By Karen Brainard
Calling it a “huge milestone,” Ernest Garrett, chair of San Diego Country Estates Association’s Water Resource Management Committee, said the association is entering the final phase of its 10-year recycled water plan.
On Jan. 22, three members of the five-member SDCEA board gave approval to proceed with a large holding pond on the 14th hole of the San Vicente Golf Course that will minimize pumping costs and add storage capacity for recycled water, said Garrett. Board Treasurer Perry Jones cast the dissenting vote and President Doug Kafka, who abstained, said he only votes in the case of a tie.
Garrett said construction bids have been received and funding of $650,000 has been budgeted for the work. Kafka said the board will be interviewing contractors.
“The feeling is this completes the whole picture of what the Estates can do,” said Kafka, adding that the board wants to work “hand in hand” with Ramona Municipal Water District.
The water district treats effluent for recycled water at its San Vicente Wastewater Reclamation Plant near the Estates and sells it to SDCEA, which uses it to irrigate the golf course. Kafka said SDCE developer Ray Watts built the recycling plant and turned it over to the water district.
In 2003, the Estates found there was no plan or infrastructure in place for the Estates to receive water from the plant and store it, according to Garrett. In 2008, he said, RMWD, SDCEA and Spangler Ranch, a nearby avocado grove, reached an agreement to share output of the recycling plant, and created the 10-year Effluent Disposal Agreement.
The Estates set up a three-phased plan. Phase I and II created a pond on Hole No. 18, and a pond on Holes No. 1 and 3 to store recycled water.
“The grand plan really called for us to have one more lake,” said Kafka. Pond 14, once completed, will hold 11 acre feet of water, he said. An acre foot is 325,851 gallons of water.
In his recommendation to the SDCEA board to approve Phase III, Garrett stated: “With completion of Phase III, these upgrades will not only assure long range continuation of ‘savings’ through 2018, we will be in a strong negotiating position with a solid infrastructure, a position our communities will need in the future. Plus, these upgrades will ensure reduction of cost for irrigation water by nearly $4 million in 2018.”
For greater savings and benefits, Kafka said the association recently installed a computer controlled irrigation system that can sense areas that need to be watered, so some areas will not be over-watered.
Another benefit to the additional pond, Kafka noted, is that it can be used for helicopters to draw water from when performing drops during a wildfire.
The lake will be on the left side of the fairway, close to the green on the par 4 Hole No. 14, Kafka said.
“The new lake will give it a different look,” he said.
The SDCEA board also approved the final transfer of an existing recycled water pipeline from RMWD to SDCEA. The portion of the 8-inch pipeline is within SDCEA property and serves recycled water to Pond 18.
The water board approved the transfer at its Jan. 22 meeting, noting that SDCEA will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of that pipeline portion, but will then be able to work on the new infrastructure for Pond 14 without RMWD involvement.
Garret said that, with the cost of water soaring, re-use of recycled water has to be part of the future solution for communities.