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.

National Climate Assessment Predicts Growing Threats to Society, Economy

A long-awaited federal climate report, released Tuesday, delivers a blunt warning: Rapidly curb planet-warming emissions or face dire consequences to human health, infrastructure and the economy.

The fifth installment of the National Climate Assessment presents the most comprehensive evaluation to date of U.S. climate science, impacts and action. Dozens of authors, including representatives from multiple federal agencies, contributed to the congressionally mandated report.

For the first time since 2020, the Women In Water Conference returns to Cuyamaca College on March 29. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Women in Water Conference Fosters Workforce Diversity

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra Kerl is the keynote speaker at the 2023 Women in Water Conference at Cuyamaca College Wednesday, March 29. This year’s theme is “Building Resilience In Post-Pandemic Times.” Kerl’s remarks will focus on the conference theme of building career resilience in a new post-pandemic work environment.

The conference starts at 11 a.m. followed by a reception and professional networking at The Water Conservation Garden from 5 to 7 p.m.

Conference topics include interview tips; advocating for needs in the workplace; working with diverse teams of differing personalities; and becoming a leader of influence and change. Participants can have a professional headshot taken at the start of the conference and visit exhibit booths featuring organizations from the industry.

This year’s conference is designed to help attendees realign their focus following several years of unprecedented challenges. The goal is to provide the tools and insights to help them navigate the new normal in the industry through both programming and career networking opportunities.

Conference topics address varied experience levels

Women In Water Conference attendees will have opportunities to network with water industry professionals. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The conference opens with a panel discussion about career opportunities for women in the water and wastewater industry.

Each of the afternoon’s breakout sessions offers three specific career level tracks to address needs at each level: entry level for individuals new to water industry careers; people looking for career advancement; and established professionals interested in honing their leadership skills and advocating for workforce diversity.

Lunch, refreshments, and parking are included in the $25 general fee. Registration is free for students. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway, El Cajon. Register here.

Wide range of career opportunities

City of Escondido Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Carrie Selby is among a growing number of women working in water and wastewater industry careers. Photo: City of Escondido

City of Escondido Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Carrie Selby is among a growing number of women working in water and wastewater industry careers. Photo: City of Escondido

The water and wastewater industry offers vast opportunities in engineering, operations, finance, public affairs, human resources, administration, and information technology.

Since 2017, the Water Authority’s “Faces of the Water Industry” campaign has highlighted nearly 200 employees in San Diego County across multiple water agencies and job types.

The informational campaign is designed to introduce the wide variety of career opportunities available at all skill levels with an emphasis on welcoming a wide-ranging talent pool of candidates including women.

Approximately 4,500 professionals serve the San Diego region in water and wastewater careers. More than 1,400 of those workers are expected to reach retirement age within the next five years. Water and wastewater treatment plant operators in California earn an annual mean wage of more than $74,590, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Escondido Incubator Could Revive North County’s Ag Industry. UC Could Be Partner

A vacant, city-owned industrial building could become a hub for new businesses in the field of agricultural technology under a proposal now being explored by Escondido officials.

The idea is to turn the empty building at 455 N. Quince St. — most recently used as a mattress factory and warehouse — into an incubator where researchers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists could come together to hatch new companies that would serve North County’s agriculture industry.

Data Centers, Backbone of the Digital Economy, Face Water Scarcity and Climate Risk

Data centers are springing up around the world to handle the torrent of information from the expanding web of devices ingrained in people’s lives and the economy. Managing that digital information gusher is big business. It also comes with hidden environmental costs.

For years, companies that operate data centers have faced scrutiny for the huge amounts of electricity they use storing and moving digital information like emails and videos. Now, the U.S. public is beginning to take notice of the water many facilities require to keep from overheating. Like cooling systems in large office buildings, water often is evaporated in data center cooling towers, leaving behind salty wastewater known as blowdown that has to be treated by local utilities.

Opinion: Water May Cost More Now, But 30 Years Ago San Diego Almost Ran Out

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the cost of water — and that makes sense given the economic realities faced by many residents, farmers, and businesses. But it also seems that newer generations of San Diegans do not know that there was a time when we didn’t have water when and where we needed it.

Thankfully, that’s not a problem in San Diego County today even though elsewhere drought-stricken communities face the potential of only having enough water to meet basic health and safety needs.

The Drought Is Drying Up California’s Economy: Who’s Responsible For Opening The Floodgates?

Cropless fields, fishless rivers, burning forests, empty reservoirs and powerless dams — either you’ve seen the headlines, or you’re living it. America’s West has run out of water.

For most of us, this is a reckoning moment. Water exists in abundance. It’s cheap, free-flowing and limitless. We’re quite literally swimming in the stuff.

But suddenly, that’s no longer true. California’s surging population and farming-dependent economy, coupled with sustained drought, means that demand has completely drowned out supply.

Crop Report-Top Crops-agriculture-San Diego County

Agriculture Tops $1.8 Billion in New SD County Crop Report

Agriculture values topped $1.8 billion for the first time since 2014 and just the third time in 30 years in the County of San Diego’s annual Crop Report that covers the 2020 growing season, overcoming decreases in many crop values and reported mixed effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The total value of all agriculture crops and commodities rose just 0.8% in the new Crop Report. But that was enough to push total values from $1,795,528,573 in 2019 to $1,810,326,411.

