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Committed to Conservation

Our investments to protect San Diego County from the harsh effects of the worst drought in 1,200 years continue to pay off. Last week, the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution reaffirming our commitment to water conservation after we were joined by California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, and many regional leaders to commit to additional water-saving measures that stretch our limited resources.

My sincere thanks go out to Secretary Crowfoot and Mayor Gloria for their leadership, as well as the many other civic and business leaders who joined us to promote the Summer of Water Savings. We are proud to have coordinated regional efforts to maximize San Diego priorities and efficiencies within the San Diego County economy and quality of life.

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

Committed to Conservation

Our investments to protect San Diego County from the harsh effects of the worst drought in 1,200 years continue to pay off. Last week, the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution reaffirming our commitment to water conservation after we were joined by California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, and many regional leaders to commit to additional water-saving measures that stretch our limited resources.

My sincere thanks go out to Secretary Crowfoot and Mayor Gloria for their leadership, as well as the many other civic and business leaders who joined us to promote the Summer of Water Savings. We are proud to have coordinated regional efforts to maximize San Diego priorities and efficiencies within the San Diego County economy and quality of life.

Summer of Water Savings

The list of supporting organizations includes the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego County Farm Bureau, the San Diego Tourism Authority, Biocom California, the South County Economic Development Council, the East County Economic Development Council, the Industrial Environmental Association, the Asian Business Association, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the Building Industry Association of San Diego, the San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Building Owners and Managers Association.

I’m also grateful to every San Diegan who helped reduce per capita water use in our region by more than 40% over the past three decades. We have made water conservation a way of life — but the fact is that we can and should do more. We don’t know what the future may bring. The water we save now, the more we will have if conditions worsen.

Collaboration on conservation, investments

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. 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.

We also are extremely proud of the investments our member agencies are making in water repurification projects that will sustain our region in the future. It is through forward-thinking projects like these, combined with our historic water conservation agreements, that we will continue to lead California in water supply reliability and conservation. And our success in this generational mission is a model for how to sustain the long-term health of our communities, farms, environment, and economy.

San Diegans Asked to Cut Back On Water Usage

 It’s time to cut back on water usage. That’s the message from city, county and state leaders Thursday afternoon as officials say this is the worst drought in 1,200 years. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria joined Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency and Gary Croucher, Chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors for the announcement.

Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir 2023 rates

Water Authority Proposes 2023 Rates and Charges for Member Agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is taking strategic steps to minimize 2023 rate increases for its 24 member agencies and their customers while ensuring a safe, reliable, and affordable water supply as drought grips California for a third consecutive year.

FY 22&23 Adopted Budget ($1.7 million). Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

FY 22&23 Adopted Budget ($1.7 million). Graphic: San Diego County Water Authority

Water Authority staff proposed increasing 2023 rates and charges for member agencies by 5.2% for treated water and 3.7% for untreated water. The increases are attributable to historically high inflation, significant energy cost increases from SDG&E, and continued cost increases by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The rate proposal for 2023 includes strategic withdrawals from the Water Authority’s Rate Stabilization Fund, which was created in 1990 to help avoid rate spikes, especially those driven by reduced water sales. To reduce 2023 rate increases by approximately $39 per acre-foot, the Water Authority plans to draw $14.2 million from that fund.

Public comment

The Water Authority Board is expected to vote on rates for next year at its regular meeting on June 23, following a public hearing. The public is invited to comment on the proposed rates and charges. Public comment may be submitted by either of these two methods:

Before the meeting, or before the public comment closes at the meeting, submit your telephone number by e-mail to the clerk at and the clerk will call you when the Board is ready to hear your public comment (three minutes or less); OR

Before the meeting, or before public comment closes at the meeting, email your comment to the Water Authority General Counsel at , and time allowing, it may be read aloud at the public comment period (three-minute limit).

If modifications or accommodations from individuals with disabilities are required, such persons should provide a request at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting by e-mail to the Water Authority General Counsel at

(Note: Per Governor Newsom’s executive orders and state legislation, the June 23 San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors Meeting will not be held in person, but electronically. The public may access the meeting electronically by going to this web link: https://www.sdcwa.org/meetings-and-documents and then clicking the link listed below “Live Stream” on the right hand side of the page).

Focus on maintaining lowest possible 2023 rates

Desal plant-5th anniversary-Carlsbad-construction

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant under construction in December 2013 reflects a significant commitment to water supply diversification. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“We recognize inflationary pressures are challenging for many residents, and we are working collaboratively with all levels of government to identify, advocate for, and improve water affordability,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “As our rate-setting process moves forward, we will remain focused on maintaining the lowest possible rates while delivering a safe and reliable water supply during the driest period in more than 1,200 years.”

