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Management of San Diego County’s water supply is not a single-issue. The comments by readers regarding the need for or practicality of water conservation touch on the complexity of this issue. Is conservation the answer? No. Is it a critical component of how we manage our water supply portfolio to ensure a safe, reliable and adequate water supply is available to both residents and businesses in San Diego County? Absolutely!

According to SANDAG’s projections, most of our future population growth is a natural increase attributable to births over deaths in San Diego County. Getting water supply right is about the quality of life and economic future of our children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, there is not a single answer to achieving water supply reliability. Conservation is not only a necessity of living in an arid climate, but it is our obligation as good stewards of a scarce resource. It is also our cheapest source of new water. By saving water, we not only offset a need for additional water but also reduce the need for even more new and expensive supplies.

Diversification of our water supply has been the primary objective of the water authority and its 24 member agencies for over 15 years. There are many ways we have worked to achieve water supply reliability:

  • The increased use of recycled wastewater that is now discharged to the ocean.
  • Ensuring that San Diego has a long-term supply of the most reliable Colorado River water available, with water rights senior to the rest of southern California through a water transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District and water from the lining of the All-American and Coachella canals.
  • Building almost 200,000 acre-feet of new water storage facilities in San Diego County.
  • Desalting brackish groundwater and seawater.
  • Building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to supply the 3.7 million people that will live in San Diego County by 2020.  

All of these efforts are critical to achieving our goal of a diversified water portfolio and a more reliable water supply in 2020. Water conservation, more than any single supply source, requires an individual commitment of all the residents and businesses of San Diego to be more water efficient. The impact of choosing low-water-use landscaping, maintaining irrigation systems and turning them off when not needed can have a significant impact on our future water needs. It requires a landscape industry that is trained and promotes water efficiency. It is dependent on a long-term commitment to achieve these goals and it is the one area where collectively and individually we can all make a positive impact. If we don’t conserve, if we don’t diversify, we are risking the future of San Diego County.

FERN STEINER

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