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San Diego County Water Authority Asks State To Change New Regulations

The regional water agency called on state water officials to change proposed regulations that would punish people and agencies that have already been conserving water.

The San Diego County Water Authority called Thursday on state water officials to change proposed regulations that would punish people and agencies that have already been conserving water and investing in new supplies.

The draft rules by the state Water Resources Board were released this week after Gov. Jerry Brown called for an overall reduction of 25 percent in water use across California, in response to the ongoing drought and warmer temperatures.

"The Water Authority strongly supports additional conservation and the governor's goals are laudable — but they haven't been translated yet into proposed regulations that are equitable, protect our economy or advance sensible long-term water policies," said Mark Weston, chairman of the Water Authority's Board of Directors.

RELATED: San Diego County’s Water Use Soars Amid Drought

"The Water Authority has met every objective in California's Water Action Plan, which promotes regional self-reliance, and yet the proposed water- use mandates ignore the investments that this region has made to diversify our water supplies and protect our $206 billion economy," Weston said.

He said the current approach "will stifle economic activity and undermine the long-term ability of water agencies to invest in new supplies" if ratepayers aren't allowed to benefit from investments they made.

Local agencies that receive water from the Water Authority would have to cut back 20 percent to 35 percent under the proposed restrictions.

The agency pointed out that San Diego County uses 12 percent less water than in 1990, despite a population gain of 700,000 and an 80 percent jump in gross domestic product. Investments have also been made to acquire water from the Colorado River, expand the San Vicente Reservoir and build a large desalination plant in Carlsbad.

The Water Authority wants the state water board to give credit to local water agencies that invested in the desalination plant.

Weston said he met with the governor and state water officials on Wednesday. The Water Authority will file a formal response to the proposals by Monday's deadline, he said.

State water officials are scheduled to take action on the conservation regulations May 5, and they would take effect June 1.

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