Saturday, July 28, 2007
Concerns over water quality
Working to bridge troubles over water
By Michael Burge
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 29, 2007
ESCONDIDO– Memo to Lake Hodges: We don't want your water.
A long-term plan to exchange water between the inland North County lake and Olivenhain Reservoir remains in doubt, with the Olivenhain Municipal Water District standing firm that it will not mix the two sources until Hodges water is cleaned up.
“We have a button here that says, 'What happens in Hodges stays in Hodges,' ” Mark Muir, an Olivenhain board member, told a joint meeting of his and the Santa Fe Irrigation District boards Wednesday.
But Gary Eaton, director of operations and maintenance for the San Diego County Water Authority, said it is working with Olivenhain and other water agencies on a plan to ensure that Hodges water meets quality standards before it enters the county's water supply.
“It's not in anybody's benefit to put poor-quality water into the aqueduct or anybody's system,” Eaton said yesterday. He said a committee composed of engineers from Olivenhain, the authority and other concerned agencies expects to propose an operations plan to the authority's board in November.
One of the group's first chores, Eaton said, is to separate fact from fiction.
“There is a perception that the trees you currently see (in the lake) are a real issue for water quality,” Eaton said. “The reality is that is not case.
Water-quality issues stem from runoff from Hodges' 250-square-mile watershed, which extends east to Julian. Farms and city dwellers have dumped chemicals and bacteria into sewers that feed into the lake, polluting it. After years of drought, thousands of willow trees that sprouted in the lake's dry bed were submerged when Hodges filled again in 2005.
The issue of the lake's water quality drew attention in November when David McCollom, Olivenhain's general manager at the time, suggested draining the lake and refilling it with imported water to rid it of contaminants.
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