Thanks to a decades-long supply diversification strategy and continued efficient use of water, the San Diego County Water Authority announced today that the region is in a strong position to meet water demands in water year 2018, which begins Oct. 1. In addition, the agency encouraged residents and businesses to maintain efficient water-use practices to help the region manage its precious water supplies.
“San Diego County continues to have the water necessary to support our $222 billion economy and wonderful quality of life for 3.3 million residents,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors. “In addition to supporting investments to secure reliable water supplies, our region is doing an outstanding job of embracing a permanent water-saving ethic. Months after drought conditions and restrictions ended, San Diego County residents and businesses are sticking to their water-efficient practices, enabling water to be saved for future droughts or emergencies.”
Thanks to remarkably wet conditions last winter, the 2018 water year will begin with improved supply conditions at the Water Authority’s two imported water sources – the Colorado River and the Sierra Nevada. On the Colorado River, a good water year and conservation efforts raised storage levels, prompting the Bureau of Reclamation to declare in August that there is zero chance of shortages in the river system in 2018. Meanwhile, in Northern California, Lake Oroville and San Luis Reservoir – two key State Water Project reservoirs – had 1.38 million more acre-feet in storage combined at the end of August 2017 compared to a year ago. (An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, or enough water to meet the annual needs of two typical single-family households.)
In the San Diego region, water users will benefit from the ongoing operations of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, as well as higher storage levels in many local reservoirs. At the end of August 2017, member agency local storage was up 95,000 acre-feet, or 18 percent, compared to the same time in 2016. Meanwhile the Water Authority had approximately 152,000 acre-feet available in emergency and carryover storage.
The region also is using water nearly as efficiently as it did during the recent drought. Cumulative potable water use in the region between June 2015 and August 2017 was 20 percent lower than the 2013 baseline established by the State Water Resources Control Board. Water use from June through August of this year was flat compared to 2016, remaining 18 percent below 2013 levels.
Looking ahead, the national Climate Prediction Center and International Research Institute for Climate and Society forecast an increasing chance – up to 60 percent – for La Niña conditions to develop in the Northern Hemisphere during the upcoming fall and winter months. This phenomenon sometimes correlates with drier conditions in much of the state, including Southern California.
If dry conditions return, it will be especially important to ensure the region keeps using water efficiently. The Water Authority, in conjunction with its member agencies, has a number of resources available this fall to help residents Live WaterSmart, including:
- Design for Homeowners Workshops: The free three-hour design workshops teach homeowners the basics of a WaterSmart landscape makeover, focusing on soil, design, turf removal, plant selection, planning, irrigation, rainwater catchment and project implementation. Seven workshops are scheduled in October at various locations around the county. For details about workshop dates and times and to register: landscapemakeover.watersmartsd.org/design_workshop.
- San Diego County Garden-Friendly Plant Fairs: The Water Authority and its member agencies continue to partner with The Home Depot to offer free San Diego County Garden-Friendly Plant Fairs. Upcoming fairs are planned for Oct. 7 in Carmel Mountain Ranch and Oct. 14 in Encinitas. Industry experts will be available to provide advice on selecting low-water-use plants, and local retail water agency staff will also be onsite to provide information on water efficiency programs and services. Discounts on plants, mulch and compost will also be offered. For more information, go to watersmartsd.org/programs/garden-friendly-plant-fairs.
- Free WaterSmart Checkups: The Water Authority, in partnership with its 24 member agencies, offers a free service that provides no-obligation, site-specific water-saving recommendations from certified professionals who visit the site and provide recommendations for additional water savings. To learn more and sign up, go to: watersmartcheckup.org/qualify.
- WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Videos on Demand: An on-demand video series that takes viewers through the conversion process step-by-step is available for homeowners to watch on their own time, at their own pace. The series can be found here: landscapemakeover.watersmartsd.org/elearning.
- The San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program: For homeowners who want to go the extra mile and install landscapes that save water and achieve other environmental benefits, the Water Authority and multiple partners offer a suite of resources through the San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program. For more information about SLP, including the 71-page color SLP guidebook with photos, diagrams and checklists to help homeowners understand how to implement a landscape transformation that follows SLP recommendations, go to sustainablelandscapessd.org.
To learn about the Water Authority’s entire suite of water efficiency resources, visit: watersmartsd.org.