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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.

New Study says Forecasters are Overestimating Future Demand for Water

Californians have grown used to the idea that water is a precious commodity, one that we risk running out of without conservation.

A new report by the Pacific Institute suggests Californians have learned to conserve so well that water forecasters need to rethink their approach to estimating future water demand.

Latest Survey of California Snow Pack Measures Below Normal

The last seasonal survey of snow in the Sierra Nevada confirms that California had a dry winter that will leave much-needed runoff levels below normal, authorities said Thursday.

The snow was only 1 ½ inches deep at the traditional manual measuring site at Phillips Station in the range east of Sacramento, and the water contained in it was equivalent to just a half-inch, which is 3 percent of the May average for the location, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

Sierra snow melt typically provides about 30% of the state’s water supply.

More broadly, 130 electronic snow sensors scattered throughout the Sierras indicated that California’s snow pack water equivalent is 37 percent of the May average.

Readings for April also were well below average.

“March and April storms brought needed snow to the Sierras, with the snow pack reaching its peak on April 9, however those gains were not nearly enough to offset a very dry January and February” and the last two weeks of higher temperatures have rapidly reduced the snow pack, said Sean de Guzman, chief of the department’s Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecast Section.

The snow measurements help in predicting runoff into reservoirs that will help meet California’s water demand in the summer and fall, the water agency said.

At the moment, reservoirs are in good shape, with the six largest close to or even above their historical averages. Lake Shasta, California’s largest surface reservoir, is currently more than 80% full, authorities said.

Driving Water Conservation

As California approaches what could be another drought, water utilities are eager to find new ways of curbing water demand. Stanford researchers have developed a machine learning model that detects unexpected water-use consumption patterns – data water utilities can use to inform resource planning and water conservation campaigns.

Western Groups Push For Water Infrastructure

More than 100 Western water and agricultural organizations are urging Congress to include rebuilding and improving water infrastructure in any construction legislation it considers. The group sent a letter March 25 to key committees and Western senators, saying investments are needed to meet current and future water demands. The group is led by the Western Growers Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, Family Farm Alliance and the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. The group noted that President Donald Trump has said rebuilding highways, roads and bridges is an area both political parties should be able to work on together. The Democratic party’s list of priorities includes an ambitious infrastructure program.

Efficiencies Lower Long-Term Water Demand Forecast For San Diego Region

Updated water-use projections for the San Diego region through 2040 are substantially lower than earlier forecasts due to efficiencies that have become standard practice at homes and businesses countywide. That’s good news because it signals the potential for lower spending on water supply development and delivery in coming decades compared to previous forecasts.

 

How Much Water Should California Cities Use? New Data Could Help

The relatively dry 2017-18 winter in California resurfaced recent memories of drought conservation mandates. From 2013-16, urban water utilities complied with voluntary, then mandatory, water use limits as part of Executive Order B-37-16. Urban water utilities met a statewide 25 percent conservation target, helping the state weather severe drought. Winter rains in 2016-17 led to a reprieve from mandatory conservation. Freed from statewide requirements, urban water agencies ended mandatory cutbacks by meeting “stress tests” that included several years of secured water supplies. A useful outcome of the 2013-17 drought period was long-needed reporting data on monthly urban water use and conservation.