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Environmental Advocacy
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Recycling, Solar Power,
River Restoration

The Del Mar Fairgrounds is dedicated to the environment in which we live and work. The 22nd District Agricultural Association's mission statement confirms our emphasis on managing the facility in an environmentally conscientious manner, and our long-term lessees, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Premier Food Services, work with us to reduce our waste on a year-round basis. For a list of our Environmental Issues and reports, see our Environmental Issues page.

Recycling, Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency Efforts

The 22nd DAA Board of Directors, which governs the Del Mar Fairgrounds, adopted a Resource Conservation Program in 1990 which in part banned the use of polystyrene foam products from use by food vendors on the grounds. In 2007, the Board adopted an "Environmentally Preferable Purchases and Practices Policy" which includes the commitment to buy recycled content products and instructed staff to work toward a goal of "Zero Waste."

The 22nd DAA began an office paper recycling program in 1985. Over the years the recycling program has grown to 28 materials diverted from the landfill annually. In 2014 the Fairgrounds participated in the communities' Alternative Daily Cover (ADC) Program, and recycled or sent to compost 92-percent of the solid waste stream with the help of management, staff, contractors, lessees and guests. This puts the Fairgrounds well above the waste reduction requirements of AB 75 that requires State Agencies to divert 75-percent of their solid waste by the year 2020. The recycling program saved $1.2 million in 2014 alone, of which $797,564 is contributed by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's conservation efforts. Another major contributor in this program is Premier Food Service, the Fairgrounds' year-round food and beverage company. It is truly a team effort.

The 22nd DAA partnered with Solana Center of Encinitas in 2010 to help the Fairgrounds better maintain the VermiTech vermicomposting bin in the Infield on a year-round basis. In the bin, worms eat pre-consumer fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchens and help reduce trash to the landfill. When the worms need thinning out, they will be used by Solana Center for their vermicomposting educational programs. It's a win-win partnership!

Among its environmental activities and accomplishments, the 22nd DAA:

  • purchased property west of the Fairgrounds in 1988 to support and protect the wetlands habitat at the mouth of the San Dieguito River.
  • is in the process of reestablishing a part of its most southern dirt lot area along the San Dieguito River's edge for wetlands restoration and natural habitat restoration. This is being done in partnership with the San Dieguito River Park (see information below).
  • has reduced the use of potable water by the use of reclaimed water; more than 75 acre-feet annually.
  • has reduced its impact on local sewer systems by keeping food out of sinks and completely removing garbage disposals, saving $45,000 annually.
  • has reduced average energy consumption by 5.2-percent in 2009 by implementing a lighting retrofit project and a variety of other contributing factors, some of which are as simple as staff being continually reminded of the importance of turning off unnecessary lights.
  • is working to replace its aging facilities with LEED Green Building energy-efficiency goals in mind.
  • replaced the dirt racetrack (in partnership with the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club) with a Polytrack synthetic surface in January 2007, to help reduce injuries to horses and riders at a cost of nearly $8.5 million. The surface consists of waxed sand, carpet fiber and recycled ground tires. It was a great contributor to water savings of millions of gallons of water during the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Race Meet. In 2009 the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club converted the reverse osmosis unit from treating potable water to treating reclaimed for use on the Polytrack. Numerous other programs resulted in an approximate savings of 24.5 million gallons of water total over the last four years.
  • refurbished its miniature golf facility at the Del Mar Golf Center with an environmental theme. At Pelly's Mini Golf, the courses were designed in cooperation with the Surfrider Foundation and Birch Aquarium at Scripps to not only entertain, but also educate participants about one of our most precious resources, the ocean.
  • created the annual Enviro Fair, held in the San Diego County Fair's Flower Show Area. This great exhibition highlights such things as environmental challenges, conservation and recycling, pollution prevention, environmentally friendly products, and business and consumer conservation services available in San Diego County.
  • has won 29 awards for its Resource Conservation Program. These include the National Recycling Coalition's Tim McClure Award for Outstanding Environmental & Community Leadership, California Resource Recovery Association's Award for "Outstanding Zero Waste Achievement" and most recently the Western Fair Association's coveted Merrill Award.

The 22nd DAA staff sees the Resource Conservation Program as one that will continue to evolve as new technologies develop.

We appreciate our visitors' efforts to help us reduce the waste going to landfills by recycling clean paper, cans and bottles in the recycling containers provided throughout the Fairgrounds. Please feel free to bring your own reusable bag to shop with, too.

For more information contact Nancy Strauss, Resource Conservation Coordinator, (858) 792-4298.

Solar Powered

In 2003 the Fairgrounds embarked on a solar-power program to reduce its dependence on traditional sources of energy.

The Fairgrounds has a one-megawatt system, with 9,700 individual panels installed on the roofs of 11 barns. The estimated cost of the system and installation was $4.8 million.

The one-megawatt system produces around 1.2 million kWh per year (14.29-percent of our total usage not including Horsepark or Surf N Turf) and saves the Fairgrounds an estimated $171,460. By comparison, the average consumption allowed for a home in San Diego is 6,000 KWh per year. Our system could supply 200 homes all their power needs for one year.

River Valley Restoration

The Fairgrounds sits at the mouth of the San Dieguito River, which stretches more than 50 miles from its source near Julian. Along the river is the San Dieguito River Park, of which the main feature is the creation of a 55-mile hiking trail called the Coast to Crest Trail.

The trail begins on Fairgrounds property south of Jimmy Durante Boulevard. The Del Mar Fairgrounds is also working with the San Dieguito River Park to continue the trail through the Horsepark property as well. The Coast to Crest Trail is the jewel of San Diego County for hikers of all ages and the Del Mar Fairgrounds is proud to be involved with this project.

The Fairgrounds assisted the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy by restoring 1.15 acres along the north side of the San Dieguito River. The project goal was to eliminate and replace all non-native plants with native species. Volunteers carried out most of the work, with assistance from the Fairgrounds for heavy equipment needs. In addition, the Fairgrounds is diligently working with resource agencies on plans to restore approximately three acres of salt marsh in the area adjacent to the SDRVC's restoration. The Fairgrounds anticipates beginning the restoration work sometime in 2011.

For more information on the project, please see the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy Web site, www.sdrvc.org, or the San Dieguito River Park Web site, www.sdrp.org/trails.htm.

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