OMWD celebrates recycled water pumping station

OMWD celebrates recycled water pumping station
Board members of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District from left: Christy Guerin, Robert Topolovac and Larry Watt, celebrate the grand opening of a new “fueling” station on Wednesday. The facility allows OMWD residential customers to fill up drums with recycled water for such uses as landscaping. Photo by Aaron Burgin

REGION — A “fueling” station in the 4S Ranch community is giving new meaning to the phrase “fill ‘er up.”

The Olivenhain Municipal Water District on Wednesday celebrated the grand opening of its recycled water fill station off of Campania Avenue and Camino San Thomas. The facility is believed to be the first of its kind in San Diego.

Residential customers can stop by the station three days a week and fill up drums with up to 300 gallons of recycled water, which can be used for landscaping, washing cars, cleaning driveways and other similar uses.

Recycled water, which flows through bright purple pipes, cannot be used for washing dishes, showers, cooking or drinking.

Water District officials said the station will provide a source of water for residents to keep up with their landscaping needs as they are being asked to conserve potable water during the drought. As part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order to cut water use statewide by 25 percent, OMWD users were mandated to cut water use by 32 percent.

“Our customers have risen to the challenge of conservation by replacing lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and limiting their water use, but at the same time, we recognize that they still need a source of water to take care of these things,” OMWD General Manager Kim Thorner said. “This locally supported drought proof water source will allow them to keep their plants alive…while also meeting the state’s mandates.”

Water District officials said the station was inspired by a similar one in Northern California created by the Dublin San Ramon Services District, which has won several awards. OMWD officials learned about it in April at a conference, and the board approved the local proposal in July.

Thorner credited the rapid turnaround from approval to construction, which took less than two months, to a collaborative effort between the local water district, the San Diego County Water Authority, the state Water Resources Control Board and the County Department of Environmental Health.

The station is limited to OMWD customers and cannot be used for commercial use. Users have to sign up for the station online or at the fill station and are given a card that they must show to access the station.

Fail-safes are in place to detect users that might be abusing the privileges, OMWD Operations Manager Cari Dale said.

“If someone is coming and getting the maximum amount every day it is open, we are likely going to investigate to see what they are using the water for,” Dale said. “If we find that they are using the water for commercial or industrial purposes, their privileges will be revoked.”

The station is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those hours could change depending on the popularity of the program.

Officials are already exploring possibilities of a second pump station in the Encinitas area.

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