More than $31M awarded to water projects in San Diego region

Jan. 14, 2016
13 projects will boost conservation, habitat, water recycling and more.

San Diego, Ca., Jan. 14, 2016 -- The San Diego region has been awarded $31.1 million in grant money by the state Department of Water Resources for a variety of projects that will increase local water supplies, decrease water demands, improve water quality, manage stormwater, restore habitat and enhance species.

The awards announced Wednesday are part of the final round of Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) grants from voter-approved Proposition 84 (2006). Since 2008, the San Diego region has been awarded more than $89 million in IRWM grants through Propositions 84 and 50. The newly announced $31.1 million from the state will be paired with other funding sources to advance more than $190 million in projects countywide.

“These grants will help our region meet goals for water conservation and expanding drought-proof water supplies,” said Mark Stadler, the San Diego IRWM program manager. “Several of the projects will restore habitat along our streams, rivers and lakes.

“By working together, all of the agencies and non-profit groups involved are making big investments and big improvements in the region we call home. This coordinated approach is the hallmark of integrated watershed management.”

The San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Plan addresses management of water resources, water quality, and habitat in the heavily populated area of San Diego County where tributaries drain to the Pacific Ocean. The plan was prepared under the direction of a management group comprising the San Diego County Water Authority, the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego, with input from an array of water management agencies and non-profit groups. The Water Authority is the regional lead agency for IRWM grant applications and administration.

The 13 funded projects and their local sponsors are:

  • Padre Dam Advanced Water Treatment, Phase I Expansion ($6 million in grant funding – Padre Dam Municipal Water District) – This project is a key component of the East County Regional Water Reuse Program, a partnership between Padre Dam, Helix Water District, the County of San Diego and the City of El Cajon. It will expand the Ray Stoyer Water Reclamation Facility by 4 million gallons per day. Water from the project will be used for irrigation and potentially for potable reuse in the future.
  • Regional Drought Resiliency Program ($3.8 million in grant funding – Water Authority) – This project includes retrofitting a correctional facility in the region with water-efficient fixtures, expanding the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program, expanding the Sustainable Landscapes Program initiated under a previous Proposition 84 IRWM grant, and additional drought education, outreach and conservation activities. The combined efforts are expected to conserve an estimated 1,800 acre-feet of water per year.
  • Rural Disadvantaged Community Partnership Program, Phase III ($3 million in grant funding – Rural Community Assistance Corp.) – This project will improve water and wastewater infrastructure to address water quality concerns in underserved rural disadvantaged communities that otherwise would face potential water shortages and continued exposure to contaminated drinking water supplies.
  • Hodges Reservoir Natural Treatment System ($2.9 million in grant funding – City of San Diego) – This project will create a biofiltration wetland at Hodges Reservoir to improve water quality. The wetland also will provide habitat and species conservation benefits, in addition to recreational opportunities.
  • Safari Park Drought Response and Outreach($2.9 million in grant funding – The Zoological Society of San Diego) – This project will save 72 acre-feet per year of potable water through increased conservation and recycled water use. Conservation will be achieved through reduced landscape irrigation by replacing turf grass with water-wise landscaping and upgrading the existing wastewater treatment plant. The Zoological Society also will expand its water conservation education at the Safari Park and online.
  • Integrated Water Resource Solutions for the Carlsbad Watershed ($2.5 million in grant funding – San Elijo Joint Powers Authority) – This project uses recycled water and low-impact development strategies to offset potable water demands, reduce urban runoff and implement water quality monitoring at San Elijo Lagoon.
  • San Diego River Healthy Headwaters Restoration ($2.1 million in grant funding – U.S. Forest Service) – This project implements a watershed approach to removing invasive species such as feral pigs, invasive weeds and invasive aquatics, along with restoration of impacted sites through decommissioning of unauthorized trails and campgrounds, installation of drainage improvements, and site rehabilitation in the San Diego River watershed. In total, the project will improve 335 acres of habitat and improve hydrologic conditions that have been negatively impacted by unauthorized recreation.
  • Escondido Advanced Water Treatment for Agriculture ($2 million in grant funding – City of Escondido) – This project will construct a new microfiltration/reverse osmosis advanced treatment facility with a production capacity of 2 million gallons per day. Water treated at the facility will be blended with water from an existing recycled water plant and distributed to agricultural customers in the northern and eastern areas of Escondido.
  • Sweetwater Reservoir Wetlands Habitat Recovery ($1.5 million in grant funding – Sweetwater Authority)This project will remove invasive species, and restore and rehabilitate approximately 113 acres of primarily riparian habitat near Sweetwater Reservoir. It will reestablish the river-floodplain connection and enable full use of Sweetwater Reservoir so it can store an additional 7,873 acre-feet of water.
  • UC San Diego Water Conservation and Watershed Protection ($1.4 million in grant funding – UC San Diego) – This project will conserve an estimated 200 acre-feet of water per year by expanding water reuse at UC San Diego’s cooling tower, retrofitting heating-ventilation-air conditioning systems to allow for condensation water reuse; replacing turf grass; and education. Watershed protection efforts include removing trash and invasive species from the Tijuana River Valley.
  • San Diego Water Conservation Program ($866,000 in grant funding – City of San Diego) – This project will conserve an estimated 75 acre-feet of water per year by expanding the city’s turf replacement rebate program and implementing a greywater system rebate pilot program.
  • Ms. Smarty-Plants Grows Water-Wise Schools ($652,000 in grant funding – The Water Conservation Garden) – This project will target Title I schools and disadvantaged communities in Spring Valley and Lemon Grove to deliver the Ms. Smarty-Plants Grows Earth Heroes education program. The Garden also will identify 12 to 15 schools to participate in its Water-Wise Schools effort, which helps convert landscapes to water-wise plants, upgrade irrigation systems and adopt water-wise practices.
  • Conservation Home Makeover in the Chollas Creek Watershed ($542,000 in grant funding – Groundwork San Diego) – This project will engage low-income families in San Diego’s Encanto neighborhood to mitigate drought impacts through water capture and greywater reuse for food production and landscaping.

In addition, the grant includes approximately $934,000 for administering the projects. For more information about the IRWM Plan, go to

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