ENCINITAS — The city is taking off its books an unused potable water tank and turning it over to recycled water experts to lessen municipal dependency on imported water.
The San Dieguito and Olivenhain Municipal water districts entered into an agreement on June 15 allowing the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority license and right of entry to the J.C Wanket Reservoir, a 3-million-gallon concrete water tank constructed in 1975.
The tank, adjacent to the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, is no longer in service due to property ratepayers reduced water use. San Elijo water officials intend to restore the reservoir, re-equipping the concrete receptacle to take on recycled water.
“It’s not needed anymore, it’s offline,” said Michael Thornton, general manager of San Elijo Joint Powers Authority. “We’re like, ’Hey, let’s repurpose that tank and we will use it for recycled water,’ which is really critical in this drought time, but we’ll also be able to save the ratepayers money.”
Under the latest agreement — which maintains land ownership for San Dieguito and Olivenhain — San Elijo Joint Powers Authority, a wastewater and recycled water agency with strong ties to both districts, gets the depreciated water tank.
Thorton said the effort to refurbish the J.C. Wanket tank for recycled water storage will expand water availability for both districts, lessening each’s dependency on imported water.
“It’ll give us more storage for recycled water,” Thornton said, adding that “having the storage helps us treat the water, store it and then be able to reuse it back in our communities.”
The J.C. Wanket recycled water will generally be used for irrigation and other uses from industrial clients in the area.
“It helps us expand our recycled water service to the northern area of Encinitas,” Thornton said.
Thornton praised the collaborative mindset of Olivenhain and San Dieguito water districts for creating a “win-win solution” in building local sustainability.
Once the project is put out for bid, construction time is anticipated for 18 months. Thornton said that because funds are coming from San Elijo’s sale of recycled water accounts, ratepayers will not feel the fiscal impact of this new build.
In fact, San Elijo has also received preliminary approval for state and federal grants totaling about $750,000.
“The anticipated project cost is $2.2 million, which is substantially less than building a new tank, further providing benefits to the water district ratepayers,” Thornton said.
For several decades, Olivenhain and San Dieguito water districts used the jointly-owned reservoir to hold treated potable water. San Dieguito was entitled to one-third of the tank’s capacity and expected to pay the same portion for maintenance costs, regardless of use.
San Dieguito has never used its capacity at the J.C. Wanket tank, according to city staff. Olivenhain utilized the tank from 1975 to 2008.
The agreement made last week also waives a $134, 796.40 debt San Dieguito owes to the original contract agreement for annual minimum recycled water purchases from the fiscal year 2019-2020.