Water Authority Delivers Emergency Water Supply to Tijuana

January 17, 2023

Agency accelerates water deliveries to avoid new supply shortages south of border

Fast action by the San Diego County Water Authority and its partners is helping maintain water service in Tijuana after problems with the city’s aqueduct emerged in December.

Emergency water deliveries started last week after a coordinated effort between the Water Authority, Otay Water District, and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The typical multi-month approval process was compressed into a few days to avoid additional water supply shortages in Tijuana.

“We’re extremely proud of how quickly the Water Authority staff worked to meet the emergency water needs of our neighbors to the south,” said Mel Katz, Water Authority Board Chair. “Coordinating with multiple agencies and getting the necessary approvals in just three days was a team effort and is a credit to the Water Resources and Operations & Maintenance departments.”

Cross-border emergency deliveries started more than 50 years ago and are governed by an agreement between the United States and Mexico to provide Tijuana with a portion of Mexico’s Colorado River supply. The Water Authority provides emergency water deliveries to Mexico through a cross-border connection in Otay Mesa. These deliveries use Water Authority, Otay Water District, and MWD facilities to transport the emergency supplies from the Colorado River to Mexico, which pays transportation costs on deliveries to Tijuana and provides funds for meter connection upkeep. Deliveries are typically planned months in advance due to the number of government agencies involved.

On January 2, the Water Authority received a request for emergency water delivery to Tijuana. Water Authority staff immediately expedited the complex approval process during this unplanned Tijuana aqueduct outage. Those steps included working with the U.S. International Boundary & Water Commission, Otay Water District, and MWD to confirm system capacity availability and establish costs associated with the additional emergency deliveries. 

The current water deliveries are scheduled to continue until the end of February. Consistent with the previously approved schedule, planned water deliveries will restart in April and continue through September 2023.

  • 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.

    Media Contact Information

    Grace Sevilla

    Phone: (619) 855-5135

    Email: GSevilla@sdcwa.org