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Gary Croucher-Board Chair-San Diego County Water Authority-Primary

Help Protect San Diego County Through Voluntary Water-Saving Efforts

This has been a tough week in the water world. On Monday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the first formal shortages on the Colorado River for 2022. That will directly impact Arizona, Nevada and Mexico next year. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors increased its drought alert level – another signal of the serious situation faced by residents across the western U.S.

San Diego region prepared

Declining water availability on the Colorado River and worsening drought conditions statewide underscore the importance of collective actions to ensure reliable water supplies not only for today, but for next year and for future generations. Thankfully, the San Diego region has prepared for dry periods and our water supplies will continue to sustain our economy and quality of life.

Water management solutions

At the same time, we are working with our partners at the regional, state, and federal levels to advance water management solutions for the Southwest because we realize that we are all in this together.

The quickest way to help defeat drought is to eliminate water waste at homes and businesses, and we stand with MWD and Governor Newsom in supporting voluntary water-use efficiencies. There are several ways to do that: checking irrigation systems for leaks and repairing them quickly; keeping chilled water in the fridge instead of running the tap to let it cool; keeping showers to 5 minutes or fewer; applying mulch around plants to reduce evaporation.

With those steps and others, we will emerge from this drought stronger together. Thank you for joining with us in this effort. For more information, resources, rebates and tips, go to www.watersmartsd.org.

Water Authority’s Confidential Consultant Contracts Surprised Board

The San Diego County Water Authority is building a team of consultants but won’t explain the work they’re doing, even to its own board of directors.

The Water Authority spent $167,000 on two consultant contracts since July 2019 without disclosing them to the board, which is composed of representatives from the region’s 24 water agencies. It also won’t say what a third contract that was approved by the board, worth more than $330,000, was for.

MWD GM Hagekhalil: “We Need to Work Together”

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors welcomed new Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Adel Hagekhalil at its June 24 meeting. Hagekhalil was greeted with applause and smiles during the meeting, and at a special reception that followed at the Water Authority’s San Diego office.

Board Chair Gary Croucher called Hagekhalil’s appointment a “prime opportunity” for MWD and the San Diego County Water Authority to benefit water users throughout Southern California, before the new MWD General Manager addressed the Board.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words, water is about people, and I want to salute you for what you have done in San Diego [to create more local water supply],” said Hagekhalil. “We know how important water is to our economy, we know how important it is for our businesses – water is life.”

County Water Authority Raises Rates by 3.6%

The San Diego County Water Authority said Thursday it has adopted a $1.7 billion budget for the next two fiscal years that will keep its spending steady compared with the current budget.

What the agency calls the “all-in” water rate – which is what it charges customers like the city of San Diego – will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water beginning in January.

Hagekhalil-Water Authority-MWD-Come Together

MWD GM Hagekhalil: “We Need to Work Together”

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors welcomed new Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Adel Hagekhalil at its June 24 meeting. Hagekhalil was greeted with applause and smiles during the meeting and at a reception at the Water Authority’s San Diego headquarters.

Board Chair Gary Croucher called Hagekhalil’s appointment a “prime opportunity” for MWD and the Water Authority to benefit water users throughout Southern California before Hagekhalil addressed the Board.

“Water is about people, and I want to salute you for what you have done in San Diego,” he said. “We know how important water is to our economy, we know how important it is for our businesses. Water is life.”

New MWD GM casts collaborative vision

“My goal is to work on uniting all of us together,” Hagekhalil continued. “What worked for us the last hundred years will not work for us the next hundred years; we have changing climate, we have fire days, we have a lot of challenges before us — we need to come together.”

Hagekhalil-MWD-Water Authority-Come Together

New Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Adel Hagekhalil sounds a unifying theme in addressing the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors on June 24 in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

For Hagekhalil, the key is collaboration. “My commitment is to work for every member agency,” he said. “[MWD] would not exist if it were not for the member agencies that we work for — and that’s a shift that I’m going to bring forward. We are here to serve you, we’re here to bring you together and our strength is in our unity, coming together and trusting each other.”

Hagekhalil ended his remarks as he started, with the theme of unity to benefit the region’s water ratepayers and the agencies that serve them.

