When historians look back on California in 2016, they will undoubtedly focus on a crisis created by the most significant, far-reaching drought in modern times. When they look at San Diego County, they will see a different story – how the region’s visionary water agencies prepared ahead for drought conditions and even stored 100,000 acre-feet of water in a newly expanded reservoir.
That accomplishment marked a sea change in long-term water supply reliability for the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, in stark contrast to the region’s misfortunes during the drought of 1987-92. At that time, San Diego County had almost no local water resources and paid the price when imported supplies were drastically cut.
|Click here to explore the region’s water supply success story during Fiscal Year 2016 in the new online Annual Report.|
In December 2015, the beginning of commercial operations at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant illustrated how far the region has come. It is the largest seawater desalination plant in the nation, providing a drought-proof water supply of approximately 50 million gallons per day that immediately benefitted the region by reducing – and ultimately helping to eliminate – state mandates for emergency water conservation. At the same time, the Water Authority successfully advocated for the state to implement balanced drought-response policies that reward ratepayer investments in supply reliability.
The Water Authority’s leadership extended into other areas as well: Prudent financial strategies produced the first AAA bond rating in agency history; the Board of Directors adopted a Long-Range Financing Plan and an updated long-range Urban Water Management Plan; and the Water Authority secured a victory in the final judgment in its 2010 and 2012 rate cases against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which aim to recoup for the region’s ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal overcharges by MWD.
Even with unprecedented challenges, 2016 was a year to celebrate – a year when the Water Authority’s commitment to leadership and innovation helped the agency navigate uncharted waters on behalf of 3.3 million residents and our $222 billion economy.
Those achievements and others have been captured in the innovative FY2016 Annual Report, which is online at sdcwa.org/annualreport/2016. The report is fully interactive, with videos, charts, documents and photos that tell the story of a historic year.