Santa Fe Irrigation District Strategic Plan Focuses On Reliable Water Supply



The Santa Fe Irrigation District Board will consider adopting its new 10-year strategic plan on August 19, setting the framework for the future and sort of setting a new intention for the Water District that will be 100 years old in 2023.

According to SFID Director Al Lau, the plan for the future places a strong emphasis on water resilience, conservation and better engagement with its customers.

“Our mission is to meet the water supply needs of all customers in a safe, sustainable, reliable and cost-effective manner,” said Lau.

SFID’s communications manager, Teresa Penunuri, said the plan is a dynamic document that can be adjusted based on the changing environment and customer needs. They seek feedback from the community as the plan progresses and hope to increase their public awareness.

Lau has worked in the district for three years and Penunuri joined the district last year, but they have known each other since 2003, when she worked for the San Diego County Water Authority and he for the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Both describe themselves as “water nerds”.

Penunuri recalls a childhood spent in a drought in California with a father who strictly enforced short showers, kept a bucket in said shower to water the plants, and washed the car on the lawn. This education led her to focus on her career, with a passion for water conservation.

“We really can’t live without water, so we have to do what we can to protect it, take care of it and have resources available when we live in a place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year,” a- she declared.

“Water is life, it is the backbone of the community,” Lau said.

Penunuri said that now and in the years to come, water is a topic that will be at the forefront of the minds of many people (not just water nerds) as the region and the state face long-term issues such as worsening drought conditions, declining water availability on the Colorado River, the rising cost of providing water, and increasing regulations. These increased regulations include the implementation of ‘Make Water Conservation a Way of Life’ legislation, the state’s new water efficiency targets that must be in place by 2022.

In July, Governor Gavin Newsom called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 15%. Despite drought conditions statewide, the San Diego County Water Authority said the county still has an adequate supply and that there is no shortage or regional mandate to use the water. water because of the strategic investments it had made over the years.

“Even though we are in good shape, we have to do our part and do what we can to use the water efficiently,” Lau said.

SFID serves two very distinct communities, Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe and part of Fairbanks Ranch, with two very different water needs and even different microclimates. The district, unfortunately, holds the distinction of being one of the state’s largest per capita water users.

“We don’t want to be water cops,” Lau said, noting that his goal is to provide resources to help customers meet water use efficiency goals and take advantage of the benefits. local discounts and incentive programs such as rain barrels, sod removal and weather. based irrigation controllers.

According to the strategic plan, the district aims to balance its long-term water supplies and water use to minimize the need for reductions in the event of drought or regulatory changes.

This year, SFID has taken several steps to achieve the strategic plan goals of reliable infrastructure and profitable operations.

The district is in the final stages of installing its automated water meters, preparing for a new agricultural program to offer to local producers, and has completed infrastructure improvements worth approximately $ 10 million. this summer at the RE Badger filtration plant.

Built in 1969, the plant located on Aliso Canyon Road is a “classic” water treatment plant that uses flocculation / coagulation, sedimentation and filtration to take imported and local water sources and treat them for a potable use.

“It’s an old method, but a proven, bulletproof method that doesn’t use a lot of power,” said Tim Bailey, manager of the water treatment plant. “Not a drop is wasted.”

Jointly owned by the San Dieguito Water District, the plant treats raw water from Hodges Lake, the San Dieguito Reservoir and the San Diego County Water Authority. The plant has the capacity to process up to 40 million gallons per day and, in a typical year, processes over 7 billion gallons of potable water.

Bailey said he and his “very skilled and reliable” operators took great pride in the product. To cite just one example of SFID’s extra care, the plant has its own certification lab where it tests water every two hours while state regulations only require it every four. time.

Over the summer, construction of a new solids tank and building began, replacement of the roof of the administration building, and a major seismic upgrade of the 90-foot-high backwash tank. of the plant to ensure the safety and reliability of the processing process.

The ambitious feat of engineering involved building a temporary structure and moving the 90-foot-high green reservoir off its foundations. The sole size will be increased and the tank sanded inside and out before it is put back on its soles.

SFID customers did not receive any water rate increases in 2021. As of January 2020, SFID’s board of directors approved 3% water rate increases for the next three years using a new five-level residential rate. The board and staff were able to identify resources that could be used to maintain the current rate, avoiding an increase this year.

In June, SFID settled its water tariff dispute with the Rancho Santa Fe Association. In the lawsuit, the Association alleged that SFID’s tariff structure unfairly penalized Covenant members with low tariffs. higher water because their larger properties require more water for irrigation. According to the regulations, SFID agreed to hire a rate consultant to prepare a new cost of service study to include, as part of the analysis, a tiered rate structure based on the budget.

The district will prepare the new study this fall and expects to set new rates by the end of the year, with the goal of achieving fair rates for all categories of customers.



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