Water Authority to Order Water Transfer to Help Reduce Shortage

May 28, 2009

To lessen the impact of water supply reductions on the San Diego region, the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board…

To lessen the impact of water supply reductions on the San Diego region, the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today authorized the general manager to acquire up to 20,000 acre-feet of water under an existing one-year transfer agreement with the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA), in Northern California.

“This transfer will ease the region’s transition from voluntary conservation to mandatory water use restrictions by keeping our regional water savings target for the next fiscal year at a manageable level,” said Water Authority Board Chair Claude A. “Bud” Lewis. “These transfer supplies will help mitigate the impact of the water shortage on the region’s 3 million residents and $171 billion economy.”

The transfer is an important part of the Water Authority’s plan to limit cuts in deliveries to its 24 member retail water agencies to 8 percent for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1. The Water Authority will receive a 13 percent reduction in deliveries from its largest water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, in the upcoming fiscal year because of drought, low storage levels and regulatory restrictions on water supplies.

The agreement with PCWA enables the Water Authority to purchase up to 20,000 acre-feet of water for a total cost of approximately $5.5 million. The Water Authority must pay additional costs to move the water to San Diego County.

To obtain the water this year, the Water Authority must call for, or request, the water by June 1, 2009. The water will be released from a reservoir by PCWA and flow through the Bay-Delta to the Banks Pumping Plant, which pumps the water south into MWD’s delivery system. Due to regulatory restrictions on pumping to protect endangered fish species in the Bay-Delta, the water must be moved between July and September.

A number of separate agreements or regulatory approvals must be secured before the transfer can be implemented. PCWA and Water Authority staff are working with their respective partners and regulatory agencies so that water can be moved during the available window.

Short-term or dry-year transfer agreements are an integral part of the Water Authority’s Drought Management Plan. They are used during times of limited supply to offset reductions in water deliveries from traditional sources.

Lewis said while the Water Authority will continue to look for ways to augment supplies, it is vital for residents and businesses to increase conservation efforts to help manage the region’s limited water resources.

The Water Authority has declared a Level 2 “Drought Alert” condition, which enables its member retail agencies to activate mandatory water use restrictions for residents and businesses. Some agencies also are implementing tiered water rates that charge more for excessive water use. Restrictions may vary by retail agency. A list of retail water agencies and their drought ordinances is available on the Water Authority’s website at www.sdcwa.org.

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  • 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