The voice was everyone, all the time, so much so that it ended up in your head: Was that shower short enough? Do I need to flush this time? Is it ethical to boil this much water for so little ravioli? Do I really need green grass? Should I report the idiot across the street who leaves their sprinklers on all the damn time?

The San Diego County Water Authority – a collection of two dozen local water departments – did everything it could to get out its message: “When in Drought: Save every day, every way.”

California is, of course, in a drought and Gov. Jerry Brown ordered Californians to use less water. The drought was the biggest issue this year in California.

The Water Authority did the usual stuff a government agency does to get out its message – its officials went on TV and gave interviews. But it did more than the usual, too: It handed out “stylish blue buckets” to collect water, it gave out shower timers and it created a mobile phone app so you can tattletale on your water-wasting neighbors.

And yet, San Diego isn’t actually running out of water. Indeed, the region has almost all the water it could need, even after years in a historic dry spell.

For that you can also thank the San Diego County Water Authority.

The San Diego County Water Authority decided years ago to spare no expense in its quest for water. The most visible of the results is the $1 billion desalination plant in Carlsbad that opened this month: a costly but “drought-proof” supply.

The region’s water supplies are for now enviable, if expensive. Instead of clinging to empty reservoirs, water officials here have been cajoling the governor to let us use more water than he is allowing the rest of the state.

This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego this year.

Ry Rivard

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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