Every time someone turns on the tap in San Diego County, out flows the work of Peter MacLaggan.
MacLaggan was the point man in the construction of the Carlsbad desalination plant, a nearly $1 billion public-private partnership that since 2015 has supplied nearly 10 percent of the potable water consumed in the county.
Desalination relies on the virtually unlimited supply of water in the Pacific Ocean. It provides a safe, reliable source of local water in a region that for many years relied on supplies from hundreds of miles away and was subject to mechanical breakdowns, seasonal shortages and the whims of nature.
Craig Elitharp was seated on the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors on December 1, 2020, representing the Vallecitos Water District. Director Elitharp serves on the Legislation and Public Outreach and Water Planning and Environmental committees.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s draft 2020 Urban Water Management Plan was released for public review today. The plan highlights how regional investments in a “water portfolio approach” to supply management and a sustained emphasis on water-use efficiency mean that San Diego County will continue to have sufficient water supplies through the 2045 planning horizon — even during multiple dry years.
February 11, 2021 – Veteran water industry executive Tish Berge is joining the San Diego County Water Authority as assistant general manager, bringing experience from every aspect of water utility management to serve the region. Berge is currently general manager of the Sweetwater Authority, one of the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies. Berge starts her new role February 22 alongside Deputy General Manager Dan Denham and General Manager Sandra L. Kerl.
California’s increasingly volatile warming climate is making droughts more intense, and complicating water management. A just-launched commodity futures market for the state’s water provides a new tool for farmers, municipalities and other interested parties to ensure against water price shocks arising from drought-fueled shortages.
Taking a Wall Street approach to an essential natural resource has prompted both fear and hype. Will California experience a new Gold Rush in water? Will speculation boost the cost of water? Perhaps both the fear and the hype are unwarranted.
Describing federal investment in Western water management as “essential,” a coalition of more than 200 organizations has urged the incoming Biden administration and the new Congress to include water facilities in any future infrastructure or economic-recovery package. The coalition, including a number of national and regional organizations plus farm groups and water districts from 15 states, sent separate letters last week to President-elect Biden and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate.
In a letter to President-elect Joe Biden last week, the American Water Works Association urged the incoming administration to prioritize COVID-19 relief for water utilities and investment for the overall water infrastructure sector.
The letter, authored by association president Melissa Elliott, cites AWWA research that revenue shortfalls at U.S. drinking water utilities may reduce economic activity by $32.7 billion and cost 75,000 to 90,000 private-sector jobs. Drinking water utilities are expected to see revenues from customer payments drop by nearly $14 billion, according to AWWA estimates. This is the result of the elimination of water shutoffs for non-payment, increased late payments due to high unemployment, reductions in non-residential water demands, and the addition of fewer new customers due to economic stagnation.
The incoming Biden administration will lead efforts to craft a new water-management regime for the seven-state Colorado River Basin, and people involved in the process expect any changes to reflect the impact of climate change in the basin.
The Bureau of Reclamation, under the Interior Department, will lead negotiations to replace 13-year-old interim guidelines used to operate the basin’s two major reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The Interior secretary also manages the lower basin, containing all the water below Hoover Dam.
Revisions should reflect ecological values, water rights of American Indian tribes, and the need for more conservation measures by users in the seven states—Arizona, California and Nevada in the lower basin and Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the upper basin, those involved in the process said.
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.