The San Diego region’s water supply outlook for 2012 is much better than it was a year ago, but residents and businesses should still make efficient water use a part of daily life, the San Diego County Water Authority reported Thursday.
Water authority directors received a report on water supply and demand conditions at its monthly meeting on Dec. 8. Staff attributed the improved supply conditions to several factors:
• A wet winter in 2010-11 that led to substantial improvements in reservoir levels locally, statewide and on the Colorado River.
• Regional water use has remained below pre-drought levels in 2011, enabling water agencies to better manage available supplies.
“Mother Nature and continuing wise water use by our residents, businesses and agricultural customers has helped lead to our best water supply situation in several years,” said Water Authority Board Chair Michael T. Hogan. “I commend our water customers for continuing to use water wisely, even after shortage-related mandatory water use restrictions were lifted this spring. However, it will be important for all of us to continue to use water wisely as a part of everyday life. We are still at the end of a long water supply pipeline, and a return to dry conditions or ongoing regulatory challenges in the Bay-Delta can threaten our supplies again.”
Water storage on the Colorado River, where San Diego County gets more than half of its water supply, has increased 5.7 million acre-feet this year, according to the water authority. An acre-foot is 325,900 gallons, considered enough to supply two average single-family households of four for a year. Meanwhile, key State Water Project reservoirs in Northern California, the source for about 20 percent of the region’s water supply, added nearly 2 million acre-feet of storage in 2011 and are above their average levels for this time of year.
Storage levels in Southern California have improved as well. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the water authority’s largest imported water supplier, projects its storage reserves, which include facilities inside and outside of Southern California, will hit a historic high of 2.4 million acre-feet at the end of 2011. In San Diego County, local reservoir storage rose to approximately 342,800 acre-feet in November, a 19 percent increase compared to a year ago.
Water use in the region from January through October 2011 has increased about 2 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Regional water use has stayed basically flat since mandatory water use restrictions ended in late April, increasing about 1 percent from May through October 2011 compared to the same six-month period in 2010.
The full water supply outlook report is available online at www.sdcwa.org/sites/default/files/files/board/2011-monthly/2011_12_08/Boardpacket-2011-12-08.pdf (Water Planning Committee, page 139).