Water allocation tightening


The state’s decision to severely limit water deliveries to Southern California next year means San Diego County residents need to increase conservation efforts immediately, officials said last week.

The California Department of Water Resources allocated 15 percent of what water agencies requested for the next year.

“This initial allocation means water supplies statewide are approaching record-low levels,’” said Fern Steiner, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s board.

“It is likely that next year we will have less water available to meet the needs of San Diego County,’” Steiner said. “It is imperative that residents, businesses and public agencies redouble their efforts to reduce water use whenever possible, especially outdoors.’”

The allocation announced on Oct. 29 is the second-lowest for Southern California in the history of the State Water Project, said Lester Snow, director of the state Department of Water Resources.

‘Clock ticking’

“The uncertainty of precipitation patterns due to global warming and deteriorating conditions in the Delta, California’s main water hub, demand immediate action to enhance our ecosystems and keep our economy productive in the 21st century,” said Snow. “The governor has sounded the wake-up call and the clock is ticking.”

Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California - the agency from which San Diego County buys most of its water - said the agency is preparing for the possibility of water shortages and rationing throughout 2009.

“While this low initial State Water Project allocation was anticipated, it still sends a solemn message up and down California - we all must immediately reduce water use to stretch available supplies,’” Kightlinger said.

New reality

“If the region faces a shortage in 2009, the district has in place an allocation formula that seeks to equitably distribute supplies, while preserving emergency reserves,” he said. “Conservation is an absolute necessity. Using less and being more efficient is the new water reality in Southern California.’”

Water supplies have been low this year due to a record-dry spring that decreased runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountains and environmental problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that are restricting the MWD’s ability to pump water.