At very least, an appellate court ruling this week is a momentary setback for the San Diego County Water Authority at crucial time in California water policy and politics. The Water Authority has two major decisions to make by the end of the year and the ruling plays some part in each of them.
The recent rain and snow across much of the state seem to have given water agencies breathing room to think long and hard about one oft-floated solution that came up a lot during the drought: desalination.
Water agencies are working on dozens of projects to boost Southern California’s water supply. But many of the agencies are simultaneously boosting their own projects and arguing that others shouldn’t be built – partly out of a fear that ratepayers will only tolerate so many projects, and partly because of politics and territorialism.
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to build two 35-mile underground tunnels to keep water coming south through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. The San Diego County Water Authority used to pine for such a plan. But now, emboldened by its drought-proofing projects and wary of shocking ratepayers, the agency is aggressively questioning Brown’s delta tunnels.
It’s still too soon to know if the drought is truly over. We can’t predict the future, for one thing. Nor can we agree on what is meant by “drought.” President-elect Donald Trump, the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Drought Monitor and some top climate scientists all have different definitions.
In this week’s San Diego Explained, NBC 7 San Diego’s Nicole Gomez and VOSD’s Ry Rivard look at the region’s overlapping and contradictory water-use suggestions.
Extreme mandates aren’t the only way to achieve water savings. The Water Authority has worked to increase water-use efficiency statewide and to ensure a diverse, drought-proof supply of water.
Without mandatory conservation, San Diego is positioning itself to fall back into the same short-sighted planning that built the state’s drought inadequacies in the first place.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s “negativity” isn’t the official reason the group is not participating in talks about the future of California’s water supply, but at least one participant says the Water Authority’s long-running series of disputes with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was a factor.
Representatives of the three states have been huddling behind closed doors and, for the first time ever, California water officials are offering to give up some of the state’s strongest claims to the Colorado River – at least temporarily. San Diego water officials are sitting on the sidelines, but that hasn’t stopped them from voicing strong opinions about a possible deal.