Forecast: San Diego County Population to Peak at 3.4m in 2042, but Then Drop Off

New estimates of San Diego County’s population show it peaking at 3.4 million in about 20 years, followed by a drop off.

The San Diego Association of Governments says the county will add 152,075 people by 2042, and then start dropping. It estimates the population will drop to 3.3 million by 2060, or pretty close to what it is right now, making it one of the slowest growing metro areas in the U.S.

Supes to Approve Letter on Increased Water Rates

Imperial County Board of Supervisors are expected to approve a letter expressing concerns of high water rates affecting Calipatria and Niland residents on Tuesdsay.

Tuesday’s agenda includes an item to approve a letter to be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission regarding the high cost of water services provided by Golden State Water Company, or GSWC, in the communities of Calipatria and Niland.

San DIego Mayor Todd Gloria led a coalition of regional leaders urging a no vote on detachment by LAFCO at its Monday, July 10 meeting. Photo: San DIego County Water Authority protect ratepayers

Regional Leaders Seek to Protect Ratepayers from $200M Water Bill

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria joined with regional agriculture, business, water, and elected leaders on Friday to oppose a potential $200 million water bill increase for ratepayers across San Diego County.

“The proposed action will have significant, long-term economic impacts to most households in San Diego County. Nearly every family and business will see an increase in their water rates,” Mayor Gloria said. “The cost of living is a continuous struggle for many San Diegans and these proposed rate increases are unacceptable.”

Chair Nora Vargas of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors commented on the proposal’s impact on low-income residents and the lack of a countywide vote. “An unnecessary increase in water bills means taking money away each month from hardworking families who can least afford it,” she said. “Not only will this detachment proposal lead to higher water bills, we also won’t have a say in the matter.”

Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said it’s counterproductive to saddle businesses with additional bills. “This proposal would shift millions in added costs onto local businesses, many of which operate on thin margins,” Sanders said. “Our businesses face so many threats to success. Let’s not add to these challenges with an unnecessary water rate hike.”

A new study indicates original LAFCO cost estimates of detachment are as much as 50% below the true price tag, as much as $200 million. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority protect ratepayers

A new study indicates original LAFCO cost estimates of detachment are as much as 50% below the true price tag, as much as $200 million. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Cost Analysis of Detachment Called Flawed

Two water agencies in Fallbrook and Rainbow seek to leave the San Diego County Water Authority without paying the full cost of investments made on their behalf over the past several decades. On July 10, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission’s (LAFCO) board is expected to vote on the “detachment” proposal, possibly with the inclusion of a limited “exit fee” for Fallbrook and Rainbow. However, LAFCO’s figures are based on years-old data and flawed projections that understate the annual costs of detachment by at least 50%.

Updated figures released this week show that disadvantaged communities, working families, farmers, and others across San Diego County will be forced to pay nearly $200 million more over the next decade for water service unless the agencies seeking to leave the Water Authority are required to fully cover their costs. LAFCO’s data don’t reflect the inflationary realities or the fact that the financial impacts of detachment will continue far beyond LAFCO’s five-year horizon.

“I am deeply concerned that LAFCO could make this momentous decision without ensuring the accuracy of the costs of detaching from the Water Authority or allowing residents countywide to vote on this scheme,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz.

LAFCO’s staff recommendation to approve the detachment plan does not include a substantive analysis of impacts to disadvantaged communities or to agriculture in the Water Authority service area. Nor does it include the environmental analysis required by law.

Agriculture Deeply Affected By Proposal

“We all care about the cost of water because it’s a major factor for most farms,” said Frank Hilliker,” Board Chair of the Lakeside Water District and a long-time egg farmer in East County. “If Fallbrook and Rainbow water agencies don’t pay their costs, it hurts farmers like me who will be forced to pay more. I urge LAFCO to make sure that they require full cost coverage by Fallbrook and Rainbow to protect our region’s agriculture industry.”

