Metropolitan celebrates four innovative, water-saving projects

News for Immediate Release__
Metropolitan celebrates four innovative, water-saving projects

Second annual One Water Awards spotlight Southern California leaders in conservation, commitment to finding water-efficient solutions

Note to editors: event photos are available upon request. Videos highlighting each award-winning project are available  here.

May 2, 2024

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Four Southern California projects in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties that showcase the latest in water efficiency and together will save more than 200 million gallons of water annually were recognized today by the Metropolitan Water District.

Held on Tap Water Day and as part of California’s Water Awareness Month, Metropolitan’s second annual One Water Awards ceremony at the California Endowment in downtown Los Angeles honored projects in Carson, Perris, El Cajon and Tarzana funded by Metropolitan’s Water Savings Incentive Program and Turf Replacement Program. The projects feature major improvements to water management operations and equipment such as reusing condensation from air conditioning and heating systems, recycling irrigation runoff, switching to sustainable landscaping, and installing more efficient irrigation systems.

“Extreme drought and climate change require us to think differently about how we use water,” said Metropolitan board Chair Adán Ortega, Jr. “The water-saving projects developed by these four organizations are great examples of the actions that must be taken to adapt to our changing climate and store water for use when we need it.”

For example, more than 800 billion gallons of the water Metropolitan currently has in storage is due to the region’s investments in conservation, Ortega said. Without these conserved supplies, the district’s storage reserves would have reached critically low levels during severe droughts over the past decade, he added.

“That water is there for the next drought, and we thank these innovators for doing their part,” Ortega said

California State University, Dominguez Hills, which is served by West Basin Municipal Water District, received a One Water Award for its HVAC condensate recovery project. Conceived by the university’s engineering students, the project captures and reuses high-quality water from HVAC condensation at the Carson campus that was previously lost to sewer drains. The system uses a network of clear pipes and tanks to collect condensate from various campus buildings and redirects it for use in the school’s cooling towers, saving approximately 80,000 gallons of water a year. The project also serves as an educational lab, attracting hundreds of visitors annually to learn about water stewardship.

Metropolitan honored Altman Specialty Plants, which is served by Western Municipal Water District, for an innovative system at their nursery site that recycles 80% of their irrigation runoff. Working with Clean Water3 and UC Davis, the Perris grower uses vegetated wetlands to treat the water and remove harmful chemicals, and canna plants, barley hay and goldfish to create a sustainable ecosystem that further breaks down pollutants and generates high-quality water that can be reused for irrigation. The system is projected to save 180 million gallons annually.

The Jamacha Park Homeowners Association,
a 64-home community in El Cajon that is served by the San Diego County Water Authority, was presented with a One Water Award for its work to replace 58,000 square feet of grass on its pathways and gathering spaces with more climate-appropriate plants, efficient irrigation and stormwater retention elements. Using funding from Metropolitan and SDCWA’s turf replacement programs, and from San Diego County’s Landscape Optimization Service, the project reduces water use by 80% and is projected to save 270,000 gallons a year.

Tarzana’s El Caballero Country Club, which is served by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, was honored for redesigning its golf course to improve environmental sustainability. In collaboration with Southern California Golf Association and with incentives from Metropolitan, the golf course replaced cool-season turf with drought-tolerant, warm-season Bermuda grass that is known for its year-round playability. Additional improvements included installing high-efficiency irrigation equipment and vibrant, low water-use plants, helping to reduce the course’s water use by 33% and estimated to save 28 million gallons of water per year.

“These organizations are true leaders – they are examples of what can happen through innovation and a strong commitment to saving water and creating a more sustainable environment for our communities,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil.

Metropolitan has funded more than 180 projects through its Water Savings Incentive Program, generating an estimated water savings of 1.5 billion gallons of water per year. The program provides funding to commercial, industrial, institutional and agricultural customers that make water efficiency upgrades to their facilities beyond Metropolitan’s standard commercial rebate programs. It pays up to $0.60 per 1,000 gallons of water saved annually through customized projects that are developed by each organization to fit its needs.

Metropolitan’s Turf Replacement Program has transformed more than 200 million square feet of thirsty lawns into sustainable landscapes – saving enough water to serve about 68,000 homes annually. For more information on Metropolitan’s conservation initiatives and rebate programs visit


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.