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.
San Diego’s place as the top producer of avocados in the country is starting to slip, thanks to soaring water rates and more water being brought in from the salt-heavy Colorado River.
Ten years ago, San Diego water officials predicted demand for water would rise dramatically. Instead, the 1-2 punch of the recession and drought means San Diegans are using far less water than expected. The latest projections show the Water Authority now expects San Diego customers will keep saving water. Of course, lower demand doesn’t mean lower prices — those are expected to keep going up.
Efforts to build or expand water treatment plans in the early 2000s cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, as demand has fallen, the plants operate at a fraction of their capacity or even sit idle for parts of the year.