March 2011 home page

  Water Ways
Henry Abarbanel | Crest Road


Pump Station Crane. Photo Art Olson



This is part of a series of Sandpiper items centered on infrastructure in Del Mar. As any municipality, some of Del Mar’s primary responsibilities encompass law enforcement, fire safety, and providing infrastructure for a community: water delivery, sewage removal, safe roads, and a few similar items. Some of the information discussed comes from David Scherer, soon to be Del Mar’s former Public Works Director.

This is about water. Del Mar receives it from the City of San Diego (COSD) which purchases it from the County Water Authority (CWA) then treats it for purity and quality and delivers it to the Crest Road and the Torrey Pines reservoirs. Water is pumped to Crest Road and is gravity fed to the rest of us. Commodity water costs from CWA and its purchases from the Colorado and Sierra Nevada, and then through the COSD, dominate your water bill. Del Mar’s water fund is, as all in California, an “enterprise” fund. The fees we pay are calculated to cover the costs anticipated for the coming year for commodity water, operations and maintenance of the local water system, and a reserve for droughts and emergencies. It is NOT paid for through taxes.

Del Mar’s careful management of its water system have resulted in costs that appear high compared to neighboring San Diego which, until recently, did the minimum to maintain its infrastructure. In the years, however, San Diego’s water costs have risen about 70%, so now, and into the forseeable future, the cost of a comparable, average home use in Del Mar is less than the same use in San Diego.

Water use in Del Mar has decreased almost 1/3 since 2007 both among businesses, residents, and Fairground consumption. Water bonds floated in 1995 to redo the water pipes in Del Mar all at once, saving the City a few million dollars, are now paid off, and there is “no metal in the ground” according to Scherer.

Are there problems? Sure, a few: water pressure on Crest especially has fallen because of San Diego demand; the reservoir at Zuni needs a new roof, and maintenance will remain a costly priority to avoid COSD like rapid rises in cost.
Overall, we have been good stewards of our water system, and while we will face increased costs for the commodity supply, we have cared for our local system with success.



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