It was the fourth time in the past five Crop Reports that overall agriculture values increased, and the third time since 1990 that total values topped $1.8 billion in San Diego County. Values exceeded $1.8 billion in both 2013 and 2014.

Top crops

The overall increase in 2020 was boosted by gains from the two largest groups of crops grown in the county — Nursery & Cut Flower Products, which account for 70% of all crop values; and Fruit & Nut Crops, which account for 19% of all crop values.

Nursery & Cut Flower Products increased 2%, from $1.25 billion to $1.27 billion. Fruit & Nut Crops increased 0.7%, from roughly $342 million to $344 million.

A smaller agriculture group, Forest Products, which includes timber and firewood, increased 1.5% from $855,154 in 2019 to $868,398.

But the other four crop groups decreased ­— Vegetable & Vine Crops, Field Crops, Apiary Products and Livestock and Poultry.

The largest of those groups, Vegetable & Vine crops, which account for 7% of total agriculture values, decreased 6.3%, from roughly $131 million to $122 million. It marked the fourth decline for Vegetable & Vine crops in the past five reports.

The report stated that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic appeared to be mixed. Some growers reported labor shortages and business closures; others suggested the people staying home because of the pandemic may have increased demand for items such as bedding plants, perennials, and indoor flowering and foliage plants.

Crop Report-Cut Flowers-Ed Joyce photo-agriculture-San Diego County-Top crops

The overall increase in San Diego County 2020 agriculture values was boosted by gains from the one of the two largest groups of crops grown in the county: Nursery & Cut Flower Products, which account for 70% of all crop values. Photo: Carlsbad Flower Fields / Ed Joyce

Ornamental Trees & Shrubs

Among the individual crops, the county’s king of the annual Top 10 list continued to be Ornamental Trees & Shrubs despite a 3% decrease in total value.

Ornamental Trees & Shrubs decreased from $445 million in 2019 to $432 million, but still edged out the number two crop, Bedding Plants, Color & Herbaceous Perennials, Cacti & Succulents, at $431.8 million.

Avocados in 4th Place on Top 10 list

San Diego County’s most well-known crop, Avocados, remained in fourth place on the Top 10 list, increasing in value in 2020 by 9.2%, from nearly $140 million to nearly $153 million, after increasing nearly 16% in 2019.

The rest of the Top 10 crops remained relatively similar to past years. Oranges and Livestock and Poultry exchanged places, with Oranges falling from the seventh spot to eight, and Livestock and Poultry rising from eight to seven.

The annual Crop Report is compiled by the County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures and can be seen online. The report provides a yearly snapshot of an industry that remains a staple of the region’s economy despite challenges like drought, rising water costs, fires, freezes, pests and the pandemic.

County Board of Supervisors actions support agriculture

San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors has taken several actions over the years to boost agriculture, including creating a boutique winery ordinance to promote the creation of small wineries; approving a beekeeping ordinance that allows more beekeeping while protecting the public; adopting an agricultural easement program that preserves agricultural space; and streamlining regulations for things like cheese-making, agritourism and onsite horticultural sales.

Last year, the Board unanimously voted to help growers by deferring fees for export certification, direct marketing, and hazardous materials inventory, allowing growers use those funds for operation needs during the pandemic.

“Farming thriving”

Supervisor Jim Desmond represents the County’s Fifth supervisorial district, which is home to a lot of the county’s agricultural land.

“During the pandemic, we have seen how essential farming is in San Diego County,” Desmond said. “Despite a difficult past 16 months for everyone, it’s great to see farming thriving. It is an honor to be the supervisor of District Five, which has a diverse variety of agricultural crops ranging from flowers to strawberries and avocados!”

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Wine grapes decreased in total value by nearly 7%, from roughly 5.6% million to $5.2 million, after posting 21.5%, 19% and 28% gains the previous three years.
  • At $431 million, Bedding Plants, Color & Herbaceous Perennials, Cacti & Succulents accounted for 24% of the region’s total agriculture production.
  • The 9.2% increase in avocado’s value was fueled in part by a 46% increase in yield.
  • Although total citrus values decreased by 3%, grapefruit crop values increased by 14%.

Here’s a look at the 2020 Top 10 crops:

Top Crops-San Diego County-Crop Report-agriculture

(Editors note: This story by Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications Office)

Opinion: Californians Will Adapt to Living With Drought, As We Always Have

Climate change is exacerbating droughts and accelerating the transformation and decline of California’s native forest and aquatic ecosystems.  As a state, we are poorly organized to manage these effects, which need extensive focused preparation.  We need to adapt (and we will make mistakes in doing so).  Our human, economic and environmental losses will be much greater, however, if we manage poorly because of delay, complacency or panic.

Drought Imperils Economy in California’s Farm Country

Sitting in a pickup truck on his almond farm 100 miles north of San Francisco, Tom Butler pointed to a withered grove he has been planning to bulldoze in order to save his little remaining water for younger trees.

“It’s not a decision any farmer wants to make,” the 42-year-old said last week. “We’re in survival mode.”