SAN DIEGO — Representatives from various local agencies were among the approximately 30 people at an Oct. 26 ribbon cutting to commemorate San Dieguito Park’s 100 percent conversion to recycled water.
Attendees included veteran newsman, former Del Mar mayor and retired Coast News columnist Bill Arballo, who played a key role in acquiring the site for the county.
Arballo was a member of the United States Junior Chamber, better known as the Jaycees, in 1953 when the group bought the land from the Santa Fe Irrigation District with a $10 check and gifted it to the county with the provision that it remain open space.
The transaction remains valid despite the fact that the check bounced.
“Bill completes that circle,” Solana Beach Councilman Dave Roberts said. “It’s because of your vision and leadership that this is happening.”
Sewage from Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and Cardiff-by-the Sea is converted to recycled water by the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority. It is then sold to customers such as the Santa Fe Irrigation District, which in turn sells it to customers like the park.
“I’m really pleased to be a part of this,” said Roberts, who sits on the JPA board of directors.
Waste was collected by private companies and dumped into the ocean until the 1960s, when “we decided that was not acceptable,” Roberts said. “We’ve just got to find more customers like this.”
Michael Hogan, president of the irrigation district’s board of directors, said the move takes the organization one step closer to meeting its environmental sustainability goals.
“Anything we can do locally to limit the amount of water we import is a benefit,” Hogan said. “This conversion is saving water for 100 homes in the district.”
The ceremony marked the lower park’s conversion to recycled water. The upper park has been using it since 2001.
Also attending the event were Encinitas City Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who is Arballo’s daughter, and representatives from Solana Beach, the county Parks and Recreation Department, the Olivenhain Municipal Water and Santa Fe Irrigation districts and the JPA.
San Dieguito Park is a 125-acre facility that includes playgrounds, exercise stations, a basketball court, pavilions, a wedding gazebo, open lawn and picnic areas, barbecues and trails.
It is also home to the Miracle Field, a fully accessible baseball field that accommodates children and adults with special needs.