GrokSurf's San Diego

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

Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

Purified recycled water…it’s perfectly clear

Posted by George J Janczyn on May 29, 2012

Here’s a nicely done educational/promotional video (just over 5 minutes) from the San Diego County Water Authority with the collaboration of the Escondido Water District, Helix Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and the City of San Diego.

These agencies are working hard to take advantage of purified recycled water to reduce our dependence on imported water, create the potential to improve the quality of the raw supplies now imported, reduce the amount of wastewater discarded into the ocean, and ultimately reduce the cost of water relative to imported water.

(if you’re a GrokSurf email subscriber, the video may not run in your mail program. In that case, just click on the title of the post to go to the web version)


Posted in Environment, Indirect potable reuse, Purified recycled water, Videos, Water | 6 Comments »

Mexico might receive Colorado River water via the All-American Canal

Posted by George J Janczyn on August 1, 2011

A proposal to build a turnout on the All-American Canal in order to convey some of Mexico’s Colorado River water to Mexicali, Tecate, Ensenada, and Tijuana during an emergency (like another catastrophic earthquake) disrupting the existing delivery system is being considered through the Colorado River Binational Discussions process — an ongoing series of discussions between Mexican and U.S. agencies working on Colorado River water supply and water management issues

[This account is based on a briefing on the Mexico-U.S. Binational Discussions given at the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) Imported Water Committee meeting last Thursday, July 28 [agenda packet]. Colorado River Program Director Halla Razak delivered the update.]


East of El Centro. The newly-lined All-American Canal is wide, deep, and swiftly flowing.

All-American Canal

The Colorado River is the main source of water for the state of Baja California. After the river enters Mexico, an aqueduct starting in Mexicali brings water west for Tijuana and other locales.

In the aftermath of the 2010 Baja California earthquake, the aqueduct and other canals were damaged, and for a time Tijuana was in a vulnerable position. Later, looking for ways to avoid dependence solely on the single aqueduct, Mexico expressed interest in using the All-American Canal to convey some Colorado River water to Mexico during emergencies so as to provide an extra margin of supply reliability.

The idea was presented at the Colorado River Binational Discussions and a workgroup was set up to work out a plan. Members of the workgroup are:

  • San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA)
  • Imperial Irrigation District (IID)
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD)
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)
  • Central Arizona Project (CAP)
  • Various Mexican government agencies

For the next year or so the workgroup will work on design, permitting, and funding. It will also work with the International Boundary and Water Commission (which oversees the 1944 treaty with Mexico regarding water deliveries between the two countries) to determine terms and conditions for implementing the project, and the Bureau of Reclamation which coordinates the Colorado River Basin States’ input to the negotiations.

Ms. Razak indicated that the workgroup is looking at a connection with 200 CFS capacity beginning at the western end of the All-American Canal, near the turnout for the Westside Main Canal.

If all goes well, it is hoped that construction could be completed in early 2014.

Although the City of San Diego isn’t a member of the workgroup, it will have some say in the project because it owns a portion of the capacity rights in the All-American Canal. That’s another story in itself — here’s a fact sheet explaining it. San Diego shoulders some expense in maintaining those capacity rights and will be looking for an agreeable financial outcome should this project be implemented.


The April 2010 Baja California earthquake, as many of us are aware, devastated Mexico’s water infrastructure in the region. An Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) newsletter said an estimated 300 km of canals were knocked out of service [link]. Details on the effects of the earthquake are documented in this EERI Reconnaissance Report.

What was the fate of the water heading toward the unusable canals? Would it just be diverted out to sea?

That brings us back to the Colorado River Binational Process. In normal times they work on long-term strategic issues but during the last year their main focus has been dealing with the impacts of the earthquake. The All-American Canal project was an idea that came recently, relatively speaking. An earlier development was a U.S. suggestion that Mexico be permitted to temporarily store up to 200,000 acre feet in Lake Mead, as summarized in this Colorado River Board report:

“…with the large magnitude earthquake that occurred in the Mexicali Valley in early April, water deliveries from a large number of the canals in the Mexicali Valley have been disrupted. To assist Mexico in coping with this situation, the United States has suggested that, in the interest of international comity and as a one-time program, Mexico would be allowed to store up to 200,000 acre-feet of water in the reservoir system in the United States this year and then be allowed to request the delivery of the stored water during calendar year 2011. […] Mexico has considered this offer made by the United States and is proposing that this offer by the United States be incorporated into a more comprehensive deal that includes the concepts that are currently being discussed by the two countries to pursue Bi-National projects that could benefit both countries.”

