Local supply projects could reduce demand for imported water by as much as 1.2 million acre-feet by 2035

Southern California water agencies have plans to potentially develop between 400,000 and 1.2 million acre-feet local water supply by 2035.  These plans will have a direct impact on future demand for water from the Bay-Delta, helping achieve the dual goals established in the 2009 water bill package.

The data was collected from the Urban Water Management plans of the 26 member agencies of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The San Diego County Water Authority compiled this data into a map and a list so that the public could more readily visualize the impact of the planned projects on future demand for imported water.

List of water projects in Southern California.

List of water projects in Southern California.

To give some perspective, a million acre-feet is 1.6 times Los Angeles’ annual water use. It is enough water to irrigate all the grain produced in California annually. It is enough water to satisfy the household needs of 6.7 million Californians.  (Source: The Pacific Institute)

Yet, Metropolitan – Southern California’s  water wholesaler and  the biggest buyer of water from the State Water Project –   has not considered many of these  projects in its decision-making about the necessary size, scope and cost of a Bay-Delta facility.  For example, the San Diego County Water Authority recently announced plans to buy up to 56,000 acre feet of desalinated seawater beginning in 2017 – but this demand reduction has not been acknowledged by Metropolitan.  This is enough water to meet the annual needs of 110,00 families.

Planning for a Bay-Delta project that ratepayers will be asked to pay for should logically take into account the reality that most water agencies in Southern California are planning to decrease their imported water purchases from Metropolitan, and thus, in turn, lessen the demand for water from the Bay-Delta.

Further, there are critical questions that haven’t been answered — and must be answered — to know what size, scope and cost of a Bay-Delta project makes the most sense, including:

  •  What is the real demand in Southern California for water imported from the Bay-Delta?
  •  What size project are agencies willing to pay for, as demonstrated by firm, long-term financial commitments by those who will benefit from it?  Metropolitan acknowledges that its member agencies are not obligated to purchase or use any of the water available from Metropolitan.  If Metropolitan’s member agencies continue to reduce their purchases of imported water from Metropolitan, as they already are doing, who will be left to pay Metropolitan’s share of the Bay-Delta costs?