LOS ANGELES–(COMMERCIAL THREAD) – As drought continues to strain the state’s water supply, the Metropolitan Water District today took new steps to ensure Southern Californians have the water they need.
The actions, approved today by the Metropolitan board of directors, include new investments in infrastructure and water exchanges with other agencies that will allow Colorado River water and stored supplies to be more easily distributed throughout the region. The strategies will preserve the State Water Project’s limited supplies for areas, including parts of Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, which are heavily dependent on water from this system.
“We are entering the third year of drought in California. And while we hope conditions improve this winter, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the entire region has reliable water if the drought persists, ”said Metropolitan Board Chair Gloria D. Gray.
Southern California on average obtains 30 percent of its water from the Northern Sierra through the State Water Project. But the drought has slowed down those deliveries to a trickle. While much of the region may turn to water from the Colorado River or its own local supplies, some communities are not physically connected to the supply from the Colorado River and have limited local supplies, making them many more faced with the severe drought conditions of the state.
Under an agreement approved today with the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, the agency will make available to these communities up to 7,000 acre-feet of its supplies from the San Bernardino Water Project. state in early 2022. In exchange, Metropolitan will later return these SWP supplies to Valley. Piece. Metropolitan will also pay the cost of switching the Valley District to more groundwater, making other SWP supplies available. In addition, Valley District will provide up to 1,000 acre-feet per month of local groundwater to Metropolitan for delivery to communities dependent on the state’s water project. Metropolitan will cover the costs of receiving water and returning a similar amount in the future.
Together, this agreement could provide enough water to serve more than 50,000 homes by 2022.
“We really appreciate the collaborative partnership we have with Metropolitan,” commented Heather Dyer, Valley District CEO / General Manager. “The water wholesale agencies in our region need to work together strategically to make every drop of water count during these very difficult water conditions. We look forward to working together in creative ways to help each other where possible. ”
Metropolitan’s board of directors also approved an agreement with the San Diego County Water Authority under which Metropolitan will purchase 4,200 acre-feet of groundwater that SDCWA has stored in the Semitropic Water Bank in Kern County. This water can be delivered to SWP dependent communities who need it because the semi-tropical water bank is located along the state project system. In addition, Metropolitan will lease 5,000 acre-feet of SDCWA’s “withdrawal capacity” – a function of groundwater pumping and distribution size – allowing Metropolitan to withdraw more of its own groundwater. stored in the semi-tropical water bank. Together, the agreement provides an additional 9,200 acre-feet of water to SWP-dependent areas – enough to serve nearly 30,000 homes for a year.
Seeking a longer-term solution, Metropolitan’s board of directors also voted today to advance infrastructure improvements that would enable water stored in its Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County and , potentially, water from the Colorado River, to be transferred to some of these state water projects. areas that currently cannot receive this water source. The action allows project planning and preliminary design to begin on three different projects, which cost anywhere from $ 10 million to $ 26 million. Construction on two of the projects could start by the middle of next year.
Today’s actions build on measures taken by Metropolitan earlier this year to bring greater reliability to SWP dependent areas, including infrastructure improvements and partnerships with Metropolitan member agencies to switch to use Colorado River water instead of state project water, leaving it to others.
“This drought has revealed some system improvements we can make to provide more equal water reliability to all of Southern California,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil. “We are taking short, medium and long term action through our One Water approach, and we are grateful to our partners for their help. ”
Hagekhalil stressed that today’s board actions and today’s precipitation don’t mean people should stop conserving.
“These new investments and partnerships will help improve reliability across the region. And the storms hitting our state this week will certainly help, too. But many of our state reservoirs are very low, and we all need to continue to use water as efficiently as possible. It is only by working together that we will achieve this, ”he said. “This includes our state and federal partners. We need their financial support to accelerate water efficiency, recycling and storage projects. Climate change is creating a new normal, and although we have done a lot, we need to do more, working together as one.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water to 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and northern California to supplement local supplies and helps its members develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and management programs.