As things turned out, however, the temporary storage wasn’t much needed. According to Mark Watton, Chair of the Imported Water Committee, Mexico has been slow to take advantage of that offer because the farmers, not wanting to wait for canal repairs, began digging their own diversion ditches and were able to irrigate their crops.

Mr. Watton observed that wasn’t the first time Mexican farmers were able to wrangle some extra water. He said a number of years ago (mid 90s?) the Colorado River had surplus water and about 3 million acre feet (MAF) went to Mexico that year (the U.S. treaty obligation to Mexico is 1.5 MAF). Despite doubling the usual volume of water entering Mexico, Watton recalled, not a single drop made it to the Gulf. Why? The upstream farmers captured and used all the extra water.

A short video documenting damaged and then repaired canals and other water conveyance work was also played for the committee. San Diego County Water Authority kindly gave me a copy with permission to post it here (I added the credits at the beginning).


Posted in Colorado River, Environment, Videos, Water | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

How wastewater goes from polluted to pure

Posted by George J Janczyn on May 1, 2011

The American Chemical Society produced this video showing the steps that are followed in order to convert wastewater into purified drinking water (potable reuse). With the start of operations for San Diego’s Water Purification Demonstration Project fast approaching and educational outreach programs for community planning groups already underway, the video could be useful if used to supplement the city’s public outreach effort — which at times seems rough around the edges. Although it doesn’t cover reservoir augmentation with purified recycled water as San Diego’s project aims to do, the video delivers a fair amount of pertinent information and details with a matter-of-fact style.




Posted in Potable reuse, Videos, Water, Water Purification Demonstration Project | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

San Diego regional water news roundup July 19-20, 2010

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 21, 2010

(click headlines to see sourced stories)

Water hikes pit agriculture versus large lawns / North County Times“Faced with the need to increase water rates in order to cover increasing costs, Escondido city officials must decide whether to continue subsidizing agricultural customers at the expense of people living on large lots that require plentiful irrigation. That choice will be presented to the City Council on Sept. 1 after the council’s utilities subcommittee deadlocked on the issue last week.”

In a time of conservation, a handful of water officials increase use / Voice of San Diego[however…] “Some 69 other officials who oversee the region’s 24 water retailers — the agencies or cities that sell water to individual homes and businesses — either kept their use steady or cut it.”

U-T editorial: Watching the spigot / SignOnSanDiego“The latest report card for water conservation in the region is in and it’s a great one. The June report for consumers carries a gold star and the notation, “Keep it up, don’t let down.””

Energy and water: why are we so wasteful? / Voice of San Diego “Why isn’t SoCal using alternative energy to power desalination plants? Why can’t we build more wind and solar generators?”

Report: County must diversify water sources / 10News“According to a new report by the research group Equinox, researchers said if the county does not diversify with options such as recycled water, local residents could eventually be forced to use half as much water in two decades.”

Tar balls wash up in Oceanside, Encinitas / SignOnSanDiego“Tar balls have washed ashore at two beaches in North County, creating squishy messes across a few hundred yards of sand near Witherby Street in Oceanside and at a popular spot in Encinitas.”

Water bond now on the bubble / SignOnSanDiego“The outcome has fiscal consequences for water suppliers across California , including the San Diego County Water Authority, which is in line for state bond money to help defray its aggressive program to increase local supplies. The overall $11 billion bond includes $100 million to help defray a $568 million project to more than double the size of San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside…Local water officials also were looking at a variety of grants in the bond for other supply reliability programs.”