“I want to commit to you that you have a partner in Metropolitan, as I know you will be there for us as a region,” he said. “You will be working with us to build the future of this region as a whole, with everyone, every member agency, so every person from Southern California and across the state and the region will have affordable, safe, and reliable water that we can be proud of. Because none of us want to turn on the faucet one day and not have water.”

“Visionary leader”

On June 8, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors voted to approve Hagekhalil as the next general manager, replacing outgoing GM Jeff Kightlinger. Hagekhalil’s is the 14th general manager in the district’s 93-year history.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California-Adel Hagekhalil-GM

On June 8, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors voted to approve Adel Hagekhalil as the next General Manager. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

At the time, said Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher said: “Adel is exactly the kind of person and visionary leader Southern California needs, especially as we experience another period of sustained drought, to help guide MWD as it faces important near- and long-term planning decisions impacting its water supply resources and water rates and charges. In short, Adel brings exactly the kind of experience and leadership we believe MWD needs at this time, and we look forward to continued collaboration with him.”

Sustainable local water supplies

“Adel’s selection sends an important signal that Southern California is planning to rely more on sustainable local water supplies in the future, while not abandoning our commitment to the Bay-Delta and Colorado River,” added Croucher. “These include Water Authority agency projects such as San Diego’s Pure Water Project, the East County Water Purification Project, and Oceanside’s Pure Water Project.”

Numerous San Diego County elected officials, labor, business, and community groups joined in writing letters of support for Adel’s appointment.

Board Adopts $1.7 Billion Two-Year Budget, Approves 2022 Water Rates

June 24, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today adopted a $1.7 billion budget for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 – a 0% change from the current two-year budget – and approved water rates and charges for 2022, following a public hearing.

The all-in rate, which is a blend of fixed and variable rates, will rise by 3.6% for treated water and 3.3% for untreated water in calendar year 2022, due to more rate increases by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, continued payments for past investments in supply reliability, and inflationary pressures on energy, chemicals, and construction materials. Actual water bills will vary based on customers’ water use, along with factors unique to their local retail water agencies.

Local Water Districts Get Piece of $44.3M Settlement Refund

A settlement between the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District is delivering a windfall of refunds to local water districts.

The SDCWA filed suits between 2010 and 2018 challenging how Los Angeles-based MWD set rates and imposed charges. SDCWA won several “critical issues” from 2011-14 and was awarded $44.3 million by a state court in January to refund rates and repay overcharges, according to a press release.

SDCWA is also entitled to attorney’s fees and costs for those cases, although the exact amount is to be determined.

The money has been reallocated to its member agencies, with most securing more than $1 million in refunded money.

Water District Director Gary Hurst Named a Delegate to County Water Authority Board

Ramona Municipal Water District directors unanimously agreed May 11 to appoint Director Gary Hurst as a delegate to the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors.

Hurst will replace the water district’s former general manager, David Barnum, in that role. Barnum had served as the district’s representative to the County Water Authority for several years before he retired in March 2021.

The County Water Authority is the regional wholesaler and sole provider of water to the Ramona water district. Currently, The water district has 1.5 percent of the County Water Authority voting rights.

Water Authority Offers to Help Parched Areas of California with Stored Supply in Central Valley

The San Diego County Water Authority’s board has directed its staff to explore opportunities to help other water districts weather an emerging drought across California.

The authority said that because of three decades of investment in supply reliability, along with a continued emphasis on water-use efficiency, the San Diego region has sufficient water supplies for multiple dry years.

Those investments include high-priority Colorado River water from the Imperial Valley, seawater desalination, and access to the Semitropic Original Water Bank in Kern County, where the authority has stored about 16,000 acre-feet of water — enough to supply more than 30,000 homes for a full year.

Water Authority Offers Help to Regions in Need During Drought

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors April 22 authorized staff to explore opportunities to help other water districts weather an emerging drought across California. Three decades of investments in supply reliability, along with a continued emphasis on water-use efficiency, mean the San Diego region has sufficient water supplies for multiple dry years. Those investments include high-priority conserved water from the Imperial Valley, seawater desalination, and access to the Semitropic Original Water Bank in Kern County, where the Water Authority has stored about 16,000 acre-feet of water.