Water Authority Boosts Conservation Rebate Funding in Response to High Demand

December 18, 2008

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today approved $2.5 million to expand two highly popular conservation incentive…

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors today approved $2.5 million to expand two highly popular conservation incentive programs. The additional funding will make the programs’ rebates and other water-saving services available to significantly more residential and commercial water users as the region continues to cope with drought and court-ordered water supply cutbacks.

The Water Authority’s Smart Landscape Program and High Efficiency Washer (HEW) rebate program have experienced rapid growth in participation levels. The residential HEW program, offered in cooperation with San Diego Gas & Electric, grew from 8,700 incentives redeemed in fiscal year 2007 to 17,500 incentives redeemed in fiscal year 2008. Participation in the Smart Landscape program also has nearly doubled during calendar year 2008, with program disbursements growing from an average of about $91,000 a month during the first half of the year to more $170,000 a month during the second half of 2008.

“Given our water supply challenges, it is critical that we step up our efforts to motivate more residents, businesses and public agencies to purchase devices or make landscape changes that will help our region save water,” said Fern Steiner, chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors.

The Water Authority’s Smart Landscape Program will receive an additional $1.5 million from today’s board action. The Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) will each provide $750,000.

The Smart Landscape Program increases water conservation through a combination of services. They include landscape surveys and water use audits, incentives for repairing broken irrigation hardware, and incentives for upgrading to more efficient irrigation technology, such as weather-based “smart” irrigation controllers and rotating nozzles. The program also provides landscape grants for commercial properties, and much of the program’s growth has come from increasing participation from homeowner associations. Additional information about the Smart Landscape Program is available at: 20gallonchallenge.com/programs.

The Board approved an allocation of $1.05 million to ensure that HEW incentives are available until SDG&E receives approval from the Public Utilities Commission for its energy efficiency programs for the 2009-2011 funding cycle. Under the existing cooperative agreement, SDG&E provides $50 toward each $185 HEW incentive redeemed. The balance of the incentive is funded by MWD.

Since 2006, more than 30,000 high efficiency washers have been installed in homes as a result of the funding partnership between the Water Authority and SDG&E. Over their lifetime, these HEWs will save more than 12,300 acre-feet of water. Additional information on the HEW incentive program is available at www.20gallonchallenge.com/programs.

The Water Authority Board today also approved $2 million in grants to help eight of its member agencies fund new local water supply development studies as part of the Water Authority’s Local Investigations and Studies Assistance (LISA) Program.

“Helping our member agencies find and develop new local water supplies is vital to improving the reliability of our long-term water supplies,” Steiner said.

The program provides cost-sharing grants for early local water supply project development activities including feasibility studies, field investigations, and environmental studies and documentation. In this round of funding, the board approved cost-sharing grants of:

    “¢    $500,000 for the City of San Diego Pilot Production Wells Investigation, to complete four pilot wells to evaluate the production potential of three groundwater basins.”Â

    “¢    $512,500 to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District and Helix Water District El Monte Valley Recharge Project Studies. The grant will provide funding for environmental documentation, public outreach, aerial photography and base mapping, preliminary project design, flow equalization and seasonal storage studies, and other studies necessary for project permits.”Â

    “¢    $17,000 to Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District’s Desalination North/Eastern Conveyance Enhancement Studies, which will expand previous studies that consider the distribution of desalinated water from the Carlsbad Desalination Project to North County water agencies.”Â

    “¢    $170,500 to Carlsbad Municipal Water District’s Encina Basin Water Reclamation Program Phase III Project Feasibility Study to identify potable water customers that can be served with recycled water, and determine feasibility of expanding the Encina Basin Water Reclamation Facility.”Â

    “¢    $500,000 to the City of Oceanside Small Scale Pilot-Demonstration and Feasibility Study to determine the best location for beach (seawater extraction) wells, well yield, and groundwater quality; conduct pilot testing of reverse osmosis membranes; evaluate potential pipeline alignments from wells to the treatment facility; and identify required project components, construction costs, and operating costs. “Â

    “¢    $25,000 to Santa Fe Irrigation District San Dieguito Reservoir Seepage Recovery Study to determine volume of seepage passing downstream of the San Dieguito Reservoir, and to determine feasibility of recovery for irrigation or treatment to potable water standards at the R.E. Badger Filtration Plant. “Â

    “¢    $150,000 to City of Vista/Vista Irrigation District Shadowridge Water Reclamation Facility Feasibility Study and Preliminary Design Investigation to evaluate feasibility of constructing a 2 million-gallon-per-day water reclamation facility at the site of the decommissioned Shadowridge Reclamation Plant in Vista. “Â

    “¢    $125,000 to Valley Center Municipal Water District’s Welk Skimming Plant [Recycled Water] Feasibility Study, Preliminary Design, and Initial Environmental Studies to identify facilities needed to intercept, treat, and distribute recycled water to a local golf course currently using potable water for irrigation.

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  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

    Media Contact Information

    Grace Sevilla

    Phone: (619) 855-5135

    Email: GSevilla@sdcwa.org