These Days: the economics of San Diego’s water supply / KPBS“Maureen Cavanaugh (Host): A new study concludes that conservation is the cheapest and most accepted form of water management in the county. Guests: Dr. Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist, Point Loma Nazarene University Business and Economics Institute; Marion Paul, Executive Director, Equinox Center”

Sewage again spills into Tijuana River Valley / SignOnSanDiego “A second major sewage overflow in Tijuana since the start of June has sullied the Tijuana River Valley in southern San Diego County. More than 2.7 million gallons of sewage-tainted water coursed through the dry river bed on July 7 and 8, according to state and federal reports.”

Fireworks testing turns up limited pollution / SignOnSanDiego“Environmentalists who tried to block July Fourth fireworks displays Tuesday released results from water tests that showed elevated levels of a few metals in San Diego Bay — but not ecological harm — following the holiday events.”


Posted in Videos, Water | Leave a Comment »

The River Under The City Of Angels

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 14, 2010

The L.A. Creek Freak blog, a regular stop for me, is where I had the pleasure of finding this very nice documentary about L.A.’s large river. It’s an enjoyable watch for its own purpose, but from another perspective I think the video also creates a stimulating atmosphere for reflecting on what’s happening (and what could happen) with our San Diego regional watersheds.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Posted in Environment, Videos, Water | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Friday spot check: Windansea

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 9, 2010

The fireworks were held in La Jolla after all, and on Monday July 5 some southern hemi energy was producing decent swells for Windansea, although there were long breaks between sets so when a group of 3 or 5 waves finally did show up things got a little competitive. The weather was overcast and humid with just a hint of breeze that didn’t disturb the nice glassy conditions. Besides the surfers there were no people on the beach so the lifeguards didn’t have much to do besides rearrange equipment and adjust their sitting positions. Between 8am-10am anyway! There’s a short video below.



Posted in Friday spot check, Surfing, Videos | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

A primer/refresher on San Diego’s Water Purification Demonstration Project

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 7, 2010


San Diego’s Indirect Potable Reuse Reservoir Augmentation Demonstration Project, with roots going back to 2004, intends to supplement the city’s water resources with purified reclaimed water. For discussion purposes, the name is often shortened to IPR Project and for publicity purposes the Water Department plans to use the term Water Purification Demonstration Project. The City’s public outreach and education program is still in development, so this article should give you a good basic understanding of the Project.


San Diego has two large water reclamation plants that treat wastewater to tertiary standards. Tertiary water is clean enough to be used for irrigation and industrial applications in San Diego (and has been for many years), but is not considered quite good enough to drink. Here are a few photos from the San Diego North City Water Reclamation Plant (all photos in this article are mine):

Primary clarifier, where heavy particles sink to the bottom of the tank and are removed.

Secondary clarifier, where organic solids sink to the bottom of the tank and are separated from the treated wastewater.

EDR (Electro Dialysis Reversal) area of the plant, where portions of the reclaimed water receive additional treatment for removal of dissolved solids.

Chlorine contact basin where recycled water is treated with chlorine to kill any remaining bacteria.

This is where the IPR Project begins. It will take the tertiary treated water from the North City Water Reclamation Plant and subject it to a series of advanced treatment processes that will result in water that is said to be nearly distilled water quality. Once it actually begins operations, the Project will spend a year producing and analyzing the highly treated water to determine if it would be feasible for use as a supplement to our water supply. This graphic illustrates the additional treatment given to the tertiary water:

If the study proves to everyone’s satisfaction that the water is reliably pure, and if the San Diego City Council and Mayor along with the residents of the city agree, the Project envisions that 16 million gallons of water per day (for starters) could supplement our city’s drinking water supply.

Here’s a short interview with an Australian water researcher with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Like San Diego, Australia has a long-term water supply problem and is also looking for IPR to help address its water needs.

Note that the discussion in the video indicates that with reverse osmosis the water is approaching distilled quality. In San Diego’s plan, the water will additionally receive ultraviolet treatment, peroxide treatment, and additional pipeline chlorination prior to mixing with the raw water supply. Then it will be aged in the reservoir for a period of time and eventually given final conditioning at a water treatment plant prior to distribution.

