The San Diego County Sanitation District provides sewer service to approximately 35,000 customers within the unincorporated area. It owns and operates approximately 432 miles of pipeline, 8,200 manholes, 10 lift stations/pressurized mains, and 3 wastewater treatment plants. The collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater in an environmentally safe and efficient manner promotes healthy communities and increases the quality of life for local residents.
The Wastewater Management Section of the County Department of Public Works is responsible for operation and overall administration of the San Diego County Sanitation District. The Board of Directors of the District serves as the governing body; a function performed by the County Board of Supervisors. The Director of Public Works provides general oversight, planning and direction for the District. Under the direction of the DPW Director, staff of the Wastewater Management Section (WWM) perform day-to-day operational activities associated and District administration. The WWM Section is located at the County Operations Center, 5500 Overland Avenue, Suite 315, San Diego, CA 92123. The District’s Spring Valley Operations office is where specialized maintenance equipment and personnel are located. The address is 11937 Campo Road, Spring Valley, CA 91978. Unincorporated communities served by the District include Alpine, Campo, East Otay Mesa, Julian, Lakeside, Spring Valley, Pine Valley, and Winter Gardens.
The District issues wastewater discharge permits to residential and commercial customers, sewer construction permits, wastewater encroachment permits, and a variety of other permits depending on circumstances. WWM staff conduct plan checks for sewer related projects, provide management and engineering services for capital improvement projects and maintenance projects, provides sewer mapping, budget administration, billing, and general record keeping associated with District administration. WWM also provides support services related to wastewater and the provision of potable water for other agencies such as County Parks, Sheriff facilities and the San Pasqual Academy.
Wastewater Collection & Transmission
Wastewater flows originating within the communities of Alpine, East Otay Mesa, Lakeside, Spring Valley, and Winter Gardens, are ultimately transmitted to the City of San Diego’s Point Loma Treatment Plant for treatment and disposal. The District maintains and operates approximately 432 miles of sewer lines, 8,200 manholes, and 10 lift stations. The sewer lines are routinely cleaned, inspected using Closed-Circuit TV equipment, and repaired and rehabilitated at needed. There is also a maintenance schedule for the manholes and lift stations.
Operation of the sewerage system in a safe and efficient manner, and meeting the needs of District customers are our primary goals. Each day, we strive to provide uninterrupted collection and transmission of millions of gallons of wastewater from homes and businesses as a testament to our commitment to customer satisfaction.
Wastewater Lift Stations & Treatment Plants
The District’s treatment facilities and processes are strictly regulated and include well defined operational procedures, laboratory testing requirements, and quarterly reporting. The strictly regulated process ensures the District is meeting all Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) requirements. Management of these facilities includes reliance on sophisticated monitoring tools including a computer database which schedules, tracks, and alerts staff of recurring problem areas.
Lift stations undergo daily, weekly and monthly inspections/checks, routine maintenance tasks and alarm testing that increases the service life and reliability of all equipment. Stations are linked to the main office via radio telemetry, enabling staff to obtain real-time status from miles away. In the event of a problem, the computer alarm system will notify personnel of the problem. All of the stations are equipped with redundant control systems, pumps, and overflow storage basins to increase the ability to avert a spill. All critical stations are equipped with emergency generators to supply power.
Wastewater flows originating within the communities of Campo, Julian, and Pine Valley, are transmitted to local community wastewater treatment plants. Treatment plants are complex and remarkably efficient at treating wastewater that achieves compliance with State regulatory permits requiring no detrimental impacts to ground water. In order to adequately treat wastewater and comply with Statue regulations, all District treatment plant operators a State Certified.
Wastewater flows entering a treatment plant (influent) will undergo many hours of physical, biological and chemical treatment before the treatment process is completed. The physical treatment process begins when the wastewater enters the plant through the head works, passing through bar screens and grit removal basins. This initial treatment removes large, solid objects from the water that would otherwise disrupt the treatment process. Next, the wastewater enters primary clarifiers where the flow is slowed to allow heavier, solid particles to settle and the lighter solids to float. Biological treatment involves sending wastewater through advanced secondary treatment processes, which utilize aeration basins to remove 90-95% of the suspended solids and dissolved organics. Biological treatment also removes most of the organic nutrients. Secondary clarifiers enable additional settling of solid materials before the final treatment stage of disinfect ion. Solids separated during the process, commonly called sludge or bio-solids, undergo a stabilization process by aerobic digestion. The sludge (bio-solids) is dried in adjacent containment beds, stored in covered containment structures, and finally disposed, after testing, in a sanitary landfill.
Upon completion of the treatment processes, effluent is chlorinated and then pumped to storage basins or percolation beds. Storage basins provide Julian with a source of onsite irrigation water. The Campo and Pine Valley plants utilize percolation beds to help recharge underground aquifers.
Maintenance activity and emergency response reports become data which is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the preventative maintenance programs. Recurring problem areas are identified and subsequently targeted for increased maintenance frequency or corrective measures to ensure problem areas does not become a threat to public health and safety.
In the event of a major problem, the District will initiate its response plan which provides a timely controlled response with all the resources required to avert or control any foreseen situation. Calls from the public during normal hours are responded to by the closest available crew. After-hour calls are routed via the County's Communication Center to on-call personnel.
Water Distribution by DPW Wastewater Management Personnel
The Sanitation District is not a drinking water provider. However, DPW’s Wastewater Management Section, operating independently from the District, does operate and maintain potable water distribution systems for the San Pasqual Academy, Descanso Detention Facility, and Campo community. The water sources are ground water wells used to supply potable water and water for fire protection stored in above ground reservoir tanks. The water distribution systems are comprised of water wells, pump stations, water mains (pipelines), valves and fire hydrants. Service connections and water meters are also included in the system. Well water is tested and chlorinated prior to distribution.