News stories by national and regional media outlets highlighted the investments by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies to create a plentiful water supply for the region, helping to weather dry times like the current drought.
The New York Times, Spectrum News 1, The Wall Street Journal and Wired Magazine are among several news organizations that have reported on the region’s water supply projects, current and future, that ensure the 3.3 million residents of the county won’t be left high and dry during times of drought. The news stories also recognize the successful efforts by the region’s residents to significantly reduce water-wasting practices by embracing a “conservation ethic.”
Water supply in dry times
California-based reporter Jill Cowan visited the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant and the San Vicente Reservoir, among other locations, for her article in The New York Times. The news story covers regional water supply projects and investments made by the Water Authority and its member agencies to ensure San Diego County would not be stuck “at the end of the pipe” during periods of drought.
“There are no silver bullets anywhere,” said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, who noted San Diego’s strides. “They’re definitely in the upper echelon of these creative approaches.”
Chula Vista resident and Sweetwater Authority customer Paul Rodriquez was highlighed in the story as one of many county homeowners who are WaterSmart: Conserving water by yanking out turf for drought-tolerant landscaping and using water-efficient fixtures indoors.
Spectrum News 1 Reporter Sarah Pilla wrote about the region’s water supply history and how an historic drought led to investments creating a diverse water supply portfolio:
Back in the drought of the ’90s, 95% of San Diego’s water came from one source, and they faced 30% cuts for 13 months.
“Of course being at the end of a pipeline, when there’s little water available, you are at high risk. So, our community came together and said let’s diversify,” Kerl said.
Fast-forward 30 years later, and the San Diego County Water Authority has multiple streams of water sources in its portfolio, including the groundbreaking Carlsbad Desalination Plant that utilizes ocean water to provide the region with about 10% of its drinking water.
Video and story: https://bit.ly/3DWFM1F
Diverse portfolio of resources
Wired Magazine writer Matt Simon focused on the science of water recycling and the Pure Water San Diego project.
If that all sounds like a rather convoluted way to get drinking water, that’s because the American West is facing a rather convoluted climate crisis. San Diego—and the rest of Southern California—have historically relied on water from Northern California and the Colorado River. But they’ve always been at the end of the line. The river hydrates 40 million other people in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, and it is withering under a historic drought, a harbinger of even worse water scarcity to come as the climate warms.
So San Diego has to figure out how to do more with less water. The Pure Water program aims to provide more than 40 percent of the city’s water from local sources by the year 2035 by reusing water recycled from homes and businesses. (That means water that has flowed through sinks, showers, toilets, and washing machines.) “We’re diversifying the portfolio,” says Todd Gloria, San Diego’s mayor. “We’re heavily dependent upon water that comes from very far away, and that’s a problem that we have to address.”
Read more: https://bit.ly/30xU8qF
If you're able to recycle water on a large scale, you’ve got a powerful hedge against drought.
“That's an extraordinarily reliable supply, being able to access that flow of wastewater, clean it up, and then use it to offset the need for other supplies." https://t.co/huni1ygAsN
— WIRED (@WIRED) October 18, 2021
Dry Times and Cutbacks
Reporter Jim Carlton with The Wall Street Journal, visited San Diego County earlier in 2021, reporting on the differences in water supply and drought conditions in California: “California’s Drought Leads to Cutbacks in Marin County but Not in San Diego”
The pain of a two-year drought drying up the American West isn’t being felt evenly across the country’s most populous state.
That is because Southern California water agencies have for decades invested in new ways to diversify their supplies and recycle what they get, say people who study and work with water in the West. In Northern California, meanwhile, a history of more plentiful rain and snow meant many communities were less prepared for the latest drought and now more homes and businesses must cut back.
“Plenty of water”
The Southern California News Group also published an editorial, “SoCal’s water planning offers lesson for state” on October 19:
It’s beyond ironic that the driest, most-populated parts of California are in reasonably good shape whereas the less-populated rainiest parts of the state are in dire straits. San Diego, for instance, had so much water during the last drought that it had to release some of it from its reservoirs. It has plenty of water during this current drought.
Statewide Drought Emergency Declared
California extended its drought emergency statewide on Tuesday.
“It’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.https://t.co/6t7X3rzeen
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 20, 2021
(Editor’s note: This story was updated on October 20. The Sweetwater Authority and the City of San Diego are two of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)