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Recycled water project reaches milestone in Encinitas Ranch

ENCINITAS — One of Encinitas’ largest residential neighborhoods is weaning itself away from using drinking water to irrigate its parks, trails and landscaping, and celebrated a major milestone in the process this week.

Officials with San Dieguito Water Authority, San Elijo Joint Powers Authority and the Encinitas Ranch Community Association gathered at Las Verdes Park to christen the first phase of the project that will ultimately convert all of irrigation systems of the community association, city walking trails, and Fox Point Farms to recycled water.

The conversion will free up 14 million gallons of potable water per year, enough drinking water to serve more than 110 homes.

“Conserving potable water through the use of recycled water at parks, businesses, and homeowner associations is good business and sound environmental policy,” said Mayor Kristin Gaspar.

Encinitas Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear, who attended the event at the park off of Quail Gardens Drive and Paseo De Las Verdes, echoed Gaspar’s sentiments.

“This project helps provide water sustainability to our community and it demonstrates the power of local government and the community working together to develop solutions,” Blakespear said.

Encinitas Ranch, which is comprised of six separate communities totaling 500 homes, represents one of the largest residential communities in Encinitas. The community association will purchase the recycled water from the San Elijo Water District, which gets it from a water reclamation facility owned by the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority.

The community association estimates that the purchase of the water and conversion of its infrastructure to accommodate recycled water will cost an estimated $200,000, but will save the association money due to the lower cost of recycled water compared to potable water.

“Plus we support the environmental stewardship it represents.” said Dick Stern, president of the community association.

San Dieguito Water District serves 37,000 customers in Old Encinitas, Cardiff, and Leucadia in the City of Encinitas. San Elijo Joint Powers Authority provides water reclamation, wastewater treatment, and analytical laboratory services for the Cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar, and portions of Rancho Santa Fe.

The agency has been producing recycled water since 2000 and produces nearly 500 million gallons per year.