News Item

South Coast Water District Wins Award of Excellence

LAGUNA BEACH, CA – Aug. 26, 2019 -- The California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) announced the 2019 winners of its Award for Excellence during a ceremony in San Diego Thursday, Aug. 22. South Coast Water District (SCWD) took top honors at the Annual Conference in Public Outreach / Education – Small Agency. This award recognizes the development and implementation of programs that impact or educate a segment of the local community on issues relevant to the industry.

SCWD received the award in recognition of our work over the past two years for our communications efforts for the Tunnel Stabilization & Sewer Pipeline Replacement Project (Tunnel Project). The Tunnel Project is a five-year, $100 million project to replace a two-mile, 65-year-old tunnel that currently houses a gravity sewer. The sewer provides wastewater service for the northern portion of Dana Point, homes along the west side of coast highway at Three Arch Bay and in South Laguna. It is buried approximately 50 feet beneath the bluff from Three Arch Bay to Aliso Beach. The tunnel located 20 - 30 feet from the edge of the cliffs and underneath multimillion dollar homes, sits right above the Pacific Ocean’s federally protected marine life habitat.

South Coast Water District wholeheartedly believes that engaging stakeholders and establishing partnerships is a critical part of our sustainability strategy. Engaging a diverse group of stakeholders over the long term, in constructive and open dialogue makes us a better agency. Working together with our board of directors, contractor Drill Tech, project management firm Parsons Engineering, the City of Laguna Beach, the South Laguna Beach Civic Association, and the residents of South Laguna enabled us to identify and address potential issues proactively and collaboratively.

As a result of this communication, specific modifications were made to the project. The District used an electric crane for the project. It was an added cost of approximately $500,000; however, it cut down considerably on the noise and possible health effects to residents and workers from running a diesel crane. Second, the District installed (at the neighbors’ request), a sliding gate to the site instead of the standard opening outward gate. An electric rail car system was installed within the tunnel. No diesel engines were used at the site. The electrical muck train compartments cut down on the dust emitted when transferring the dirt from the muck buckets to the trucks transporting the materials off-site. We also camouflaged the air system to blend in with the environment and prevent it from being an eyesore. While initially costing the District extra time and money, the result of these changes benefited the project as a whole.

As active members of the communities where we live and work, we are focused on creating shared opportunities as our agency moves forward and doing so in the right way. We want to strengthen the fabric of our communities so that we can all benefit.

To learn more about the project, visit our website at or visit the project’s Facebook site at Board meeting agendas and reports for the tunnel are easily searchable on our website under “Meetings and Agendas” where you can view an on-demand video of past meetings.

About CASA

For over 60 years, CASA has served as the leading voice for clean water agencies on regulatory, legislative and legal issues. We are the leading California association dedicated to advancing wastewater interests, including the recycling of wastewater into usable water, generation of renewable energy, biosolids and other valuable resources. Through our efforts, we help create a clean and sustainable environment for California. We represent over 100 public agencies that engage in the collection, treatment or disposal of wastewater, resource recovery or water recycling. Our membership has grown to also include over 80 associate members involved in the water quality field. Associate members include engineering consultants, service and technology providers, accountants, attorneys and financial institutions.

About SCWD

South Coast Water District was established in 1932. The District currently serves most of Dana Point, South Laguna Beach, and parts of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. District facilities include 15 reservoirs, 147 miles of water lines, 136 miles of sewer lines, seven water pumping stations, 14 sewer pumping stations, and approximately 12,360 water meters. An elected five-member board of directors governs the District. Learn more at, or find us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.