Drought Conditions End as Focus Shifts to Long-Term Water Use
June 05, 2018
Gov. Brown on April 7 formally ended the drought emergency for most of California due to record-setting precipitation during the past winter, following a resolution by the Water Authority’s Board of Directors in January to declare an end to drought conditions for San Diego County. The Water Authority applauded the governor’s decision because it’s critical for water agencies and regulators to maintain credibility with the public by acknowledging the dramatic improvement in water supplies.
Even with the drought over, the Water Authority will continue to offer resources that promote water efficiency as a positive and permanent lifestyle.
Go to WaterSmartSD.org for details.
The San Diego region’s water supply reliability is stronger now than when the drought began due to the efforts of San Diego County water ratepayers. They invested more than $3.5 billion over the past three decades to improve the region’s drought resilience – for instance, with new water storage capacity and new locally controlled, drought-proof water supplies from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The county’s residents and businesses also beat the state’s emergency water-use reduction mandates during 2015 and 2016, and they continue to use less water than they did in 2013 even though drought conditions have ended.
This balanced approach – water-use efficiency combined with supply investments – served the San Diego region well during the drought, and it should be part of any statewide drought-management efforts in the future.
On April 7, the governor also released his long-term water-use framework, which will have far-reaching impacts on how much water residents and businesses can use in the future. The Water Authority is reviewing the framework and implementing legislation carefully to assess whether they support a balanced approach that includes supply development and water-use efficiency.
The state’s draft framework issued in November contained some important goals – but also some proposals that could harm the regional and state economy. The Water Authority, in conjunction with similar efforts across California, filed formal comments on the state’s proposed framework in December, in hopes of averting measures that would create unintended negative consequences. That letter encouraged state agencies to support investments in drought-resilient supplies, because investments in drought-resilient supplies are an important complement to efficiency that enhance the state’s ability to prepare for and manage extended dry periods.