On Monday, November 7th, honored and celebrated the by renaming our .
’s recycled water program and began as a vision and innovation of Ray Stoyer, the first appointed General Manager of the Santee County Water District (later renamed Padre Dam). In 1959, faced with the challenge of what to do with Santee wastewater, Stoyer came up with the idea to clean the town’s sewage and turn it into recreational lakes. Although commonplace today, in 1959 the idea of using reclaimed water from sewage was a new and controversial idea. In 1961, approval was received from the Department of Health to open Lake 4 at Santee Lakes to recreational boating and picnicking.
Santee Lakes now attracts over 650,000 visitors a year and offers camping, fishing, picnicking, hiking, boating, special events, bird watching and other recreation in a natural environment. Santee Lakes celebrates 50 years, in 2011, of community recreation and continues to plan and flourish through a dynamic past and thrive into the future with new projects each year.
The water reclamation project has received global recognition as an example of how to use recycled water for recreational use. In April 1962, with Stoyer’s help a memorandum of understanding was signed by the U.S. Public Health Service, the California Department of Public Health, the Santee County Water District (now Padre Dam MWD), and three other state and county agencies, all of whom agreed to work together on the Santee reclamation research project. The project also received federal research funding, recognition of interest from President John F. Kennedy and a visit from President Lyndon Johnson’s water board.
The Santee City Council also proclaimed Nov. 7 to be "Ray Stoyer Day" in Santee.