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San Diego's water supply:

San Diego has an adequate water supply in 2015 and 2016 (even without the mandated restrictions and the predicted strong El Niño) due to:

   - Imperial Irrigation District water transfer, beginning in 2003: 200,000 additional acre feet by 2019

   - Lining of All American and Coachella canals completed 2010:  77,700 additional acre feet

   - Carlsbad desalination plant, completed 2015: 153.5 additional acre feet

    - Recycled water projects: 38,660 additional acre feet


Additionally, our emergency storage project has been expanded:

    - Oivenhain Dam and Reservoir, completed 2003: storage capacity 24,000 acre feet

       (86.5% of capacity as of 7/2715; 3,692 acre feet above last year)

    - San Vicente Dam raised, more than doubling capacity of San Vicente reservoir, in 2015, adding 152,000 acre feet 

         (San Vicente reservoir was 49.8% of capacity as of 8/31/15, approximately 48,000 acre feet above last year)

          and will continue to fill, as the water San Diegans are not allowed to use will be pumped into San Vicente Dam.


San Diego is developing additional sources of water: 

   - Padre Dam recycled water project: 2,000-3,000 acre feet added by 2016

   - San Diego recycled water project : 92 acre feet added by 2021, total of 254.7 acre feet added by 2035

          projected to supply 1/3 of county water needs


and more.


Lake Mead supplies a significant amount of the water used in San Diego County. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Lake Mead, sees no shortage in 2016 or 2017.


The development of these and other drought-proof water sources is threatened by

Governor Brown's sweeping water use restrictions.


San Diego's conservation history:

Because of its diversified water supply portfolio, the Water Authority currently has enough water to meet 99 percent of normal year demands. Regardless, due to statewide drought conditions the State Water Resources Control Board’s aggregate water-use reduction target for the region is 20 percent compared to 2013 levels starting June 1. Over the first three months of state-mandated savings, the San Diego region reduced urban potable water use by 27 percent compared to the state’s baseline period of June, July and August 2013. 


Conserved water in San Diego County is being stored locally for future use . . . Since May 2015, the Water Authority has stored 42,000 acre-feet of water in San Vicente Reservoir. An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, enough to serve two typical families of four for a year.


Potable water use by the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies has decreased more than 20% since 2007.


Per capita water use in the Water Authority’s service area has fallen from more than 200 gallons per person/day to less than 150 gpcd over the past decade . . . . In 2015 total regional use of potable water is projected to be about 21 percent less than it was in 1990, even with a population increase of approximately 30 percent over that period (this projection was made before the governor's mandates, so does not include the additional reduction in water use).

County Water Supply Stable

San Diego Union Tribune, July 17, 2015, Teri Figueroa  


"In 1991, in the middle of a long drought, the San Diego County Water Authority was importing 95% of its water . . . and was almost completely dependent on the Metropolitan Water District . . .


"In 2003, the W​ater Authority reached an historic water-transfer deal with the Imperial Irrigation District in which Imperial Valley farmers agreed to sell up to 200,000 acre-feet of water a year to San Diego County residents for about $50 million annually. 


"As of last year, Metropolitan water accounted for 48% of the region's water supply. The amount is projected to drop to 30% by the end of the decade. . . . by 2020, desalinization could account for 10% of the county's water supply.


"Peter MacLaggan, vice president of Poseidon Water, which is behind the development of the Carlsbad desalination project . . . said the future will see San Diego recycle 'every drop we use and make up the difference from the ocean.' "


















































Before 2015 mandated restrictions


























San Diego County Water Authority




Some Residents Believe State’s Water-Use Restrictions Are all Wet

Rancho Santa Fe Review, July 7, 2015, Joe Tash,


In response to Michael Hogan's comments in the above interview, following are comments from Don Billings, Former Chair, City of San Diego Independent Rates Oversight Committee, who was interviewed for the same article (excerpts from the article are in black, Mr. Billing's comments are in blue): 


"Michael Hogan, president of the Santa Fe Irrigation District board and a member of the San Diego County Water Authority board, said San Diego County water agencies have invested in many different projects to enhance the local water supply.  As a result, San Diego County can now provide for 30% of its annual water needs, compared with 5% in the past. The percentage will continue to increase, he said, but the county still imports most of its water."


"It is correct that San Diegans have made a lot of investments, but Hogan fails to make clear that we made those investments to reduce our dependence on supply from northern California. Therefore, his comment that we still import most of our water is misleading. The fact is that the plan is to use more of the more reliable Colorado River water and less of the unreliable Northern California water. That is what we have achieved, and will move more fully toward in the near future under existing contracts (the additional 100,000 acre feet annually on top of the current 180,000 acre feet).


"Note that there has been above average precipitation in the six states that feed the Colorado this past year, and that May was the wettest on record (since 1895), at about 225% of normal. Result is that Lake Powell has already risen about 15%, to near average level, and the US Bureau of Reclamation has stated that they will begin this month to release water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead (Lake Mead levels are low, but not much different than long term averages)."


