The San Diego County Water Authority on Thursday will hold a public hearing on three related draft documents that together will provide strategic direction through 2035 for building capital projects and responding to climate change as it relates to agency activities.
The hearing is at 6 p.m. at the Water Authority’s headquarters, 4677 Overland Ave. in Kearny Mesa. It will cover the 2013 Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan Update, the Climate Action Plan and the associated environmental document.
The documents were released for public review on Nov. 22, 2013. To account for the holidays, the Water Authority extended the required 45-day period for public comment until Jan. 16. The Board of Directors is expected to consider adoption of the documents no later than March.
The plans will guide new investments in water supply reliability for the next 25 years. The central element is the master plan update, which incorporates projections for future water demands and water supplies, and identifies the facilities needed to meet those demands. The master plan envisions near- and mid-term capital projects that will address delivery constraints to local water treatment plants and surface water reservoirs.
The master plan also raises for consideration, but does not commit to, several major long-term projects that are in early feasibility stages, such as a potential seawater desalination plant at Camp Pendleton. Each concept would have to undergo additional project-specific reviews and analysis, and receive Board direction before possibly moving forward.
The 2013 master plan update recognized the Water Authority’s “new normal” of reduced water sales in the region and a greater emphasis on water conservation and local water supply development. It recommends deferral of two previously planned projects, which would reduce the anticipated capital improvement costs for fiscal years 2014 through 2025 by $653 million. Water Authority analysis now shows that the two projects – a new pipeline to bring water into the county and a new “crossover” pipeline to alleviate potential constraints in the delivery system – won’t be needed before 2030.
In conjunction with the master plan update, the Water Authority released its first Climate Action Plan, a voluntary strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. Water Authority projections show that under a business-as-usual approach, the agency will achieve the targeted 15 percent reductions because of emissions offsets it receives for pumped storage power generated at Lake Hodges since 2012. In addition, projects in the master plan will incorporate energy-efficient designs, and the Water Authority is investigating additional ways to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through expansion of renewable energy sources such as hydropower, both in-line and pumped storage.
The final element of the Water Authority’s document package under public review is a Supplemental Program Environmental Impact Report that addresses both the Climate Action Plan and the 2013 master plan update. The environmental report covers potential and cumulative impacts from completing new projects and is a supplement to the 2003 Program EIR. At a program level, the report finds no significant impacts from implementing new projects detailed in the master plan update and the Climate Action Plan.
For details about the master plan and related documents, go to www.sdcwa.org/regional-water-facilities-master-plan-documents-public-comment.