GrokSurf's San Diego

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

San Diego regional water news roundup Jan 24-31, 2011

Posted by George J Janczyn on February 1, 2011

(Click headlines to see sourced stories)

Small sewage spill occurs in La Jolla / SignOnSanDiego : “A small sewage spill occurred just before noon when the La Jolla Reservoir overflowed into San Diego’s sewer system.”

San Diego water rates going up 6.4 percent / SignOnSanDiego : “Even larger rate increases have been adopted elsewhere around the region in recent months, as cities and water districts struggle to swallow a series of hefty rate increases from wholesale suppliers.”

Preventing future sewage spills could take binational effort / KPBS : “What can the U.S. and Mexico do to prevent future ocean contamination from sewage spills along the border? What can San Diego do to reduce contamination in our local waterways? We talk about what caused the recent sewage spill that forced beach closures in Imperial Beach.”

The yuck factor: get over it [editorial] / SignOnSanDiego : “At San Diego’s North City Water Reclamation Plant, work recently began on an $11.8 million pilot project…to demonstrate whether purified wastewater can be made safe to drink and affordable to produce in large quantities…this editorial board has come to accept the latest science – and real-life experience – that says this water would likely be the purest and safest water in the system.”

Experts tell how to keep enough water flowing in San Diego County / San Diego 6 : “Conservation, recycling and tapping new technologies will be key to maintaining San Diego County’s water supplies, a panel of water experts told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday.”

ESCONDIDO: City approves series of water rate hikes / North County Times : “The Escondido City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday night to increase water rates by 7 percent on March 1, instead of a 9 percent increase recommended by a consultant. But in order to levy a smaller increase this year, the council endorsed a plan to increase water rates by 12 percent in 2012, 8 percent in 2013, 7 percent in 2014 and 7 percent in 2015.”

Drought alert for San Dieguito Water District remains at level 2 / Encinitas Patch : “After a special goal-setting session on Tuesday, the council met for their regular meeting Wednesday and voted to keep the drought level—and water rates—at its current status. Encinitas is served by two water agencies: San Dieguito for the coastal area, and the Olivenhain Water District for the eastern portion of the city.”

REGION: Horn wants groundwater debate / North County Times : “The North County supervisor, who is a strong backer of development, assembled a panel of water experts Tuesday to discuss the availability of the critical resource in the region.”

Water Authority defers 11 projects to help manage rates / San Diego County Water Authority : “The deferred projects include new pump stations, pipeline expansions, flow control facilities, and mitigation projects linked to future construction. This action will lower the impact of wholesale water rate increases from capital projects by approximately $9 to $12 an acre-foot during the deferral period.”

VALLEY CENTER: Water supply to get less reliable / North County Times : “Residents and businesses in Valley Center and perhaps other agriculture-heavy areas face a “long-term train wreck” from a deteriorating water supply system, a top regional water official warned Wednesday.”

Broken Mexican sewage pipe repaired, work begins for more cross border collaboration / Imperial Beach Patch : “Mexican officials notified the U.S. portion of the International Boundary and Water Commission Thursday that final repairs to a broken collector pipe just south of the border were completed Wednesday night around 10 p.m.”

Lower sales hit Water Authority budget / North County Times : “Water sales are falling well short of expectations, adding a new element of uncertainty to its budget, directors of the San Diego County Water Authority were told at their Thursday board meeting.”

Water officials seek savings, delay projects / SignOnSanDiego : “The San Diego County Water Authority has deferred 11 projects and will assess three more for possible delays in hopes of postponing payments of up to $150 million.”

That’s right: get over the yuck factor / San Diego Coastkeeper : “Saturday’s Union-Tribune ran an editorial rescinding its previous opposition to indirect potable reuse, a water supply option which would recycle treated wastewater into water so pure we could drink it. We’ve been advocating for this water supply option for many years and would like to congratulate the paper for stepping back from the brink to re-think San Diego’s water crisis.”

Fluoridation to start Tuesday in San Diego / SignOnSanDiego : “After a false start in December, San Diego officials said Monday they are ready to start fluoridating the water supply. Fluoridation is supposed to begin Tuesday and it will mean that San Diego is no longer the largest city in the nation without the controversial compound in the water.”


4 Responses to “San Diego regional water news roundup Jan 24-31, 2011”

  1. Burton Freeman said

    Thanks again, George, for keeping us up-to-date on local water matters!

    Well, in spite of uncritical endorsement by the Coastkeeper and, perhaps, the U-T, someone needs to express (again) a bit of reservation about San Diego’s current IPR program. And everyone with some technical background would understand that, with enough effort, wastewater can be cleaned to potable standards; so much for the “Yuck” factor.

    There are three additional factors that are less favorable: cost, availability, and competition with purple pipes. Cost, indeed, is uncertain for a project proposed for several years in the future; what is certain is that IPR will be expensive compared with current water; note San Diego’s 2005 study of water reuse and NC-3 in particular. Availability of IPR water, according to NC-3, requires feedwater from the North County Water Reclamation Plant (NCWRP); its capacity is only a small fraction of that of the entire city. And NCWRP’s output is currently partially committed to recycling (purple pipes) so that only a fraction of capacity would be available for IPR. Well, there are more than three issues, such as what happens when IPR passes through San Vicente Reservoir.

    Yes, let’s talk about IPR, but let’s do it in the context of how best to deal with San Diego’s need for safe, reliable water into the future, and at an affordable price.

  2. It’s not so certain that IPR will be expensive compared to imported water (I assume that’s what you meant by “current water”). Check this Powerpoint slide from a San Diego County Taxpayers Association presentation (based on County Water Authority figures):

  3. Burton Freeman said

    Perhaps I should have said “More expensive” (that is, $1620 for NC-3 in 2005 dollars). Let’s assume that the imported water figures are correct (and recognize that they are a projection into the unknown future). And let’s note that the calculation of the cost of IPR water is complicated and affected by the allocation of various costs, such as the cost of the NCWRP feedwater. As far as I know, all estimates of IPR water substantially exceed current SDCWA charges for treated water this year. While we look forward to cost estimates from the current IPR contract, are there other cost estimates specificaly for NC-3 that I’ve missed?

    • I think you’ve studied costs much more thoroughly than I have. My instinct is simply to assume that water for San Diego will continue to grow much more expensive regardless of source but that reducing imports is desirable even if it means spending more on local production (although SDCTA’s position seems to be that eventually imported water will be more expensive than IPR and desal).

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