“ 'The truth of the matter is that, looking out beyond one year, with regard to available supplies, they’re greatly threatened in the following years,'  Hogan said.”  


"He needs to provide support. The US Bureau of Reclamation has already stated publicly that they expect no shortages in Lake Powell at least through 2017. NOAA and other respected international meteorological agencies have declared that the current El Nino is one of the strongest on record and highly likely to lead to heavier than normal precipitation in the US Southwest beginning this fall and winter."


“ 'We have to manage this from a multi-year approach. Conserving now under the governor’s mandate allows us the opportunity to manage our water supplies more effectively; that will reduce more severe cutbacks in the following years … and have the least impact on residents and businesses and ultimately on the economy' [Hogan said].” 


"It appears that Hogan thinks he should take advantage of the Governor's executive order as an "opportunity" to fill local reservoirs. But he fails to acknowledge that we can more effectively manage, and already have been more effectively managing, local demand and supply using existing tools. He fails to mention that this approach is very costly:

     --higher rates to offset much lower sales--essentially an added tax;

     --$350 million conservation budget ratepayers are forced to pay for people to remove their lawns, change their

      plumbing fixtures, provide buckets for showers, etc.;

     --additional costs for water police, administration of fines and penalties;

     --costs that do not fall directly on the agency's books, but on their customers, such as costs of changing out landscaping and

       irrigation systems, destruction of property, harm to the business climate, etc.;

     --suspicion and ill will among neighbors, monitoring each other's water use and reporting perceived infractions.


"His statement that the imposition of current restrictions will reduce more severe cutbacks in the following years is without factual or logical foundation. Here is what is known today:

     --desal coming on line in three months,

     --improved supply conditions on the Colorado River,

     --strong El Nino forecasts,

     --accelerated build out of potable reuse (aka pure water),

     --significant additional Colorado River supplies as part of IID transfer contract, etc.


"In fact, Hogan has it backward:  the likelihood of even more severe cutbacks in the future is quite low." 


"Water agencies have embraced technology, either adopting or studying a number of options, from water-efficient devices for homes, to recycling waste water, which can be treated, blended with water in reservoirs, and then purified for household use, Hogan said.  “\'That’s what the (county) water authority and member agencies have been doing already, and there’s been a lot of progress,' Hogan said. 'This doesn’t happen overnight.'" 


"We agree. This is the point. San Diegans have been making these investments. But his suggestion that the benefits are somehow very far off is not supported by the facts. The fact is that, after four years of low rainfall in California, San Diego has adequate water supplies."


"He rejected calls for the district to ignore the state mandates. 'That’s not an acceptable approach with the current board of directors, and I know of no agency that’s taking that approach,' Hogan said. 'It would be contrary to my duties as a sworn public official to not make every effort possible to comply with the directives from the state.' " 


"No one is advocating that SFID ignore them. On the contrary, we are advocating they challenge them." 


“ 'It’s a crisis, and I think people need to realize that,' he said."  


"My comment stands: the facts clearly show that while rain supply is always uncertain (ask any farmer, anywhere in the world) we do not have a water supply emergency in San Diego."

Total Supply 2015: 617 TAF

Total Usage 2014: 594.5 TAF

Where San Diego Gets Its Water – and Where it Goes

Voice of San Diego, April 20, 2015, Ry Rivard 


"San Diego once bought about 95 percent of its water from Metropolitan. That’s changed significantly since a drought over two decades ago made San Diego officials worry they were too dependent on that one source of water. Now, San Diego buys just less than half of its water from Metropolitan – that includes all the Northern California water we use and about half of the Colorado River water we get. . . .


"But the county still relies on Metropolitan’s massive delivery system to bring us the other half of the Colorado water supply. That water has a different legal status and comes here thanks to two canal lining projects that increased the amount of water flowing west from the Colorado, and from a deal the county cut with the Imperial Irrigation District. Even though Metropolitan delivers some of that water, the water itself is not Metropolitan’s.


"In the city, about 18 percent of water is used outdoors, for things like lawn care, according to the Public Utilities Department. That’s a hard figure to come by because it relies on a few assumptions, namely that a single-family home uses about half of its water outside the house. About 36 percent of city water is used by single-family homes.


"Another chunk of the city’s water, about 15 percent, is used for various other kinds of irrigation, including golf courses.


"Other industrial uses account for 25 percent of the city’s water use.


"The county and the city are both working to increase their supply of local water. The County Water Authority wants to eventually depend even less on the Metropolitan Water District – it hopes to buy only one-third of its water from the agency by 2020.


"Even though the state is going to ask municipal water customers across California to reduce their water use by an average of 25 percent depending on where they live, the San Diego County Water Authority is not that short on water.


"That’s because the governor’s cuts do not . . . correspond to regional water supplies. The county estimates it may have between 95 and 101 percent of the water needed to meet residential and business customers’ demand over the next year – even without the state’s mandatory restrictions."

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