Water Authority Begins Update of Region’s Long-Term Water Management Strategy

Short Title
Water Authority Begins Update of Long-Term Water Strategy
The Urban Water Management Plan balances supplies and demands over two decades
August 27, 2015

The San Diego County Water Authority is launching the 2015 update of its Urban Water Management Plan, which includes a forecast of water demands and a detailed evaluation of the supplies necessary to meet those demands over at least two decades for both normal and dry conditions.

Urban Water Management Plans are important tools for reporting progress on long-term, state-mandated conservation targets, and they are frequently used by state agencies and the public to determine if water agencies are planning appropriately to meet future demands. By law, the plans must be updated every five years.

“While we are responding on a daily basis to unprecedented drought conditions, it’s critical that we also maintain our focus on the long-term needs of this region to ensure that we have secure water supplies for our children and grandchildren,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “This planning process is a critical part of that effort and a great opportunity for the public to learn more about what it takes to maintain a safe and reliable water supply in the context of a changing climate.”

On Thursday, the Board was apprised of the schedule for completing the 2015 Urban Water Management Plan by next June. Development of the plan will include a public review period, likely in early 2016, along with a formal public hearing at a Water Authority Board meeting later in the year.

The Water Authority’s 2015 plan will have six main components:

  • Baseline demand forecast – Using the official growth forecast of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the Water Authority will project demands. This process accounts for the influence of factors such as water rate increases, economic factors and climate change.
  • Conservation savings and water demand projections – Based on conservation trends, state mandates and other factors, the Water Authority will predict water savings and demands.
  • Water supplies – Future supplies are categorized as “verifiable,” “additional planned” or “conceptual” based on how certain they are to be in place.
  • Supply reliability assessment – By looking at projected demands during normal and dry periods, the Water Authority will identify a mix of necessary water resources.
  • Scenario planning – This process will identify potential risks associated with the project resource mix along with strategies to address uncertainties.
  • Shortage contingency analysis – The final major element is a discussion of drought-response measures and the Water Authority’s strategy for mitigating potential supply shortages.

The Water Authority has convened a workgroup comprising staff from the Water Authority and member agencies to ensure that the 2015 Urban Water Management Plan aligns with projections by local agencies and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

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 demand projections.  For more information about the Water Authority’s water supply and demand planning efforts, go to www.sdcwa.org/futureplanning.