When I started in the water industry more than 40 years ago, providing water to the San Diego region was relatively simple. Imported water deliveries from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California seemed plentiful and reliable, and the San Diego County Water Authority reliably conveyed those MWD supplies to local water districts.
The drought of 1987-92 ended that mirage. At that drought’s peak, the Water Authority faced 50 percent cutbacks from MWD, which provided virtually all of our region’s water. The 50 percent reduction was averted thanks to the Miracle March rains of 1991 – but we did endure a 31 percent supply cutback for more than a year.
We heard loud and clear from our communities that overdependence on any single supplier must end for the region’s long-term good. They knew that no region can prosper when its water supply availability varies wildly from year to year. Residents and businesses must be able to count on those supplies – and the infrastructure that delivers them – every day.
When considering water issues in San Diego County, it’s critical to remember that the big goal is long-term water supply reliability to support 3.2 million residents and a $218 billion economy in a semi-arid region with few naturally occurring water resources.