Analysis Shows Sufficient Water Supplies for San Diego Region Using New State Formula
June 09, 2016
The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have sufficient water supplies to meet demands even during three…
The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have sufficient water supplies to meet demands even during three additional dry years and won’t be subject to state-mandated water-use reductions through January 2017, according to initial calculations shared with the Board of Directors today. Regional supply sufficiency results from 25 years of strategic investments, including Colorado River water conservation-and-transfer agreements, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant and local water development projects such as water recycling facilities.
Based on the projections, the Board voted unanimously during today’s special meeting to take a regional approach to the state’s recently approved process for certifying supply sufficiency for the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies and establishing a new long-term drought awareness initiative.
“This is a significant accomplishment for the San Diego region,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board. “We have invested in new sources of supply while improving our infrastructure to handle multi-year droughts, and our initial data confirms the region’s continued ability to meet demands even with the conservative assumptions required by the state.
“I’m grateful to the State Water Board for adopting a drought-response regulation that not only rewards regions such as San Diego that have invested in drought-resilient water supplies, but also encourages more investments in drought resiliency statewide.”
Weston also thanked the region’s residents and businesses who reduced water use by 21 percent since June 2015 in response to emergency state mandates, beating the state’s aggregate regional target of 13 percent. Conserved water has been stored locally for future use in case drought conditions worsen or an earthquake or other disaster interrupts imported water deliveries.
“Whether it’s drought or wildfires or some other emergency, our region always rises to the challenge,” Weston said. “It’s something we should be proud of as we continue to look for ways to become more efficient with our most precious natural resource.”
As the Water Authority finalizes the state’s self-sufficiency certification process, it’s also developing a new campaign that promotes long-term water-use efficiency to begin this summer. The Water Authority is an industry leader in water-use efficiency efforts, with resources such as award-winning, water-efficient landscaping classes for homeowners; a video version of the classes to increase public access; a water waste reporting app for smartphones; free water-use checkups for residents and businesses; and incentive programs. Details are at WaterSmartSD.org.
“Five years of drought have made it clear that we must keep our focus on discretionary outdoor water use by embracing low-water plants and high-efficiency irrigation,” said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the Water Authority. “Yard by yard, WaterSmart landscapes are becoming the norm in San Diego County, and we are committed to continuing this transformation through classes, technical assistance and other efforts.”
The Water Authority also will continue to raise awareness about wasteful water practices prohibited statewide, such as irrigating lawns so as to cause runoff or within 48 hours after measurable rain.
While most of California remains in drought, significant rain and snow last winter helped refill major reservoirs in Northern California and boost projected deliveries from the State Water Project to 60 percent, the highest since 2012. That prompted the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to end its supply allocations in May 2016, setting the stage for the Water Authority Board to end allocations to its member agencies the same month.
Also in May, the State Water Board replaced state-mandated conservation targets with a supply-based approach that considers each agency’s specific situation and water supplies – an approach the Water Authority and others sought for more than a year. The State Water Board also approved allowing wholesalers such as the Water Authority to certify supply sufficiency for their regions if every retail agency they service agrees. Self-certification data is due to the state June 22, and the conservation standards under the new state approach will be retroactive to the start of June.