San Diego County and Southern California water industry leaders commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), cited as a model of collaboration, relationship building, and voluntary conservation efforts among Southern California’s water agencies.
The QSA is a historic set of water agreements enabling California to live within its Colorado River apportionment, helping provide reliable water supplies for all users. Speakers at the commemoration event highlighted how the QSA continues to meet its goals while protecting agriculture and addressing the environment.
Learn more about the significance of the historic QSA in this video presentation.
QSA Partnership Called ‘Game Changer’
San Diego County Water Authority (Water Authority) Board Chair Mel Katz described the positive change in water management ushered in by the QSA as “a set of more than two dozen agreements that represent the dawn of a new era in water management in San Diego County and the Southwest – an era of water efficiency and supply reliability despite climate extremes.” Katz recognized the conservation efforts of the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and Imperial Valley farmers.
IID Board President Alex Cardenas reported Imperial County agriculture has conserved 7.5 million acre-feet over the 20 years of the agreement, while still enabling agriculture to succeed. The Valley’s agricultural economy has grown from $1.8 billion in 2003 to $2.6 billion in 2023. according to the latest crop reports.
Water Authority General Manager Dan Denham said the Water Authority, IID, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), and the Coachella Valley Water District continue to work together to ensure flexibility in how the river is managed and the needs of each agency are met. “We are getting to a place where we can be creative and do things differently.”
MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil called the QSA a great success and a great lesson. “We all came together. It was tough, but it was important.”
California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot congratulated the QSA partners on their achievement via a video message, calling it a “game changer” that remains as important today as it was 20 years ago. U.S. Senator Alex Padilla also offered his congratulations via a video message, crediting the leadership of all partners for their efforts to sustain the QSA.
San Diego Assemblyman David Alvarez told those gathered it was important to celebrate what was accomplished through the QSA. “The significance to me of the QSA is the listening that occurred,” he said, noting that the QSA brought agencies together to listen to each other as partners to create a set of mutually beneficial agreements.
Colorado River Board of California Vice Chair and Water Authority board member Jim Madaffer said the QSA provides a model of flexible river management, calling it a lesson “that we are so much better when working together than separately.”
Looking toward the challenges ahead on the river, water industry leaders noted the QSA must be a part of critical water discussions as agencies seek collaborative solutions to ensure the Colorado River can continue to be a reliable water source well into the future.