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Clear Lake
Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive

Courtesy Dustin Fuller
Source: FuscoeEngineering 2018.  Courtesy Dustin Fuller

Dustin Fuller, Supervising Environmental Planner at the 22nd District Agricultural Association, has been introducing interested parties to an elaborate water quality treatment system at the Fairgrounds, specifically the Racetrack, Stables and related animal areas, that will go into effect in 2021. He led a tour for the Project Review Committee of the San Dieguito River Park in late August and another for the City of Del Mar Lagoon Committee in mid-October.

There are two lakes in the infield of the track that are being redesigned to collect and treat all water that has come into contact with horses and other animals associated with other events throughout the year. Rain-gutters on stables and barns will divert uncontaminated roof water runoff through a dedicated storm drain system away from the water quality treatment system as this water does not come into contact with animals.  Beyond water quality improvement (purification) the lakes will also serve as flood control during extreme rain events. The East Lake has a lining which isolates it from groundwater. It currently contains 6 million gallons but with an average depth of 4 feet and the ability to hold significantly more runoff during large storm events. The East Lake will serve as the receiving lake to collect runoff associated with animal activity areas.  Through an underground connection, runoff will be channeled into the West Lake (Constructed Wetland) through several sorts of artificial wetlands, including “vertical wetlands” (mini-cascades) and a meander in which the rate of flow can be controlled. After the second racing season is concluded the West Lake will also be lined similar to the East Lake and converted into the elaborate artificial wetland.  The primary treatment focus for the constructed wetlands is to reduce metals (copper and zinc) and nutrients (phosphorous and nitrogen).

From the West Lake water will be piped to a newly constructed Water Treatment Plant further to the west.  The primary treatment focus of the treatment plant is to reduce fine sediments and treat the runoff with ultra violet light to remove bacteria.  The treatment plant will also include continuous water testing sensors for a variety of chemical substances which eventually may be monitored remotely, from another site.

Any water that does not meet strict water quality standards will be circulated back to the East Lake to begin the process again. In the future water of sufficient quality may be used for irrigation., although this would have to be approved by regulatory agencies. Currently the Fairgrounds has a contract to buy water of that quality from the San Elijo JPA. If too much runoff accumulates in the system, the treated runoff can be released into Stevens Creek under a discharge permit issued by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Standards for water quality are governed by CAFO regulations, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Dustin Fuller estimated that the Summer Race Meet brings in over 2300 horses of which a large proportion are washed down daily during racing season.  The overall treatment concept and system was developed by a local civil engineer who specializes in CAFO designs and equestrian facility water quality designs statewide. The treatment plant system was developed by an engineer who did similar work for Sea World. The cost of the entire project by the time it is finished will be over $12 million.




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