San Diego County’s Water Supply Outlook Brightens for 2012

December 08, 2011

The San Diego region’s water supply outlook for 2012 is much better than it was a year ago, but residents…

The San Diego region’s water supply outlook for 2012 is much better than it was a year ago, but residents and businesses should still make efficient water use a part of daily life, the San Diego County Water Authority reported today.

The Water Authority Board of Directors received a report on water supply and demand conditions at its monthly meeting. Staff attributed the improved supply conditions to several factors.  They included a very wet winter in 2010/2011 that led to substantial improvements in reservoir levels locally, statewide and on the Colorado River.  In addition, regional water use has remained well below pre-drought levels in 2011, enabling water agencies to better manage available supplies.

“Mother Nature and continuing wise water use by our residents, businesses and agricultural customers has helped lead to our best water supply situation in several years,” said Water Authority Board Chair Michael T. Hogan.  “I commend our water customers for continuing to use water wisely, even after shortage-related mandatory water use restrictions were lifted this spring.  However, it will be important for all of us to continue to use water wisely as a part of everyday life.  We are still at the end of a long water supply pipeline, and a return to dry conditions or ongoing regulatory challenges in the Bay-Delta can threaten our supplies again.”

Water storage on the Colorado River, where San Diego County gets more than half of its water supply, has increased 5.7 million acre-feet this year.  (An acre-foot is 325,900 gallons, enough to supply two average single-family households of four for a year.)  Meanwhile, key State Water Project reservoirs in Northern California, the source for about 20 percent of the region’s water supply, added nearly 2 million acre-feet of storage in 2011 and are well above their average levels for this time of year.

Storage levels in Southern California have improved significantly as well.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Water Authority’s largest imported water supplier, projects its storage reserves (which include facilities inside and outside of Southern California) will hit a historic high of 2.4 million acre-feet at the end of 2011.  In San Diego County, local reservoir storage rose to approximately 342,800 acre-feet in November, a 19 percent increase compared to a year ago. 

Water use in the region from January through October 2011 has increased only about two percent compared to the same period a year ago.  Regional water use has stayed basically flat since mandatory water use restrictions ended in late April, increasing only about one percent from May through October 2011 compared to the same six-month period in 2010.

The full water supply outlook report is available online at  (Water Planning Committee, page 139).

  • 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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