2021 Annual Report
Regional Collaboration Sustains Economy, Quality of Life
Board Officers' Letter
Despite complex and challenging circumstances throughout Fiscal Year 2021, the Water Authority maintained focus on its highest goal: working with and for its member agencies to ensure continued delivery of reliable water supplies and continued efforts to maintain those supplies for the long-term.
As statewide drought conditions worsened in summer 2021, the Water Authority reassured the region that it was protected from drought impacts for multiple dry years due to three decades of strategic investments and efficiency upgrades. With significant local and national media interest in water issues, the Water Authority refocused its outreach on how water supply investments provide security for the region, while encouraging residents to "Stay WaterSmart."
Several large-scale infrastructure improvements concluded in Fiscal Year 2021, including a major rehabilitation of the First Aqueduct in North San Diego County and the installation of new fish-friendly seawater intake pumps for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The Mission Trails Flow Regulatory Structure II reached 50% completion, and the Water Authority advanced several other projects to ensure continued reliability. In addition, the newly updated Urban Water Management Plan showed reliable supplies through at least 2045.
After years of advocacy for the San Diego region, the Water Authority was awarded $44.4 million for two rate cases, and the Board of Directors voted to return the funds to its member agencies. Meanwhile, new Metropolitan Water District General Manager Adel Hagekhalil joined with the Water Authority to promote a theme of collaboration on behalf of the region’s water ratepayers and agencies. The Water Authority’s Board also approved a new Permanent Special Agricultural Water Rate structure to strengthen the region’s multibillion-dollar agricultural industry.
Strategic partnerships bolstered the region’s water and energy reliability despite trying circumstances. The Water Authority expanded its partnership with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management statewide, while water agencies throughout the region worked together to stabilize the state’s power grid during a record-setting heatwave. At the same time, the Water Authority fostered a regional strategy to cultivate interest in water industry jobs and new elementary educational programs for a remote-learning environment.
Despite the continued challenges of the pandemic and new challenges of the drought, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors adopted a two-year budget with a 0% change from the previous budget, while controlling water rates and planning for long-term infrastructure improvements. The Water Authority also advanced initiatives to help employees create financial wellness, improve cybersecurity in the agency’s IT network, and continue keeping employees safe from COVID-19.