San Diego County making good progress diversifying water supply
Posted by George J Janczyn on February 11, 2011
“Our strategies are working” was the message from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) Water Planning Committee at a joint meeting with the SANDAG Regional Planning Committee held Friday at 1pm at the SDCWA headquarters on Overland Avenue.
The severe drought experienced in California in the 1990-91 years was a wake-up call for San Diego County, which at the time relied on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for 95% of the county’s water supply — delivered from Northern California and the Colorado River. News headlines from those days delivered numerous grim messages about the effect water shortages were having on the local economy and way of life.
The response, explained Ken Weinberg, Water Authority Director of Water Resources, was to develop a strategy to improve water supply reliability and reduce San Diego’s dependence on imported water.
Developing new supplies would not be cheap compared to what had been spent previously, said Maureen Stapleton, SDCWA General Manager, but the drought made San Diego realize how vulnerable it was and that it could not afford the consequences of a catastrophic cutoff from future drought or when the California Delta breaks (I noticed Stapleton said when, not if).
Facing growth, regulatory restrictions, the possibility of future droughts, climate change, and increased costs, the county’s strategy for supply reliability was to develop a forecast of demand, encourage water use efficiency, invest in regional infrastructure, and diversify supply sources.
SDCWA coordinated with SANDAG to obtain a wealth of information and planning expertise on growth forecasts and the regional comprehensive plan.
That planning effort led to the development of new supplies as well as infrastructure investments.
For new water supplies, encouraging a water conservation ethic became a high priority. Negotiations to purchase water conserved by Imperial Valley farmers were concluded. Water recycling programs and brackish groundwater projects were implemented. Seawater desalination (Poseidon in Carlsbad) and the City of San Diego’s Indirect Potable Reuse demonstration project are more recent developments.
As for infrastructure, SDCWA created a $3.8 billion Capital Improvement Program to implement an Emergency Storage Project that would bring new surface storage (Olivenhain Dam, Lake Hodges, San Vicente Dam Raise), water treatment (Twin Oaks Water Treatment Plant), as well as pipelines, pump stations, and hyroelectric generation from water gravity flows within the system, among other things.
This SDCWA chart graphically depicts the progress that has been made towards the goal for 2020:
The meeting ended with the conclusion that the strategies to reduce reliance on MWD through sustained conservation, new supply sources, and infrastructure development have been working. The plan is to continue implementation of these strategies and to pursue further local supply sources.
See also this North County Times story that highlighted other topics that came up at the meeting — including reduced demand by aging citizens.
This entry was posted on February 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm and is filed under San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), Water. Tagged: San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.