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Proposed San Vicente Reservoir Hydro Facility Project Aims to Meet Energy Goals

The leader of a conservation group opposes the idea of building this facility since it could be built on two preserves. Friday, the San Diego County Water Authority explained why it’s beneficial for California.

Neena Kuzmich from the San Diego County Water Authority says the proposed hydro energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir will not only generate power for thousands of households, it will help California meet its energy goals.

“The state has an aggressive renewable state goal with 100% by 2045. With clean energy, this project will help in meeting these goals. It will use renewable energy during the day for later use and it does not emit greenhouse gases,” said Kuzmich.

‘We Are Absolutely Gobsmacked That They Would Think This Would Be Possible Here’ | Group Opposes $1.5B San Vicente Energy Storage Facility Project

The City of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority are planning to develop the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility Project.

The proposed hydro energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir could generate enough energy for about 135,000 households.

How it works is the project would create a small upper reservoir above the existing, city-owned San Vicente reservoir. They’d be connected by a tunnel system and an underground powerhouse.

San Vicente Pumped-Storage Electricity Project Moves Ahead

The San Diego County Water Authority and city of San Diego have decided to move forward with environmental review of a pumped-storage electricity generating plant at the San Vicente Reservoir in East County.

The project entails creating a new, smaller reservoir above the giant city-owned lake, a tunnel between the two, and underground pump turbines. Water would be pumped to the upper reservoir when there is excess power on the grid, then drawn down to generate electricity when needed.

Long-Duration Storage Projects Gaining Steam

Just days after the California Energy Commission announced the first application in the state for storage using compressed air, another long-term storage proposal advanced: a 500 MW project that would use pumped storage at the San Vicente Reservoir in eastern San Diego County.

The City of San Diego and the San Diego Water Authority board have begun negotiations with BHE Kiewit, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, on the financing and building terms for the estimated $1.5 billion pumped storage facility. The city and the water agency also approved two contracts totaling $6.2 million for an environmental impact analysis and for preparation of an interconnection agreement with the grid operator plus a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, all on Jan. 27.

WaterSmart: Weathering Dry Times in San Diego County

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.

Why San Diego Has Plenty Of Water Despite California’s Devastating Drought

In many parts of the state, reservoirs are hitting some of their lowest recorded levels.

However, San Diego County’s water supply has stayed mostly the same.

According to a new report from the New York Times, the San Diego County Water Authority estimates that it would have sustainable water supplies through 2045 even if these dry conditions persist for years.

The county’s key water storage site San Vicente Reservoir is about as full as usual, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the state’s reservoirs.

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WaterSmart: Weathering Dry Times in San Diego County

News stories by national and regional media outlets 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 San Diego County won’t be left high and dry during times of drought. The news stories also recognize the successful efforts by the region’s residents to significantly reduce water-wasting practices by embracing a “conservation ethic.”

Water supply in dry times

California-based reporter Jill Cowan visited the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant and the San Vicente Reservoir, among other locations, for her article in The New York Times. The story covers regional water supply projects and investments made by the Water Authority and its member agencies to ensure San Diego County would not be stuck “at the end of the pipe” during periods of drought.

 “There are no silver bullets anywhere,” said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, who noted San Diego’s strides. “They’re definitely in the upper echelon of these creative approaches.”

Chula Vista resident and Sweetwater Authority customer Paul Rodriquez was highlighed in the story as one of many county homeowners who are WaterSmart: Conserving water by yanking out turf for drought-tolerant landscaping and using water-efficient fixtures indoors.

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San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Manager Jeremy Crutchfield (L) explains the reverse osmosis process to The New York Times Reporter Jill Cowan (R) at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“Let’s Diversify”

Spectrum News 1 Reporter Sarah Pilla wrote about the region’s water supply history and how an historic drought led to investments that created a diverse water supply portfolio:

Back in the drought of the ’90s, 95% of San Diego’s water came from one source, and they faced 30% cuts for 13 months.

“Of course being at the end of a pipeline, when there’s little water available, you are at high risk. So, our community came together and said let’s diversify,” Kerl said.

Fast-forward 30 years later, and the San Diego County Water Authority has multiple streams of water sources in its portfolio, including the groundbreaking Carlsbad Desalination Plant that utilizes ocean water to provide the region with about 10% of its drinking water.

Video and story: https://bit.ly/3DWFM1F

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San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl (L) talks with Spectrum News 1 (LA) Reporter Sarah Pilla, at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Diverse portfolio of resources

Wired Magazine writer Matt Simon focused on the science of water recycling and the Pure Water San Diego project.

If that all sounds like a rather convoluted way to get drinking water, that’s because the American West is facing a rather convoluted climate crisis. San Diego—and the rest of Southern California—have historically relied on water from Northern California and the Colorado River. But they’ve always been at the end of the line. The river hydrates 40 million other people in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, and it is withering under a historic drought, a harbinger of even worse water scarcity to come as the climate warms.