The Water Authority’s commitment to affordability includes securing $25 million from the State of California to pay water bills for San Diego County residents impacted by COVID-19; securing $80 million through advocacy efforts in 2021 and distributing that money to member agencies; avoiding hundreds of millions in future costs on water deliveries; and maintaining strong credit ratings that reduce the cost of debt.

In 2023, the Water Authority proposes charging its 24 member agencies the equivalent to an all-in rate of $1,579 per acre-foot for untreated water, or $56 more per acre-foot than they currently pay. Charges would be $1,929 per acre-foot for treated water, or $96 more per acre-foot than in 2022. (Note: An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to serve the annual needs of 2.5 typical four-person households in San Diego County).

Actual figures will vary by member agency, and each member agency will incorporate costs from the Water Authority into the retail rates it charges to residents, businesses, and institutions.

Rising costs for treatment, supplies, and energy

Water Facilities Master Plan Update-Infrastructure-Planning 2023 rates

A major rehabilitation project on the region’s historic First Aqueduct was completed in North San Diego County in January 2021. The Water Authority will continue to lead in preparing for an uncertain future by improving existing infrastructure with resiliency and flexibility at top of mind. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The Water Authority’s overall rate increase is driven by multiple factors, such as rising costs for its water supplies, including increases in water treatment (driven by energy costs), conserved water supplies driven by inflation, and continued increases from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, including a 7% increase for untreated supplies.

Each year, the Water Authority’s rate proposal is developed in conjunction with an independent cost-of-service study to ensure rates and charges comply with state law, legal requirements, cost-of-service standards, and Board policies. For 2023, an additional third-party consultant hired to perform a cost-of-service review again affirmed the Water Authority’s process. Throughout the six-month rate-setting process, the Water Authority worked closely with its member agencies to keep the proposed rates and charges at the low end of earlier projections.

“Despite the current inflationary environment and the challenges of the pandemic, our strategic financial planning and management of debt allows us to keep the proposed rates at the low end of our projections,” said Water Authority Finance Director Lisa Marie Harris. “We continue to control rates while maintaining a complex water production, treatment, and delivery system that supports the region now and for decades to come.”

The rate proposal also includes strategic management of the Water Authority debt portfolio resulting in $130 million in net present value savings from several refundings.

The 2023 rate proposal ensures debt-coverage ratios that maintain the Water Authority’s strong credit ratings and minimize the cost of borrowing money for construction projects. This approach saves ratepayers money over the long run. The Water Authority has senior lien credit ratings of AAA from Standard & Poor’s, AA+ from Fitch ratings, and Aa2 from Moody’s.

For more information about the Water Authority’s proposed 2023 rates, go to the May Board packet starting on page 215.

Student-science-fair-project

San Diego County Students Discover Practical Water Solutions

On April 28, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors showcased this year’s group of award winners from the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. The Water Authority has judged water-related projects in the fair for several decades as part of an effort to support STEM education in the region and inspire young people to pursue careers in the water industry.

Each year, the fair showcases hundreds of innovative projects created by middle and school students. The water-related projects often aim to solve a variety of global water issues.

High school students find practical solutions for global water issues

In the senior division, Issa Alwazir from Bright Horizon Academy in San Diego designed and built a water filter that can produce drinkable water using natural resources that are found in developing nations.

Fahad Majidi, also from Bright Horizon Academy, won second place in the senior division with a system for filtering greywater for residential use. Fahad tested his device on water in his home and is building a larger scale version for next year.

William Maywood from Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista earned third place in the senior division. William tested Otay Lakes Reservoir’s water quality to determine its probability for eutrophication, which is when the richness of the nutrients in a body of water reaches increased or excessive levels.

Middle school students understand importance of clean, reliable water

In the junior division, Alana Bridges from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Diego won first place by testing several methods of water purification, including solar disinfection, bleach and a natural filter, to determine which produced the purest water.

In second place, Paddy Ward from St. Didacus Parish School in San Diego used PVC pipes to design and build a drip irrigation system that could scale for agricultural use.

Cassidy Chan and Jessica Talavera from St. Michael’s School in Poway teamed up to win third place in the junior division. Their project was focused on testing different methods of desalinating water to determine which was most effective.

Through the K-12 education program and events like the Science and Engineering Fair, the Water Authority encourages students throughout the region to become next generation of water industry professionals.

Mel Katz Seated as Vice Chair of Water Authority Board

March 25, 2022 – Businessman and civic leader Mel Katz is the new vice chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board, filling a vacancy created when Mona Rios stepped down from the post. The Board of Directors voted unanimously on Thursday to install Katz to fill the rest of Rios’ term, which ends in September.

 

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.