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In 1918, the San Dieguito Water District helped build the Lake Hodges Dam along the San Dieguito Creek near Escondido. Courtesy photo
In 1918, the San Dieguito Water District helped build the Lake Hodges Dam along the San Dieguito Creek near Escondido. Courtesy photo
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San Dieguito Water District celebrates 100 years

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Water District celebrated its 100th anniversary this month, marking a century of supplying water to more than 38,000 residents in coastal Encinitas, including Leucadia and Cardiff.

“I’m really happy and excited to be celebrating this amazing milestone,” said Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca, president of the San Dieguito Water District. “It’s been a pleasure serving on the [water district] board.”

The San Dieguito Water District was originally founded as the San Dieguito Irrigation District for agricultural purposes. Since then, the water district has sourced water locally from Lake Hodges, a reservoir just outside of Escondido.

In its early years, the San Dieguito Water District, in collaboration with the Santa Fe Irrigation District, helped build the Lake Hodges Dam that still serves both water districts today. The dam and reservoir were sold in 1925 to the City of San Diego, which currently owns and manages the site.

“The local water source is key,” Mosca said, referring to Lake Hodges.

Water from local sources is more drought resilient and inexpensive than importing water, Mosca said. In addition to water from Lake Hodges, the district also imports water from the Colorado River, one of the main sources of water for the United States.

A flume trestle was constructed to transport water from Lake Hodges to the San Dieguito Reservoir. Photo courtesy of UCSD
A flume, originally called the Carrol Conduit, and trestle were constructed to transport water from Lake Hodges Dam to San Dieguito Reservoir. Photo courtesy of UCSD

The district is also working with other local water districts to develop ways to recycle water, a process known as potable reuse.

“[Potable reuse] is very interesting and fascinating to me,” Mosca said. “I think one of the successes [of the district] is starting this conversation and collaboration between many of the water districts in North County.”

Portable reuse is part of what Mosca calls a “portfolio approach” to water storage. By sourcing water both locally and from the Colorado River, in combination with seawater desalination and developing potable reuse, the San Dieguito Water District employs a multilayered approach to water storage.

In the midst of California’s level one water shortage and irregularly high water consumption, this enables the district to be a “bright light” in a state suffering from drought, according to Mosca.

“Fortunately for us, our region has done a whole lot of planning,” Mosca said.

The district is also currently implementing a seven-step capital improvement program, which includes projects like pipeline replacements and air pressure regulating stations, according to the district’s Director of Utilities and General Manager Isam Hireish.

To Hireish, the district’s 100th anniversary demonstrates its important role in the community. He was “excited” to receive congratulations from other water districts in the area.

“It means that people are appreciative of what we do and they recognize the efforts [of] my staff … to provide excellent customer service on a regular basis,” he said. “This will be our commitment for the next 100 years hopefully.”

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