More than 80 people attended “San Diego’s New Water Realty, South County Water Forum,” a recent meeting of business leaders and representatives from local and regional water agencies discussing the drought and the future of the South County water supply.
Speakers at the forum, held Sept. 3, included: Mark Watton, General Manager, Otay Water District; Jim Smyth, General Manager, Sweetwater Water Authority; Cathy Peroni, Public Utilities Legislative Director, City of San Diego; Garry Hofer, Director of Operations, Southern Division, California American Water; Dennis Cushman, Assistant General Manager, San Diego County Water Authority; Carlos Michelon, Water Conservation Specialist, San Diego County Water Authority.
The forum’s supporting organizations included the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR), South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC), Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce and San Diego County Water Authority’s Water Smart program.
Topics discussed at the forum included: South County’s future water supply, and reassurances there will be enough to continue the region’s planned growth; how the drought has impacted local businesses; water rate increases for institutional and business users; how state mandates and recent legal challenges impact water use and pricing.
Attendees heard the water prices will likely increase, but minor investments in conservation efforts, including sustainable landscapes and shutoff irrigation during rain and 48 hours after rainfall, can equal major water savings.
Watton said Otay customers have collectively reduced water usage by 27 percent sine 2007. He also said the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) set Otay’s reduction target at 20 percent without taking into account Otay’s investments in recycled water infrastructure, which saved 4,228 acre-feet in FY 2015 (enough water to serve 9,500 families for one year).
Watton also said the proposed Rosarito Beach Desalination Plant will be built adjacent an existing power plant on a 50-acre site. It will use existing ocean intake and cooling water from the power plant. While the majority of the water will be for Tijuana and Rosarito Beach customers, excess water will be provided to Otay Water District. Construction is expected to start next year.
Sweetwater officials said the SWRCB set its reduction at 12 percent, the lowest cutback in San Diego County. Also discussed was the expansion of its groundwater facility costing $42 million. The expansion will increase local water reliability by nearly 40 percent and save Sweetwater $1.4 million in imported water purchases its first year in operation.
San Diego County Water Authority officials said its customers have reduced per capita water use by 39 percent since 1990. Also, the Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project, a $1 billion investment, is expected to be online by fall 2015. Producing 56,000 acre-feet per year, it will be the largest seawater desalination facility in North America.
Here are the links to the Power Point Presentations