Home-Makeover & Water Conservation Project Nominated for National Award

By | Uncategorized


​Our Home-Makeover & Water Conservation Project in the Chollas Creek Watershed region has just been nominated for a national award!  The San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, recognizing the project as a leading innovation in San Diego’s Climate Action and Water Conservation efforts, has submitted it to the The Atlas Marketplace, a digital platform that collects resilient infrastructure case studies from around the United States to serve as best practices for other communities.  The Groundwork project is engaging scores of climate action ambassador- residents in the Chollas Creek Watershed.  The project’s installations include:

  • Rainbarrels for saving water and capturing potential run-off
  • Drought tolerant trees providing greenhouse gas sequestration for air improvement and runoff reduction
  • Greywater systems, with a savings of approximately 150 gallons per week per family, for landscape use and waste water reduction
  • Earthworks for irrigation reduction and hardscape replacement for runoff reduction
  • Faucet aerators, low flush toilets and efficient showerheads

Because water experts advocate for large rainbarrel installations (400 gallons or more) to achieve maximum benefits, residents have been willing to accommodate the largest available.  Below is resident Irma Williams with a 450 gallon rainbarrel!


Event: Earth Day at the EarthLab – Sat, April 21st

By | Uncategorized


We are excited to announce that we are hosting Earth Day at EarthLab  on Saturday, April 21st, from 9-11am. Our incredible partner, NASSCO, will be joining us again to remove dead trees, clean the creek bed, spread mulch, and remove trash. This will be a productive day for the EarthLab and for the environment.

We will also have select science teachers conducting age-appropriate activities for our younger students. These activities include science experiments, seed planting, arts & crafts, and more.

Alex at the EarthLab: February

By | Farm

Hello From Groundwork!

Our outdoor climate action center, the EarthLab, is now open on Saturdays  from 9am to noon, so please come see our students and volunteers in action, or lend a hand.  Here is an  update from our EarthLab manager, Alex Garcia, on some of the EarthLab comings and goings.

Hi everyone! Hope you all enjoyed your holidays and hope you all have started 2018 with a bang! A positive bang that is! Yes, I’m aware, it’s already been 3 months since we started 2018. So, without further ado, let me update you a little bit on what has been happening at EarthLab.

One of those tasks was to plant some Sycamore and some Willow trees by the creek. Not sure if you all remember but a few months ago we got some help from the marines during fleet week as well as some help from NASSCO. They helped clean up the creek by removing all the weeds and trash. Now that the creek is all clear we decided to plant some trees! Not much to look at, at the moment, since they aren’t fully grown. But, take a look…..

Well, since we are talking about the creek, let me show you what else I have been up to. About a year ago we started seeing some paw prints appearing on the seed trays that we have over at the native plant propagation center. We also started seeing some of the plants that we have in 1 gal pots tipped over, as well as scat. But, most frustrating of all, our irrigation pipes were torn. All of this was occurring pretty much on a daily basis. The culprit: coyotes! Well, there is an opening by the south end of the creek covered by, what I will refer to as, a grate. The grate had big enough openings for a coyote, even big enough for a human, to squeeze through. So I decided to cover it up with some chicken wire and Wholla! Problem solved! Until, a few weeks back when someone decided to pull it apart. Our coyote friends are very clever…next move is theirs!


Let’s go ahead and change scenery and head over to the propagation center. Something that I haven’t or perhaps briefly mentioned is that we are working on a project called the I.R.W.M project. To keep it brief, my role is to help in the installation of native plants at homes in the Encanto neighborhood. Some of the plants we propagate and some we acquire. Recently, we acquired some soft agave but, we can’t just go and plant them right away. They need to be aired dried until the soft inner tissue calluses over. Check it out….

Well, that’s it for now. See you all next time!

Groundwork Recieves Grant to Upgrade a Portion of Chollas Creek

By | Project Updates, Public Service

Groundwork San Diego has been awarded a grant from the California Department of Water Resources through San Diego County’s Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) program to complete the planning phase for two projects in Chollas Creek.  One project will remove invasive nuisance plants along portions of the creek, and the other will restore the portion of Chollas Creek that runs along Federal Blvd between I-805/Beradini Field  and Home Ave.

The Federal Blvd project will include removing the concrete channel and replacing with a soft bottom, planting native vegetation, and installing a trail along the edge of the creek. This is one of the important trail connections that will one day provide Chollas Creek Watershed residents a pedestrian/bicycle trail from La Mesa to the Bayshore Bikeway!

