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California's Water Worries May Not Affect San Diego

A view of the Sacramento delta from the air on Sept. 19, 2017
Erik Anderson
A view of the Sacramento delta from the air on Sept. 19, 2017

California could be facing a dry summer after two dry winters, but there shouldn’t be a huge impact on local supplies.

California water officials have already cut in half the amount of water they expect to deliver from the state water project.

That could be a major cut for central valley farmers and other water users that rely heavily on the Sacramento Delta for their water.


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“Planting crops and other decisions that are dictated by water supply are made early in the year, so early warnings are vital,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director for the Water Board’s Division of Water Rights. “These letters give water users time to prepare and help minimize the impacts of reduced supplies on businesses, farms and homes.”

The state water project, however, only accounts for about 10% of the San Diego region’s water supply.

In a recent report, San Diego County Water Authority, or SDCWA, officials said the region has sufficient supplies through 2045. That includes examining supply under a number of possible situations.

“We have sufficient water supplies whether it’s a normal year, which means normal rainfall,” said Jeff Stephenson, a water resource manager at SDCWA. "A single dry year. Or a period of five straight dry years. Under those scenarios we have more than sufficient water supplies to meet the needs of the region.”


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Stephenson credits two decades of efforts to diversify water sources, including contracts for water transfers with Imperial County and the Carlsbad desalination plant.

There is also work being done in San Diego County.

“The smaller retail agencies throughout the region develop more local supplies, such as recycled water,” Stephenson said. “The city of San Diego’s pure water program comes online in the future, all those supplies really make the region much more able to withstand drought periods like they may be having up in northern California.”

San Diego only gets about 10% of its water from the Sacramento Delta.

The region’s largest source of water is the Colorado River, which accounts for about 70% of the local drinking water supply.

California’s Water Worries May Not Affect San Diego
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.