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San Diego apparently did not receive the water memo

  • Reservoirs in California are going dry, but San Diego has plenty of water for its fountains.


Apparently news hasn’t made it to San Diego that the rest of California is experiencing a severe drought. But as long as the tourists keep their flow of vacation dollars moving through the economy there, who cares, right?

San Diego has a number of picturesque fountains. While the Bea Evenson Fountain in Balboa Park is perhaps the more iconic of the city’s fountains, a new and much larger fountain to rival that is currently under construction.

A new 830-foot-long water fountain is part of San Diego’s 15-acre Waterfront Park project, which includes a massive county government complex. A video provides an update on the fountain project.

The video shows crews running tests on a working mock-up of the fountain, which is not the real fountain, but an expensive research project that will serve as a dry run for the actual fountain that is planned. Once the research is complete on the practice fountain, the real one will be built and the practice one torn down.

I’d like to have the money they wasted on that boondoggle!

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Design teams from San Francisco and elsewhere conceptualized this idea back in about 2004, according to the video. In government-speak that means it was well thought out and planned.

The mock-up was designed to test the idea of the much larger pool. Good idea! A leak was discovered in the test fountain. While engineers claim to have a “theory” about how to fix the leak, an on-camera interview with one engineer admits that they don’t know how to test their theory before building the actual fountain.

Along with the drought, the economic collapse that has choked the rest of California has apparently not reached San Diego either since the project includes a massive $47.4 million price tag.

San Diego Supervisor Dianne Jacob calls the park “an investment in healthy, safe recreation and increased quality of life.” So that’s how the term “investment” is defined.

Thankfully the county is building the project “with the environment in mind.” Those environmental advances include low-energy lighting and the use of recycled water. I don’t think that flushing sound has anything to do with bathrooms.

Drought-tolerant plants are also part of the project. Call it planning ahead in case water deliveries to the city’s other fountains are ever cut back by the state or federal government.

Supervisor Jacob might want to rethink her term “investment” in the context of a project that will use massive amounts of water – an endangered resource in the northern nether-regions of her state. Recycled or not, that water has to come from somewhere.

So, while engineers are playing in the water in San Diego, California farmers are wondering if they will remain in business another season with promised water allocations of 5 percent from the State Water Project and a likelihood of similar deliveries from federal water sources.

The good news is San Diego remains open to tourists. Go see what $47 million and a little a lot of water can build.

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

Jason Foster (not verified)
on Dec 23, 2013

Hello Todd,

My name is Jason Foster. I'm the director of Public Outreach and Conservation for the San Diego County Water Authority. I wanted to introduce myself and share some information about our local water use that you may not be aware of. 

The San Diego region does care deeply about water use efficiency and water resources statewide. Further, we know all too well what it feels like to suffer from drought conditions and experience drastic water supply cutbacks that take a toll on the economy.  Ever since a six-year drought during the late 1980s and early 1990s led to a 31 percent water cutback to our region and devastating economic consequences, we’ve committed to promoting water-use efficiency through legislation and conservation programs.  As a result, San Diego County used less water in 2013 than it did in 1991, despite supporting 600,000 more residents and a significantly larger economy. 

Here's a link to our website,, for more information on this topic.

In addition, we have been executing a long-term strategy to diversify our supply sources, and that includes meeting more of our water needs from sources that do not put additional stress on the Bay-Delta or the Central Valley.  These measures include Colorado River water transfers that are ramping up through 2021, and buying desalinated seawater from the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which will be the largest seawater desalination plant in the nation. It is under construction and expected to begin operations in 2016.

We definitely are with you in believing all regions of California need to do their part to address our collective water challenges.  Looking at our region’s overall achievement in water-use efficiency and our actions in supply development is the most accurate barometer of that effort.

Thanks again for your interest in water issues. Let me know if you need more information about the Water Authority or our region’s water supply/demand for future stories.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 24, 2013

If Western Farm Press readers are interested in comments that provide other facts and opinions then you must request that this publication actually post the comments that readers provide. I have sent in several comments but none have been posted. When this level of censorship occurs then we, the readers, are penalized. I think we are intelligent enough to form our own opinions without the protection of Big Brother.

on Dec 25, 2013

Why pick on San Diego? Las Vagas wastes more water and electricity than any resort city in Calif.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 26, 2013

I'm a southern CA native and agree with the project, but want to shed light on what I believe is a larger water related issue. The irrigation management along freeways easily and continues to rack up wasted water quantities and dollars due to careless and insulting management. I regularly see dozens of high flow irrigation heads spraying into the freeway or broken causing geysers. I say start here to save water for our growers, dollars to all tax payers and keep the fountain. Properly managed irrigation will easily pay for it.

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