Regional agency OKs initial drought quotas
In the event that a continued drought causes cutbacks of San Diego County Water Authority (CWA) supplies, the agency will use a percentage formula to allocate water to its member agencies.
The unanimous CWA board vote Feb. 26 utilizes a three-year municipal and industrial (M&I) demand average for each CWA member agency while making adjustments for demand due to water conservation, loss of local supply from groundwater and surface reservoirs, and efforts taken to develop reliable local supplies.
The Ramona Municipal Water District, a CWA member, would be allocated 1.49 percent of the CWA’s total imported supply.
“This action is another formal step in preparation for allocating water this summer to M&I customers,” said CWA Director of Water Resources Ken Weinberg.
The CWA’s drought management plan includes various drought stages. In December 2007, the CWA started Stage 2, which includes voluntary conservation programs and supply enhancement such as transfer agreements.
If the CWA board deems that mandatory cutbacks are necessary in 2009, it will go to Stage 3, which limits imported M&I water supply for each member agency to an allocation percentage. The percentages were developed using historic base period M&I demands for fiscal years 2004-05 through 2006-07, and member agencies provided local supply projections for 2009 to compute the appropriate adjustments.
The M&I demands were revised to reflect the recent Metropolitan Water District (MWD) decision to phase out the Interim Agricultural Water Program (IAWP) for farmers and ranchers and allow IAWP customers to opt out beginning in January 2009. Former IAWP customers will be converted to the M&I firm demand.
IAWP provides surplus Metropolitan Water District of Southern California water to agricultural customers at a discounted rate, but IAWP conditions require a reduction of up to 30 percent before starting any mandatory reductions to M&I customers. The 30 percent reduction has been in effect for IAWP customers since 2007.
A separate CWA board action Feb. 26 approved an update to the regional IAWP reduction plan that reflects customers opting out of the IAWP for 2009, strategies for implementing deeper cuts, if necessary, and details on coordination between wholesale agencies and retail customers.
Approximately 56 percent of the CWA’s IAWP accounts have opted out, accounting for 49,232 acre-feet of pre-cut allocation or 50 percent of the IAWP volume.
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