Region Ramps Up Water Savings as 12-Month Average of 22 Percent Far Exceeds Goal

June 16, 2016

Preliminary data released by the San Diego County Water Authority show that from June 2015 through May 2016, the San…

Preliminary data released by the San Diego County Water Authority show that from June 2015 through May 2016, the San Diego region reduced its potable water use 22 percent compared to the same months in 2013, significantly surpassing the state’s aggregate water-savings target for local water suppliers through a year of state-mandated cutbacks.

Despite eased restrictions in place since March, aggregate water use in the region dropped sharply during April and May, which are expected to be the final two months for the region’s water suppliers to meet state-mandated savings targets. Compared to 2013, the baseline used in the state’s water-use regulation, the region used 26 percent less potable water in May. This follows a 23 percent reduction in April.

“The past 12 months add to an impressive success story for this region, which clearly understands the need to be efficient in using our most precious natural resource,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It’s no surprise that San Diego-area residents and businesses stepped up again, exceeding expectations and building upon what was already a nearly 40 percent decline in per capita potable water use since 1990.”

From March through May, the region’s aggregate cumulative water-savings target was 13 percent – down from 20 percent between June 2015 and February 2016 due to credits for drought-resilient water supplies from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The plant produces up to 56,000 acre-feet per year, enough to serve roughly 400,000 residents annually.

The Water Authority is working to finalize by June 22 a regional supply sufficiency certification, in response to the state’s announcement of a new process to allow water suppliers to self-certify sufficient water supplies. This regional approach was unanimously agreed to by the Water Authority Board at its special June 9 meeting. The certification will show that the Water Authority and its member agencies have sufficient water supplies to meet demands even during three additional dry years.

Under the state’s new formula for determining water-use reduction targets, which the State Water Resources Control Board adopted on May 18 following a state assessment of water-supply conditions, the San Diego region won’t be subject to state-mandated water-use reductions from June through January 2017.

The San Diego County Water Authority and others had sought this supply-based approach, which considers each agency’s specific circumstances and available water supplies, for more than a year to help support communities that have invested in drought-resilient supplies. The process allows individual water agencies, or groups of agencies in agreement of a regional approach, to self-certify that their levels of available water supplies and conservation are sufficient to meet demands through three additional dry years.

More information about the region’s supply sufficiency calculation is at

Supply sufficiency in the San Diego region results from 25 years of strategic investments, including Colorado River water conservation-and-transfer agreements, the Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant and local water development projects such as water recycling facilities.

Water-use efficiency is a civic duty and a way of life in San Diego County. 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

  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

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    Grace Sevilla

    Phone: (619) 855-5135