Region’s Long-Term Water Management Strategy Released for Public Review

April 29, 2016

The development of drought-resilient water resources and a sustained emphasis on water-use efficiency mean that San Diego County will continue to have a safe and reliable water supply for decades, according to the San Diego County Water Authority’s draft 2015 Urban Water Management Plan.

The draft plan – known as the 2015 UWMP based on when the updating process began – was released today for public review, starting a public comment period that will include a public hearing on May 26 during the regular meeting of the Water Authority Board of Directors. The Board will consider adoption of the plan during its regular meeting on June 23.

Urban Water Management Plans are important tools for reporting water agencies’ long-term planning efforts to meet future demands and tracking progress toward achieving state-mandated water conservation targets. They also support state laws linking approval for large developments to water supply availability. By law, the plans must be updated every five years.

The Water Authority’s draft 2015 UWMP estimates that future water demands will be about 14 percent lower in 2020 and about 15 percent lower in 2035 compared to projections in the 2010 plan. The reduction is due to changes in demographic and economic projections by SANDAG that were primarily driven by the Great Recession and long-term improvements in water-use efficiency by residents and businesses. To meet projected demands, the Water Authority anticipates continued development of highly reliable, locally controlled water supplies such as new recycling and groundwater recovery projects.

“We enjoy a safe and reliable water supply even during the current drought because earlier generations crafted long-term plans and carried them out,” said Bob Yamada, director of water resources for the Water Authority. “As we look into the future, we remain very confident about the ability of the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to support our vibrant region through a combination of locally controlled, drought-proof supplies and making the most of every drop.”

The Water Authority developed its draft 2015 UWMP in coordination with its 24 member agencies, most of which must submit similar plans to the state. Main components of the Water Authority’s plan include: baseline demand forecasts under normal weather, dry weather and climate change scenarios; conservation savings estimates and net water demand projections; a water supply assessment; supply reliability analysis; and scenario planning.

The baseline demand forecast accounts for changes in socio-economic factors, such as the number of projected housing units, the mix of single-family and multi-family dwellings, and employment growth. Conservation projections account for continued adoption of water-use efficiency measures, compliance with landscape water-use ordinances for new residential construction, and continued installations of sustainable landscapes at existing homes.

On the supply side, the Water Authority – working with its member agencies – compiled local supply estimates and grouped them into “verifiable,” “additional planned,” and “conceptual” projects based on where they are in the planning process. Normal-year projections based on verifiable projects show that the Water Authority will buy approximately 165,000 acre-feet of water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in 2025, down from 613,287 acre-feet in 1990. The projected decline is due to the Water Authority’s long-term strategy of using drought-resilient, locally controlled supplies such as the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant to replace less-reliable supplies from MWD.

In addition to the Urban Water Management Plan, the Water Authority also regularly updates its Regional Water Facilities Optimization and Master Plan, which focuses on the infrastructure necessary to meet projected long-term water demands.  For more information about the Water Authority’s water supply and demand planning efforts, including a copy of the draft 2015 Urban Water Management Plan, go to

  • 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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