Region’s Success Saving Water Continues with Sharp Reduction in April Use
May 23, 2016
Preliminary data released by the San Diego County Water Authority show that the San Diego region continues to beat the state’s aggregate water savings target, reducing cumulative potable water use 21 percent from June 2015 through April 2016. The savings (compared to 2013) were bolstered by a 23 percent reduction in water use in April, the county’s highest savings rate since September.
Under the state’s current regulation, the region’s aggregate cumulative water-savings target is 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.
The State Water Resources Control Board on May 18 decided to continue its existing water-use regulation through May, after which state-mandated conservation targets will be replaced with a supply-based approach that considers each agency’s specific circumstances and available water supplies. The San Diego County Water Authority and others have sought this approach for more than a year to help support communities that have invested in drought-resilient supplies. The new regulation, in effect through January 2017, requires individual urban water agencies – or a region as a whole, if each of that region’s urban water agencies agree – to self-certify their levels of available water supplies based on three additional dry years and the level of conservation necessary to assure adequate supply assuming a third consecutive dry year.
“The region proved again in April that it hasn’t forgotten its duty to conserve our precious water resources,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Residents and businesses continued to do more than what was required, saving more water even as mandates were loosened. This mindset to not waste water is still needed this summer. We must continue to use water efficiently during the peak water-use months.”
Water-use efficiency is a civic duty and a way of life in San Diego County, exemplified by the nearly 40 percent drop in per capita potable water-use since 1990.
Beginning in June, the State Water Board’s regulation will allow communities to tailor drought responses to the unique situation in each service area across the diverse state. This revision followed assessments of water supply conditions, which this year were boosted by El Niño weather patterns through winter and spring that produced significant rain and snow in Northern California.
The Water Authority is working with its member agencies to assess water supplies and demands per the state’s new formula. While it’s too early to predict the outcome, San Diego County will benefit from regional and local water supply investments such as water from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, independent conservation-and-transfer agreements for Colorado River water, and local water development projects such as water recycling facilities. The Water Authority’s Board is expected to consider updated drought-response actions at its regular meeting on May 26 based on the State Board’s revision to its emergency conservation regulation.
More information about the new state regulation is at www.sdcwa.org/state-board-regulations. For information about conservation programs, as well as water-use rules by community and drought conditions, go to whenindrought.org.