Regional Water Authority Secures San Diego Water Supply Through 2017 And Beyond
San Diego County Water Authority officials announced that the SD region will have sufficient water supply through 2017 and beyond, even if conditions remain dry. This good news was attributed to both investment in the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, an alternative water resource that produces 50 million gallons of potable water/day—10% of the region’s water supply, and conservation-and-transfer contracts negotiated by the SDCWA for high-priority water from the Colorado River. Officials said continued water-use efficiency remains essential to help manage those supplies amid an uncertain outlook for rain and snow this winter.
San Diego water resources allowed the authority to pass the state’s stringent water reliability stress test, which requires water agencies to demonstrate they have adequate water supplies to meet demands even if they experience three additional dry years, the SDCWA reports. Regional water savings had remained strong during the summer. From June through August, urban potable water use in San Diego County was 18% below the same period in 2013, even though state-mandated emergency water-use reductions were lifted in June and average daily maximum temperatures were two degrees above normal.
Since May 2015, SDCWA has stored 100,000 acre-feet of conserved water at the recently enlarged San Vicente Reservoir as part of its Emergency and Carryover Storage Project to set aside supplies in case emergencies arise or dry weather continues. An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, enough to serve two families of four for a year.
“The San Diego region has a track record of smart investments in supply reliability and water-use efficiency that have proven their worth during five years of drought,” said SDCWA board chairman Mark Muir at a press briefing last week. “In addition, the commitment our region’s residents and businesses continue to show for saving water is remarkable. The goal going forward is to maintain the momentum and to ‘Live WaterSmart’ by eliminating leaks, adopting WaterSmart landscapes and continuing to embrace other water-efficient practices that are becoming the norm." WaterSmart is the agency's water conservation campaign.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography postdoctoral fellow Amanda Sheffield, who also spoke at the press event, said the potential for a La Niña weather pattern to form this fall in the Pacific Ocean makes forecasting snowpack and runoff levels in major watersheds, including the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, unpredictable. Water managers commonly use water years to track rain and snow that collects for use the following spring and summer. She also said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted warmer-than-average temperatures across the West through December, which typically puts upward pressure on water use.