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Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s recycled water expansion project named ‘Project of the Year’

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(Courtesy)

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Recycled Water Pipeline Extension 153A was recognized recently as a 2020 Project of the Year by the San Diego and Imperial County Chapter of the American Public Works Association at its virtual awards event, according to a news release.

The pipeline connected the Surf Cup Sports youth soccer fields in San Diego to OMWD’s recycled water distribution system. By allowing Surf Cup to convert the irrigation of 55 acres of grass fields to recycled water, OMWD has reduced potable water demands for irrigation by up to 100 million gallons per year.

“OMWD’s board is honored to receive this award for a collaborative project, which expanded the use of recycled water while protecting the environment,” stated OMWD Board Treasurer Larry Watt. “Additionally, state grant funding helped pay for the project, reducing costs for our ratepayers.”

The project involved the installation of 1,600 feet of 8-inch PVC pipeline that required specialized drilling and interagency cooperation to be completed. The pipeline needed to cross the San Dieguito River, causing design, permitting, and construction obstacles. OMWD’s design team elected to utilize horizontal directional drilling to install the pipeline more than 60 feet below the river bottom. Horizontal directional drilling reduces not only surface area damage, but also environmental impacts from construction site dust, making it less impactful to nearby habitat and communities than traditional excavation work.

OMWD worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a streambed alteration agreement to ensure the protection of fish and wildlife habitat. OMWD also worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect nesting birds such as the federally listed clapper rail and barn owl. By OMWD taking proactive steps, such as daily biological sweeps of the project and inspections of the trenchless process, there was no adverse impact to habitat or species in the project area.

Interagency cooperation was also required for this project as the property is served water by Santa Fe Irrigation District and owned by the City of San Diego. While SFID did not have nearby recycled water infrastructure, it sought to provide Surf Cup fields with a drought-resilient water supply. OMWD was able to step in and meet that need through this project. The project also required approval from the City of San Diego’s City Council to grant a permanent utility easement to access the property.

California’s Department of Water Resources awarded $202,300 for the project in Proposition 84 funding, which is administered by water wholesaler San Diego County Water Authority through the Integrated Regional Water Management program. The San Diego IRWM Program supports collaborative water management to increase regional self-reliance throughout California.

APWA is a professional association of public works agencies, private companies, and individuals dedicated to promoting public awareness through education, advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge. APWA’s local chapter annually recognizes the best public works projects and professionals in San Diego and Imperial Counties. This award raises awareness of the necessary alliance between public agencies, contractors, and consultants, such as architects and environmental engineers, to complete public works projects. — OMWD news release


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