Concept drawing of future Chollas Creek along Federal Blvd.


Energy and Water Conservation Rebates

By | Community Support


If you are a resident of San Diego, there are all sorts of rebates out there that can help you save money on your bills, and also help you conserve water and energy. Through our EcoVillage program, we offered upgrades like Rainwater Harvesting Barrels, and Laundry-to-landscape systems free of charge for residents within our project area, but you can still access these technologies and much more at discounted prices by taking advantage of the rebates and savings offered by the City of San Diego, SDG&E, SoCal WaterSmart, and the Center for Sustainable Energy.

In these articles we’ll run you through the rebates and discounts you can get, and some information regarding each one.

The first set of rebates we’ll get into are for products that you can install in your home that can cut down on your water usage, saving you some money on your bill and contributing to conserving water in our drought-prone region.


High Efficiency Toilet

It’s safe to say that toilet flushing is a daily operation, and something that is hard to imagine life without. Toilet flushing on average accounts for 30% of total in-home water use, so while we won’t make any arguments for removing toilets altogether to conserve water, it’s worth looking at these newer, more efficient toilets that can make a big difference.  By installing a high efficiency toilet in your home you can save over $800 over the lifetime of the product.

The rebate is for $40 back per toilet. Based on the list of qualifying model you can get a high-efficiency toilet that uses less than 1.1 gallons per flush for around $300.

Click here for this rebate: High Efficiency Toilet


High Efficiency Clothes Washer

Doing laundry amounts to about 15% of the average residential water usage. Cutting down on the amount of water and energy going into your laundry routine can save you $400 over the washer’s lifespan. There are actually two separate rebates that you can use in conjunction to save on your purchase of a high efficiency clothes washer.

The first comes through SoCal Water$mart and will get you $85 rebated on your purchase. That can be found here:  High Efficiency Clothes Washer

The second one is through SDG&E and is a $25 rebate on your purchase. The information for that one can be found here: SDG&E Washer Rebate


Energy Efficient Water Heaters

SDG&E also offers rebates for both Electric and Gas water heaters. To find out which model will be best for you, check out this comprehensive infographic by the Department of Energy. Like the infographic mentions, heating up your water takes up 14-18% of your household energy use, so finding the one that is right for you will be crucial.

Click here for that rebate: Energy Efficieny Water Heaters


Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV)

There are plenty of other points in the home where you can save a lot of water over the course of a year. One source of water waste, and something that could be damaging your plumbing system, is at the point where the water enters your homes pipes. The water pressure coming into your home might be too high, which can cause leaky pipes and those wretched noises that haunt every turn of the knobs. By Installing  Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) you can lower the pressure, and save an average of 30,000-40,000 gallons of water per year.

Read through the page to learn how to apply: City of San Diego Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) Rebate


Socal Water$mart Checkup

This one doesn’t count as a rebate, but it’s a great (and free) way to find out other ways to make your home more efficient. You will receive a free evaluation of your water usage by an expert, recommending you ways to save money and water in your home.
Sign up for that here: Socal Water$mart Checkup.

Socal Water$mart also has this great list of tips for conserving water, which can help you begin thinking about ways to upgrade your daily routines, or to bring home some new technologies to contribute to our regional water conservation efforts.



With all these technologies and tips combined, you could be saving hundreds of dollars and tens of thousands of gallons every year. That wraps up the indoor water rebates and conservation resources that we found, and if you happen to know of anything we missed, send an email to ali@groundworksandiego.org and we’ll begin spreading the word.

Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter for more rebate information!



EarthLab Education Corner: November

By | Farm, Public Service, Staff Blog, Upcoming Events


November and December have been incredibly busy and successful months. So many smart students from all of our participating schools! Seventh graders from MTM took a field trip to the Torrey Pines Reserve to learn about native habitats and plant and animal adaptations. The Canyoneers hosted the trip and their trail guides were great. Fourth graders from Chollas-Meade just finished a unit on Climate Action and Stormwater Pollution.

What amazing environmental stewards these students have become. Sixth graders from MTM concluded their unit on Water Quality & Conservation, with an interactive, vibrant four day visit from the San Diego County Office of Education’s Splash Lab. Thanks to their teachers for such a successful course.

ProKids just finished a three month curriculum on Pollinator Gardens and Environmental Conservation. EarthLab Education Director, JoAnna Proctor, received an award from ProKids, Role Model of the Year! The awards ceremony was filmed and showcased on the Golf Network.