A coalition of government, community, business, labor, agriculture, and water leaders joined together today to collectively urge San Diego LAFCO to vote no on detachment at its meeting on Monday, July 10. These leaders include:

  • Mayor Todd Gloria, City of San Diego
  • Chair Nora Vargas, San Diego County Board of Supervisors
  • Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, City of San Diego
  • Vice Mayor Colin Parent, City of La Mesa
  • District Director Janet Chin, Office of Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, District 77
  • Chair Mel Katz, San Diego County Water Authority
  • Vice Chair Nick Serrano, San Diego County Water Authority
  • Board Chair Frank Hilliker, Lakeside Water District & East County Farmer
  • President & CEO Jerry Sanders, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Vice President Carol Kim, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council
  • Vice Chair Gail Goldberg, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Rebates-Businesses-Drought-Water Conservation

Water-Use Efficiency Rebates for Businesses

As extreme drought grips the Southwest, businesses across California are taking a variety of water-saving actions. The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer business rebates and other incentives to help businesses save money while saving water.

State ban on commercial turf

The state’s watering ban was put into place on May 24, 2022 and applies to non-functional turf grass defined as grass that is “solely ornamental” and not regularly used for recreational purposes or community events. The restriction does not apply to yards at individual homes and includes exemptions for sports fields and grassy areas made for community gatherings. Watering trees is allowed and encouraged. Enforcement of the state regulations is at the discretion of the local water agency.

Incentives for business property owners

From turf conversions to incentives for converting industrial water systems to recycled water service, there are numerous opportunities to improve water efficiency on commercial properties. To learn more and find more details, visit Available rebates and resources for business property owners include:

  • Through a partnership between the County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program and the San Diego County Water Authority, businesses in unincorporated areas of the county are eligible for newly enhanced water-use efficiency rebates in 2021. The Waterscape Rebate Program saves money for residential, commercial, and agricultural customers who make landscape upgrades to improve the region’s climate resilience.
  • SoCalWaterSmart’s Commercial Turf Replacement Program offers great incentives to HOAs and commercial business landscapes. Businesses that convert 1 acre or more of irrigated landscapes, can also apply for the WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program which offers rebates for irrigation devices such as controllers, nozzles, and drip irrigation.
  • The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California On-Site Retrofit Program provides financial incentives to public or private property owners to convert potable water irrigation or industrial water systems to recycled water service.
  • Certified landscape irrigation auditors provide free, on-site inspections, or WaterSmart Irrigation Checkups, and written site-specific water-saving recommendations for qualifying commercial properties in the Water Authority’s service area.

San Diego has reliable supply

Declining water availability on the Colorado River and worsening drought conditions statewide underscore the importance of collective actions to ensure reliable water supplies.

“We are committed as a region to answering the Governor’s call to step up conservation efforts in the face of extreme hot and dry conditions statewide,” said Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher. “We are collaborating with the Department of Water Resources’ Save Our Water program, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and our 24 member agencies on public outreach and education efforts this summer to stop water waste and increase conservation efforts to stretch our water supplies.”

The San Diego region has prepared for dry periods and water supplies will continue to sustain the San Diego economy and quality of life. The San Diego County Water Authority is working with its partners at the regional, state, and federal levels to advance water management solutions for the Southwest.

Details on the Water Authority’s programs and drought response and on state regulations go to

Column: You Do Know That, in Most Cases, Bottled Water Is Just Tap Water?

Since the start of the pandemic, thirsty Americans have drowned their sorrow in bottled water. Even before the coronavirus blew into all our lives, bottled water was, and has been for years, the No. 1 beverage in the United States, surpassing soft drinks as the choice of increasingly health-conscious consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated things.

According to a recent report from the International Bottled Water Assn., sales of bottled water exploded last year “as consumers stocked up in order to stay home amid the coronavirus crisis.”

‘It Could be Catastrophic’: CA Legislators Want Gov. Newsom to Declare State of Emergency Over Water ‘Crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis.

Sweetwater Authority Expands Contract Opportunities for Local Businesses, Vendors

Doing business with Sweetwater Authority is easier than ever for local companies, thanks to revisions in the water agency’s procurement policy recently approved by its Governing Board. The revised policy created a preferential purchasing program for local businesses and directed agency staff to engage the local vendor community through a newly created vendor webpage and online form where interested businesses can submit their information to be included in the Authority’s vendor database.

Oceanside COVID-19 Utility Service Relief Program For Businesses

The City of Oceanside has created a utility service relief program for businesses that must remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the program is to support Oceanside’s local business community and provide relief for water, sewer and solid waste utility services by temporarily stopping all utility services and charges.