So San Diego has to figure out how to do more with less water. The Pure Water program aims to provide more than 40 percent of the city’s water from local sources by the year 2035 by reusing water recycled from homes and businesses. (That means water that has flowed through sinks, showers, toilets, and washing machines.) “We’re diversifying the portfolio,” says Todd Gloria, San Diego’s mayor. “We’re heavily dependent upon water that comes from very far away, and that’s a problem that we have to address.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/30xU8qF

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Pure Water San Diego Associate Engineer Anthony Van guides a virtual tour of the demonstration facility. Photo: City of San Diego

Dry Times and Cutbacks

Reporter Jim Carlton, with The Wall Street Journal, visited San Diego County In June 2021, reporting on the differences in water supply and drought conditions in California: “California’s Drought Leads to Cutbacks in Marin County but Not in San Diego

The pain of a two-year drought drying up the American West isn’t being felt evenly across the country’s most populous state.

That is because Southern California water agencies have for decades invested in new ways to diversify their supplies and recycle what they get, say people who study and work with water in the West. In Northern California, meanwhile, a history of more plentiful rain and snow meant many communities were less prepared for the latest drought and now more homes and businesses must cut back.

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Jim Carlton, reporter with The Wall Street Journal (L) listens as San Diego County Water Authority Principal Engineer Jeff Shoaf describes the San Vicente Dam raise during Carlton’s visit to the San Vicente Reservoir in June 2021. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

“Plenty of water”

The Southern California News Group published an editorial, “SoCal’s water planning offers lesson for state” on October 19:

It’s beyond ironic that the driest, most-populated parts of California are in reasonably good shape whereas the less-populated rainiest parts of the state are in dire straits. San Diego, for instance, had so much water during the last drought that it had to release some of it from its reservoirs. It has plenty of water during this current drought.

Statewide Drought Emergency Declared

Water Shortage Contingency Plan Level 1

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Oct. 19 extension of the statewide drought emergency to all counties in California, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to activate the agency’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan. That plan includes a call for increased voluntary conservation by San Diego residents. CBS 8 Reporter Heather Hope reported on the Board action and tips for how people can reduce water use.

In support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water conservation efforts following California’s two record-dry years, the San Diego County Water Authority activated its “Level 1,” or Voluntary Conservation of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

“We’re trying to achieve 15% to be consistent with the governor’s request of 15% voluntary conservation. It’s using what you have efficiently and not wasting,” said San Diego County Water Authority Water Resources Manager Jeff Stephenson.

How San Diego Gets Its Drinking Water

Reporter Jill Cowan with The New York Times, provided a tour of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, in a story published October 29, 2021.

Whenever California is pummeled by drought — as is still very much the case despite recent rain — a lot of people find themselves asking, “What if we got water from the ocean?”

In San Diego County, it’s already happening at a $1 billion facility by the beach.

Recently, as I reported on San Diego’s decades-long quest for water stability, I visited the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest such facility in the country, to see how it works.

Pure Water Oceanside

Reporter Leah Pezzetti, with ABC 10 News San Diego, visited the City of Oceanside’s Pure Water Oceanside project on Oct. 29 for a look at the process to purify wastewater into drinking water.

San Diego County has been planning ways to increase its sustainable water supply and one of the planned methods is through turning wastewater into potable water. There are three sites planned in the county and the first one, Pure Water Oceanside, is set to open before the end of 2021. 

(Editor’s note: This story was updated on October 30. The Sweetwater Authority, the City of San Diego, and the City of Oceanside are three of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Despite a Punishing Drought, San Diego Has Water. It Wasn’t Easy

In many parts of California, reminders abound that the American West is running out of water. “Bathtub rings” mark the shrinking of the state’s biggest reservoirs to some of their lowest recorded levels. Fields lie fallow, as farmers grapple with an uncertain future. A bed-and-breakfast owner spends $5 whenever a tourist showers. But not in San Diego County. In this coastal desert metropolis, life has stayed mostly the same for residents already accustomed to conserving what they have long treated as a precious resource.

As California Declares Water Crisis, San Diego County Water Authority Declares Water Surplus Until 2045

With all of the extreme heat and lack of rain here in California, some have said that we’re currently in the state’s worst drought in modern history. The drought is so bad that the state of California has now cut off water supplies to farmers in the Central Valley.

So how is the water supply here in San Diego? KUSI’s Dan Plante joined viewers live from Miramar Lake with the local situation.

Opinion: San Vicente Hydroelectric Project a Smart Way to Make Power Grid More Resilient

The state government’s decision to provide $18 million to fund preliminary work on state and federal approvals for the long-anticipated San Vicente Energy Storage Facility — advocated by the San Diego County Water Authority and the city of San Diego — makes the $1.5 billion project significantly more likely to come to pass. The great news is that the “pumped hydro” facility at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside will strongly shore up available energy supplies at night after solar power is no longer directly available.