EarthLab’s new “Sunshine Storytime” for families is a brilliant new partnership program with Malcolm X Library. Thanks to Miss Cassie for her collaboration and dedication.

Finally, EarthLab’s “Saturday Science & Service Club” is going strong, with each Saturday offering a unique set of experimental, hands-on activities for students and their families. It has been an educational and successful year thus far, and we are all looking forward to more fun and learning in 2018. Wishing all of our friends, supporters, partners, teachers, administrators, staff, students, and families a beautiful holiday season and a brilliant new year. Happy Holidays!


Groundwork & Local Partners Rid an Encanto Neighborhood of Mosquitos & Restore a Piece of Chollas Creek

By | Project Updates


Groundwork San Diego, working with local San Diego partners including City Council President Myrtle Cole, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, and a team of local consultants, has completed the construction phase of a mosquito control project in the Encanto neighborhood.  The project was designed to remove pools that had formed in Chollas Creek just north of the Lenox Drive Bridge due to deteriorated grade control structures. The County of San Diego had identified the site as a high priority treatment area, due to the potential for mosquitos to breed in the pools. The project includes removing the concrete structures, re-grading the creek channel to allow water to flow through, and planting native vegetation along the creek banks.

Photo 1: Upstream of Lenox Drive Bridge on September 26, 2017

The work is being funded by a competitive grant that was awarded to Groundwork San Diego by the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health under the Vector Habitat Remediation Program, part of the County’s Vector Control Program.  The San Diego County Vector Control Program is a countywide effort that monitors vectors and the diseases they carry. A “vector” is an animal or insect that can transmit a human disease. The Vector Control Program works to protect public health by surveying for diseases carried by vectors, responding to public requests for vector inspections, and educating the public about mosquitoes and other vectors.

Photo 2: Upstream of Lenox Drive bridge on November 29, 2017 after construction.

EarthLab Soon to be Encanto Gateway!

By | Farm

After years of collaboration with CalTrans and the City of San Diego, and the help of our community’s strong and effective voice, Groundwork is pleased to announce that the dangerous Euclid South SR 94 offramp will soon undergo a major transformation.

Current Layout:

Modeled after the Massachusetts Ave SR 94 offramp down the road, Euclid South offramp will become a cloverleaf onto Euclid Ave. At the new stop light at Euclid and the offramp, drivers will be able to safely and easily travel north or south onto Euclid.  And the very first thing drivers will see at that stoplight is our EarthLab, our ever-improving community garden and youth and family climate action center.

Approved Plan:

click to enlarge images

Alex at the EarthLab: November

By | Farm


Heeeelllllllllooooooo everyone! Alex here, checking in from EarthLab!

Not many interesting things happened at EarthLab this month but still managed to find a few things to share with you all. So, let’s jump right into it………….

I can’t quite recollect if I have shared any pictures of the many fungi that appear throughout EarthLab. But, just in case I haven’t, here are a few.

This one, I found growing on a tree trunk of a cut down tree. It had a very foamy appearance to it with a white and yellow gradient on it. I kept coming back to check on the evolution of this fungus and everyday the yellow on its edge became darker and more pronounced. After a few days the smooth transition of its gradient from white to yellow had changed. It had become a darker tone of yellow with more defined edges. It almost looked like it had a ring similar to the rings of Saturn! Unfortunately, I did not get to capture this amazing transformation of its later stage but I do have a picture of its initial look.


When the plants we have on pots at EarthLab don’t make it, we empty the soil onto a pile for later use. There has been quite a few times when we start to see plants grow from this mount of soil. Here we have some buckwheat and a few mushrooms. Check out the pretty cool looking texture on its surface!!

Moving on to some critter images. Ever heard of Peritoma arborea? What about its most common name, bladderpod? Well then, let me inform you a bit! Bladderpod is a perennial shrub. Perennial meaning that it grows and blooms over the spring and summer, and dies back every autumn and winter. This plant has a foul smelling odor from chemicals it produces to discourage insects from eating it. However, that doesn’t stop these critters from hanging around! These are known as Harlequin bugs. Not to confuse them for the Batman character Harley Quinn! Not sure what the reason is but these harmless bugs LOVE these shrubs! I guarantee you that you will find more than 30 at any given moment!



Moving on to our next critter, we have this finger nail size grasshopper. Such a cute little critter. Can’t say the same for the bigger ones. I’m just not too fond of their bigger counterpart.

Well, that’s it for today! Come check in next month for more EarthLab fun!