The Water News Network was awarded first place as the Best Public Service or Consumer Advocacy Website in the 48th annual San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards. It’s the fourth consecutive year the WNN website has won first place in that category. The award was announced during a virtual ceremony on October 25. Last year the California Public Information Officers Organization, or CAPIO, named the WNN the “Best Website” among California public agencies.
San Diego County residents joined Americans across the country marking Thursday, October 21 as “Imagine A Day Without Water.” The nationwide awareness campaign offered opportunities to learn about our nation’s water systems and the hard work that goes into ensuring a day without water doesn’t become a reality for their community.
The day-long event is sponsored by the U.S. Water Alliance, the only national nonprofit organization with a diverse membership base representing the range of water champions, including water utilities, public officials, the business community, environmental organizations, community leaders, policy organizations, and researchers.
Imagine a Day Without Water
The Vallecitos Water District partnered with the City of San Marcos to promote Thursday’s awareness efforts among its residents. San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones starred in a video produced by VWD to highlight its water infrastructure investments. In the video, Mayor Jones encourages residents to conserve water. The San Marcos City Council officially proclaimed October 21, 2021 as “Imagine a Day Without Water.”
Awareness campaign follows drought emergency
California Governor Gavin Newsom extended the state’s drought emergency on October 19, appealing to all Californians to do more to conserve water in the face of one of the state’s most severe droughts on record. The declaration added eight remaining counties, including San Diego County, not under the original declaration made in July.
In the United States, aging infrastructure, intensified weather events, and a lack of investment have kept more than two million residents from accessing safe and reliable water and wastewater services. Member agencies, including the Vallecitos Water District along with the San Diego County Water Authority, continue to develop and maintain safe, reliable water supplies and critical infrastructure through strategic planning, long-term investments, and state-of-the-art technologies.
The San Diego County Water Authority is preparing to activate a voluntary conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to sustain California’s water supply after two record-dry years.
The agency’s 36-member board of directors will decide at its formal monthly meeting on Oct. 28 whether to activate the drought response plan, following Wednesday’s recommendation by staff.
Top officials with the San Diego County Water Authority on Wednesday called for the region to voluntarily cut its water use by as much as 10 percent.
The announcement by the region’s wholesaler comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a statewide drought emergency. The state has been calling on urban water users for the last two months to voluntarily slash consumption by 15 percent — 5 percent more than the Water Authority’s new target.
The state slashed water use by 5 percent in August compared with the same month last year. But there were large disparities. While the North Coast cut its use by more than 18 percent and the San Francisco Bay Area by nearly 10 percent, Southern California as a whole reduced its water consumption by just 3 percent.
Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom expanded a drought emergency to now include all of California. During the summer, 50 of the state’s 58 counties were announced as part of the emergency declaration. The eight counties that were previously excluded are now included, which includes most of Southern California.
San Diego County is one of the eight counties now added. The emergency declaration encourages Californians to cut back water usage by 15% and asks all local water agencies to implement conservation plans.
I’m so gratified to report that due to your efforts, today’s New York Times features a lengthy story recognizing the benefits of the San Diego County water reliability strategy – an approach that aligns with Gov. Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio.
The article addresses our region’s role in the nation’s largest ag-to-urban water conservation project, along with the conservation ethic embraced by homes and businesses across the region, and current investments in potable water reuse, which is the next major source of supply for the region.
The Times cited the Public Policy Institute of California – a leading think tank – commending the San Diego region’s efforts. And the story said our collective “try-everything approach to getting water has emerged as a model for cities — including Denver and Albuquerque — where leaders are dealing with one of climate change’s most dire effects.” Also today, the Southern California News Group published an editorial that showcased local investments as a model.
While we celebrate these recognitions, we remain acutely aware of the severe and worsening drought conditions across the West – and how important it is for the San Diego County to continue being a leader in statewide drought defenses. That’s why our Board next week will consider activating our drought response plan. This action supports the governor’s request that local water suppliers implement plans responsive to local conditions, and his extension of the drought emergency declaration to San Diego County.
The San Diego County Water Authority is preparing to activate Level 1 – Voluntary Conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to sustain California after two record-dry years. The agency’s 36-member Board of Directors will decide at its formal monthly meeting on Oct. 28 whether to activate the drought response plan, following today’s recommendation by staff.
While the San Diego region continues to have long-term water resilience and reliable water supplies due to decades of conservation efforts and ratepayer investments, Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl said it’s critical to advance statewide efforts to combat drought.
“This is an all-hands moment,” said Kerl. “We are fully supportive of the governor’s efforts and fully engaged in helping residents and businesses do their part each and every day.”
Activate Water Shortage Contingency Plan
On Tuesday Oct. 19, Gov. Newsom extended his drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state and asked the State Water Board to ban wasteful water practices such as using potable water for washing driveways and sidewalks. In addition, the governor directed water suppliers to implement Water Shortage Contingency Plans, which are responsive to local supply-demand conditions.
The Water Authority’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan is designed for situations in which the agency’s supplies have been reduced. Previous versions of the plan have been activated twice before – once in 2007 and again in 2014. While the region isn’t currently facing supply reductions, Kerl said the recommendation to go to Level 1 sends a signal that voluntary conservation efforts are necessary, and it gives local retail water agencies flexibility to address local conditions.
In line with Gov. Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio, San Diego County’s diversified water resources reduce pressure on the State Water Project and make more water available to other areas of the state hit hardest by drought. The Water Authority helped enact the nation’s largest ag-to-urban conservation project to sustain the region’s $253 billion economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million people. In addition, the region’s per capita water use is down nearly 50% since 1990.
Take actions to prevent water waste
“While we are hopeful that a wet winter will take the edge off this current drought, we need to recognize that may not be the case,” Kerl said. “The entire American West is facing hot and dry conditions not seen in our lifetimes, and the realities of climate change mean we need to prepare for this as the new normal.
“We have resources to help as every resident and business owner takes this call seriously and looks for ways they can take meaningful actions to prevent water waste.”
At Level 1 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan, the Water Authority will enhance regional outreach and education to promote conservation. The agency offers numerous tools to make the most of every drop at www.watersmartsd.org. Resources include:
- Water-use efficient landscape classes for residential and professional landscapers
- Rebates for indoor and outdoor water saving devices
- Rebates for turf replacement
- Water-use checkups for homes and businesses that include water-saving recommendations
The Water Authority is also developing a program to increase installation of low-flow toilets in low-income communities, and it’s looking for opportunities to help the parts of the state that are suffering from extreme water shortages. The Water Authority has groundwater stored in the Central Valley that could be exchanged or sold, and the Water Authority is seeking partners who could benefit from increasing water production at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.
The 2021 water year was the driest in California in more than a century, but San Diego County continues to have reliable water supplies due to long-term investments in water sources and infrastructure, coupled with extensive water conservation efforts.
October 20, 2021 – The San Diego County Water Authority is preparing to activate Level 1 – Voluntary Conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to sustain California after two record-dry years. The agency’s 36-member Board of Directors will decide at its formal monthly meeting on Oct. 28 whether to activate the drought response plan, following today’s recommendation by staff.
More than 18 months into the pandemic, COVID-19 still reigns as the most pressing concern for California issuers.
During a panel discussion Tuesday at The Bond Buyer’s California Public Finance virtual conference, every discussion involved the pandemic in some way.
Recent news stories highlighted the investments by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to create a plentiful water supply for the region, helping to weather dry times like the current drought.
The New York Times, Spectrum News 1, The Wall Street Journal and Wired Magazine are among several news organizations that have reported on the region’s water supply projects, current and future, that ensure the 3.3 million residents of the county won’t be left high and dry during times of drought.