Consider: Our raw imported water contains treated wastewater from upstream users (including greater Las Vegas, which sends ALL of its highly treated wastewater [an average of 193 million gallons per day] into Lake Mead on the Colorado River) and is treated in San Diego only once at a water treatment plant like the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant shown here:

Alvarado Water Treatment Plant next to the dam at Lake Murray

Under the IPR Project, tertiary reclaimed water (which approaches the quality of our raw untreated imported water) would be subjected to the advanced treatment described above. In other words, the IPR Project water would not be very different from what we’re importing now, and may possibly be an improvement.

A previous San Diego IPR water quality study found that “AWT [Advanced Water Treatment] reduced all compounds regulated by state and federal drinking water standards…to below their notification levels” and “Compared to samples from San Diego reservoirs which store untreated imported water, AWT product water was lower or equivalent in concentration levels for nearly all contaminants/parameters measured.”

Indeed, one might wonder why the advanced IPR water treatment isn’t done for all imported water supplies!

In the end, if the process is finally approved for production, the purified reclaimed water blended with imported raw supplies will be stored and aged at the San Vicente Reservoir, where the dam is now being raised in order to more than double its current capacity. The added capacity is primarily to serve as an emergency regional backup in case of disruptions in the imported supply and the supplemental IPR process could help keep it full while reducing our import requirements.

A few months ago, San Vicente Dam's surface was prepared for new concrete that will soon arrive in massive quantities needed to raise the top by another 117 feet

Although the demonstration project was approved by the City Council in 2007, implementation has been very slow, partly because of interference by some councilmembers who are still opposed to the idea. Mayor Sanders originally vetoed the project but was overridden. Just two weeks ago Councilmembers DeMaio and Lightner caused a further delay by temporarily blocking a council vote on a contract to start construction on the necessary treatment facility for the project. Still, politics notwithstanding, the project will go on.

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” — W.H. Auden


Posted in Technology, Videos, Water, Water Purification Demonstration Project | Tagged: | 11 Comments »

Information overload, filter failure, and the semantic web

Posted by George J Janczyn on May 8, 2010

I recently alluded to the problems we face in trying to retrieve useful information in an online environment in my post “Do we still need library catalogs?” Here’s an interesting (and very well-done) short video that further captures the flavor of difficulties in making improvements:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "film – web 3.0 «", posted with vodpod


Posted in Libraries, Technology, Videos | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do we still need library catalogs?

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 29, 2010

I should say immediately that there’s nothing here about the controversy over a new public library for San Diego, but if you’re bugged by problems with online information retrieval, this may interest you.

I’d like to draw attention to a blog that has some very interesting discussions about library catalogs (it can sometimes be quite technical for casual readers). It’s called First thus: thoughts about the future of libraries and the catalog and is hosted by James Weinheimer, Director of Library and Information Services at the American University of Rome.

A recent series of posts looks at differences between doing research with online tools like Google (which entails typing keywords into a box to retrieve large quantities of results arranged to suit Google’s business needs), compared to using card catalogs (which allow navigation of information that has been conceptually organized). This excerpt from one post illustrates:

Research has shown that some 80% or more people rate their searching abilities as “very good” or “expert”. And they may be, for a mundane task such as finding the height of Mt. Everest, getting somebody’s email address, or finding and buying a new Ipod on (More or less what librarians term “ready reference”) But once they are confronted with the task of finding information for a class paper–even on extremely simple topics such as the one I gave you–they discover they are helpless and don’t know anything at all. They don’t know where to begin; they don’t know how to end; they don’t know anything except to type different words into a box and it’s not working. This is when they come to the reference librarian for help, and in my experience, they are more or less in a state of shock and totally panicked.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Libraries, Technology, Videos | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tapped–The Movie

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 13, 2010

Water in plastic, or plastic in water, it’s all in Tapped, a movie that critically examines the production, transportation, and disposal issues with bottled water, with a close look at the health hazards of the plastic bottles as well as the amount of energy and water consumed by the industry.

While not directly related, plastic water bottles is a timely topic to cross paths with the latest news about the lawsuit against the Fiji Water billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick (not regarding bottled water, but for allegedly selling water from their holdings in a manner that violated state utilities laws) and a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags being discussed in the state legislature.

Of course, if we’re going to consider the issue seriously, we shouldn’t forget the Gatorades and other beverages consumed from plastic bottles.


Posted in Commerce, Environment, Videos, Water | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »