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What the Current Dry Spell Means for the Long-Term Local Water Supply

It’s been four years since a protracted drought had Southern Californians taking four-minute showers and turning off the tap during tooth brushing.

Now, with no rain forecast for the foreseeable future and fires once again raging in the southland, the prospect of another drought is looming large, along with its implications.

Opinion: Will Others Follow SNWA’s Lead on Conservation?

Water conservation isn’t cheap. But it’s not as pricey as 300-mile pipelines and water grabs.

The SNWA also approved a rate increase that will likely result in about a $10 hike in residential water bills by 2026 in order to pay for current and future projects.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Announces New Smart Leak Detector Rebate Program

Vista, Calif. — Vista Irrigation District is now offering a smart leak detector rebate program. Residential customers will have more opportunities to save water and manage water use under this new program approved by the district’s Board of Directors.

WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program Benefits San Elijo HOA

A major landscape makeover is helping a San Diego County neighborhood save money during these uncertain economic times. The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program helps qualified landscape contractors as well as large homeowners associations, save money and improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes by retrofitting irrigation devices.

County Renews IRWM Agreement

The Integrated Regional Water Management agreement between San Diego County, the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority was scheduled to expire Dec. 31, but the IRWM will be extended for at least another five years.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 5-0, Wednesday, Oct. 28, to approve a new memorandum of understanding with the city and the County Water Authority. That agreement will cover the period from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2025.

2020 Urban Water Management Plan Underway

An update to the plan for meeting the region’s long-term water needs is under development by the San Diego County Water Authority, in collaboration with its 24 member agencies. Once completed, the Water Authority’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan will serve as the long-term guide to ensure a reliable water supply that sustains the region’s 3.3 million residents and its $245 billion economy.

The Water Authority Board of Directors’ Water Planning and Environment Committee is holding a special online meeting at 1:30 p.m. on November 12 for an update on the developing plan.

2020 Urban Water Managment Plan

2020 Urban Water Management Plan Underway

An update to the plan for meeting the region’s long-term water needs is under development by the San Diego County Water Authority, in collaboration with its 24 member agencies. Once completed, the Water Authority’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan will serve as the long-term guide to ensure a reliable water supply that sustains the region’s 3.3 million residents and its $245 billion economy.

The Water Authority Board of Directors’ Water Planning and Environment Committee is holding a special online meeting at 1:30 p.m. on November 12 for an update on the developing plan.

At the meeting, Water Authority staff will provide an overview of the plan and share preliminary water demand projections for 2025 to 2045. Click here for more information about the Board meeting and agenda which includes an extensive overview of the planning process and a link to the webcast.

Planning process is “critical” 

Urban water suppliers in California are required to adopt and submit Urban Water Management Plans every five years. The Water Authority’s 2020 plan will include information on multiple subjects, including a baseline demand forecast, water-use efficiency savings, imported and local water supplies, a supply reliability assessment, scenario planning, and a shortage contingency analysis.

The Water Authority started the planning process in January 2019 by coordinating with its 24 member agencies to create a long-range baseline water demand forecast.

“This planning process is a critical part of meeting the long-range water supply needs of the San Diego region for both normal and dry year weather conditions,” said Kelley Gage, director of water resources for the Water Authority. “As San Diego faces increasingly unpredictable climate patterns, new state planning requirements will prepare the Water Authority for rare scenarios to continue to be a reliable and dependable wholesale water supplier to the region.”

Urban Water Management Plan elements

Through careful planning and the implementation of a water portfolio approach, the agency has increased the region’s water supply reliability through diversification and innovation.

A draft of the 2020 plan is expected to be released to the Water Authority Board of Directors and the public in January 2021 for a 60-day public comment period. The Board is expected to consider adoption of the final plan in April 2021. The 2020 plans must be submitted to the state by July 1, 2021.

Basic elements of Urban Water Management Plans include:

  • Assessment of the reliability of water supply sources over a 20-year planning time frame
  • Description of demand management measures and a water shortage contingency plan
  • Discussion of the development of imported and local water supplies

New state planning requirements

The California Urban Water Management Planning Act is a part of the California Water Code and requires urban water suppliers in the state to adopt and submit an updated plan to the state Department of Water Resources every 5 years.

State legislation passed in 2018 established new requirements for urban water management plans, which now must include a water shortage contingency plan and drought risk assessment methodology that compares available water supplies with projected water demands. Under these requirements, water suppliers must now plan for a dry period that lasts for five consecutive years, an increase from the previous requirement of three years.

Urban water suppliers are defined as agencies that provide water for municipal purposes to more than 3,000 customers or supply more than 3,000 acre-feet of water annually. The Water Authority and the majority of its member agencies fit this definition.

Vallecitos Water District Helps San Marcos Coffee Farmer Brew Success

San Diego County agriculture is well-known for citrus and avocados. Kyle Rosa is counting on coffee joining this list. Rosa, owner of Bluetail Coffee Grove, started growing coffee on a 2.5-acre farm in San Marcos last year. After 15 years in the finance industry, Rosa and his wife moved from San Francisco to start their new venture. The new farmer quickly turned to the Vallecitos Water District for help establishing smart water use and efficient systems to irrigate his six different specific types of coffee.

Helix Water District Honors Student Artists

The pandemic has changed the way many students are attending school, but the health emergency did not stop more than 150 local kids from taking part in the annual Helix Water District art contest.

The water district honored 10 student artists for their winning “Water Is Life” posters. The district held a virtual awards ceremony during its Oct. 28 board meeting.

San Marcos coffee farmer Kyle Rosa walks through his 2.5 acre property. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Vallecitos Water District Helps San Marcos Coffee Farmer Brew Success

San Diego County agriculture is well-known for citrus and avocados. Kyle Rosa is counting on coffee joining this list.

Rosa, owner of Bluetail Coffee Grove, started growing coffee on a 2.5-acre farm in San Marcos last year. After 15 years in the finance industry, Rosa and his wife moved from San Francisco to start their new venture. The new farmer quickly turned to the Vallecitos Water District for help establishing smart water use and efficient systems to irrigate his six different specific types of coffee.

The Vallecitos Water District offers a free agricultural irrigation audit to ensure its farming customers are using water aligning best with their crop’s specific needs and water-efficiency standards.

“No one has ever done this in the continental United States,” said Rosa. “To be able to be a pioneer and work on something that has never been done and to learn from mistakes is exciting.”

Agriculture audit gauges efficient water use

Coffee farmer Kyle Rosa (left) and Lance Andersen examine irrigation emitters at his San Marcos farm. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Coffee farmer Kyle Rosa (left) and Lance Andersen examine irrigation emitters at his San Marcos farm. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Lance Andersen, agricultural program manager from Mission Resource Conservation District, performed the audit. MRCD provides free agricultural evaluations to farmers and growers through a partnership with Vallecitos and the San Diego County Water Authority. The agricultural audit examined 2,000 of the Bluetail Coffee Groves trees and 4,000 emitters to see how much water is currently used.

Auditors study how evenly water is flowing across the planting area, so growers can make informed decisions on irrigation scheduling and water management. Post-audit, farmers receive a Google image to assist in the best placement for soil moisture sensor stations to monitor irrigation in real time.

“Lance has been able to give us some pointers as he walked through the farm,” said Rosa. “We have some areas of improvement to add swales to retain water when it rains on our slopes and to prevent soil erosion.”

MRCD also provided information about financial assistance available for the installation of the soil moisture sensors.

Vallecitos Water District assisted Rosa in securing an agricultural rate for his irrigation. He worked with Chris Robbins, Vallecitos Water District supervisor of public information/conservation to start the process.

“He could not have made it any easier for me,” said Rosa.

Bluetail Coffee Grove is an organic farm. Rosa’s farm is undergoing the organic certification process, which takes three years.

Coffee farm plans for eco-tourism

Kyle Rosa and Lance Andersen perform a walk through as part of an agricultural irrigation audit. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Kyle Rosa and Lance Andersen perform a walk through as part of an agricultural irrigation audit. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Rosa has ambitious plans to put San Marcos on the coffee map.

“Coffee has a similarity to wine, where the method of creating a cup of coffee is so diverse and so labor-intensive,” explained Rosa. “When you finally get a cup of coffee, everybody has different tastes. Being able to produce those different tastes for a variety of people while having complex notes within our coffee is really what we are striving for.”

Rosa says he hopes his initial business model will work, allowing him to open his farm to eco-tourism.

“The goal is to expand the coffee to have an eco-tourism set up at the farm, where we can roast and try coffee right here and pull the cherries right off the tree and taste the coffee right here for yourself right in beautiful San Marcos, California.”

Before then, Rosa will open a retail store, Breakers Coffee + Wine in the Del Mar Heights area, expected in Spring 2021.