San Diego County Water Authority And its 24 Member Agencies

Reliable Water Supplies Make San Diego Region Well-Prepared for 2024

October 2, 2023 – Thanks to a decades-long supply diversification strategy and continued efficient use of water across the region, the San Diego County Water Authority announced today that the region has reliable supplies to meet demands in Water Year 2024, which started Oct. 1.

Hydrologists use Oct. 1 to begin measuring the snow and rain that will help carry water users through dry summer months the following calendar year. This fall, El Niño conditions continue to strengthen and could bring above-average precipitation to Southern California. In a recent El Niño forecast by NOAA, there is a greater than 95% chance that El Niño continues across the Northern Hemisphere through the winter into 2024. The chance of a “strong” El Niño is 71%.

“San Diego County continues to have the water necessary to support our $268 billion economy and quality of life for 3.3 million residents,” said Mel Katz, chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors. “We are grateful for the reprieve from drought – but we recognize that dry times will return, probably sooner than later. We are ready when they do.”

Despite significant rain and snow over the past 12 months, longer-term trends indicate a hotter, drier Southwest climate. Across the arid Southwest, water agencies are spending billions of dollars to increase water supply reliability as they balance the costs of investments against the costs of not having enough water for homes and businesses.

Long-term investments and water-use efficiency sustain region

Since the early 1990s, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have made major investments in supply reliability, including in the landmark conservation-based 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement, which provides over half of the region’s water, the building of the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant, and in the maintaining and upgrading of water infrastructure. That strategy has paid off during dry times. Just one year ago, the situation was dramatically different in other parts of Southern California, as millions of residents were reduced to health and safety water rations – though regional investments meant the San Diego region was spared.

Compared to recent years, the new water year begins with improved supply conditions at the Water Authority’s two imported water sources – the Colorado River and the Sierra Nevada. On the Colorado River, a good water year and conservation efforts raised storage levels, prompting the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to declare that California will not face supply restrictions through 2024.

Meanwhile, in Northern California, Lake Oroville and San Luis Reservoir – two key State Water Project reservoirs – had 2.76 million more acre-feet in storage combined at the end of August 2023 compared to the prior August. (An acre-foot is approximately 325,900 gallons, or enough water to meet the annual needs of three typical single-family households.)

In the San Diego region, water users also benefit from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, as well as increased water storage levels in many local reservoirs. At the end of August 2023, member agency local storage was up 137,400 acre-feet, or 80%, compared to the same time in 2022. Meanwhile, the Water Authority had approximately 100,000 acre-feet available in emergency and carryover storage. This represents emergency storage for up to six-months and carryover storage to minimize or avoid potential supply cutbacks during periods of drought or other supply shortage events.

For information on water-efficient programs and rebates, go to:

This Reservoir on the Sacramento River Has Been Planned for Decades. What’s Taking So Long?

Last century, California built dozens of large dams, creating the elaborate reservoir system that supplies the bulk of the state’s drinking and irrigation water. Now state officials and supporters are ready to build the next one.

The Sites Reservoir — planned in a remote corner of the western Sacramento Valley for at least 40 years — has been gaining steam and support since 2014, when voters approved Prop. 1, a water bond that authorized $2.7 billion for new storage projects.

Seven New Members Join SDCWA Board

Seven new members of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors have been seated.

The newly appointed members are expanding the agency’s leadership and policy making skills during a critical period for water in the west region, said San Diego County Water Authority board chairman Mel Katz.

August is Coming. Prepare for Climate Calamity

Lake Siskiyou is beautiful this time of year.

About 200 miles north of Sacramento, the artificial reservoir — formed by a dam on the Sacramento River — is ringed by quiet beaches that offer a cool respite from triple-digit heat. The views of Mt. Shasta are spectacular. When I visited last week, I saw double-crested cormorants, ospreys and great blue herons soaring over the water and ducklings swimming with their mother.

Calipatria Residents Assured No Current Water Shortage

Golden State Water Company customers learned drought conditions in the state affect local water usage during Calipatria’s city council meeting Tuesday evening.

Perry Dahlstrom, general manager of the mountain district for the water company, provided updates on water supplies to residents via Zoom.

“The current conditions in Calipatria and Niland are okay,” Dahlstrom said. “We have water supply from IID” (Imperial Irrigation District).

Land Fallowing Could Reach More Than 690,000 Acres Due to Drought

The lack of available water supplies could increase the amount of agricultural land fallowing than previously estimated. Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, said that more is needed to ensure ample water availability moving forward. The state is looking at a significant economic impact due to dismal water supplies, which could have even further repercussions.

California to Decide Fate of Controversial Desalination Plant Amid Brutal Drought

California officials are poised to decide the fate of a controversial desalination plant planned along its southern coast, in a vote that comes as the American west battles an increasingly perilous drought.

California water use leapt 19% in March, amid one of the driest months on record. After more than a decade of debate, the California coastal commission on Thursday will finally vote on a proposal for a $1.4bn desalination plant in Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles.

One Colorado Farmer Is Going Against the Grain to Use Less Water. It’s Working.

On a chilly morning 5 miles north of Fruita, Lowell King, standing at the edge of a cornfield, reaches down, grabs a clump of dirt, and starts tearing at the soil with his meaty fingers. King eventually points to a tiny white spot in the dirt. “Anytime you can see stuff almost like that mold right there, that’s fungi,” he says. “And there’s all this other good stuff, and these roots intertwined; that’s what increases your water infiltration.”

King, who’s been farming in the Grand Valley since 2005, is illustrating an important principle of a concept known as regenerative agriculture — a technique he says could help Colorado stretch its dwindling water supplies. But adopting that philosophy also requires rejecting deeply entrenched conventional farming methods, such as tilling fields to prepare the ground for planting.

Storms Restore Marin Reservoirs to Above-Average Levels

In a stunning turnaround, Marin County water supplies that were once at risk of going dry next year have refilled to above-average levels following a series of unusually early downpours.

Marin water officials are reevaluating some drought restrictions and penalties that were adopted earlier this year, especially with more rain in the forecast this week.

Managing Water Stored for the Environment During Drought

Storing water in reservoirs is important for maintaining freshwater ecosystem health and protecting native species. Stored water also is essential for adapting to the changing climate, especially warming and drought intensification. Yet, reservoir operators often treat environmental objectives as a constraint, rather than as a priority akin to water deliveries for cities and farms. Reservoir management becomes especially challenging during severe droughts when surface water supplies are scarce, and urban and agricultural demands conflict with water supplies needed to maintain healthy waterways and wetlands. In times of drought, most freshwater ecosystems suffer.