Marcos and portions of Escondido, Carlsbad, Vista and unincorporated areas of the county…”

Lake Hodges reopens to wind surfers / FOX5 San Diego : “Beginning Wednesday, windsurfing is allowed for the general public on Lake Hodges for the first time in a decade…”

California ports watch for unusual water patterns after Chilean quake / Los Angeles Times : “Small tsunami waves and other unusual “water movements” arrived on the California coast Wednesday following an 8.2 earthquake that struck Chile’s northern coast. The first waves to strike California that were connected to Tuesday night’s South American earthquake may have hit La Jolla about 4 a.m….

Accusations plentiful at Rainbow MWD’s first board meeting since FPUD application to LAFCO / Fallbrook Village News : “March 25 was the date of the first Rainbow Municipal Water District board meeting since the Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD) submitted an application to San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission to merge FPUD and Rainbow…giving the district 25 days to provide an official response…”

Sewage spill contaminates water at Del Mar Beach / San Diego County News Center : “Beachgoers should stay out of the water in the area near Powerhouse Park in Del Mar after a sewage spill Friday, the County Department of Environmental Health said…”

San Diego beachgoers advised to stay out of water until Saturday due to urban runoff / City News Service via KPBS : “The county’s Department of Environmental Health issued a general advisory to beachgoers to stay out of the water for the next 72 hours due to Wednesday morning’s rainfall…”


Posted in Regional water news roundups, Water | Leave a Comment »


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