There is No Shortage of Water in San Diego. Do Not Believe the Propaganda!

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by Barry Estates
June 25, 2015
Category:   Rancho Santa Fe Homes



Response to SFID mailer

Our case

SD has been preparing for drought for decades, and has achieved some important results:

1. We have near full supply right now.

2. We have substantial new local supplies coming on line beginning in a few months.

3. We have dramatically reduced water imports from Northern California, and are on track to be essentially independent of that source in coming years.

4. Since 1990, we have achieved a 30 percent reduction in per capita water use and a 12 percent reduction in total use, even as the economy and population have grown.

5. Rainfall in 6 states that feed the Colorado is above average this year: last month was the wettest May since 1895. Lake Mead is rising more than 10 percent.

6. New IID water plus new recycled water coming soon. Massive new supplies.

SFID wants you to believe that we are about to run out of water. Here are their claims:

1. Driest and hottest since records kept.

But: SD had about average rainfall this year. The 6 states that feed the Colorado have had above average precipitation. NOAA reporting high probability of strong El Niño this year.

2. Colorado River drought 11 of past 14 years.

But: Actual flow has been below average, but no expectation of shortages at least next two years.


3. Lake Hodges has run out.

But: Not empty. A very minor source of SD’s water supply. (State the average percent: about one quarter of one percent countywide). SFID just buys a little more from its main source, the CWA.  The CWA says it has 99 percent of water used in an average year right now. These cuts mean we will be FILLING our reservoirs this year.

4. Colorado River and SoCal’s main reservoirs only half full.

But: Reservoirs are never at 100 percent of capacity; correct metric is amount relative to average, so “half full” understates storage levels.

Which reservoirs?  Pyramid is close to full. Skinner at reasonable level. SD reservoirs adequate to meet our needs.

CWA reservoirs are adequate to meet our normal year needs, and will be rising as Carlsbad water production begins in a few months. Lake Mead is expected to be up at least 10 percent due to record rains last month.

We import relatively little water from northern Cal. Amount has been falling for years, by design, and we hope to be essentially independent of that water in the near future.

5. Snowpack only 1 percent of average.

We get less and less water from northern Cal. We have adequate supplies without additional northern Cal water. We care if it rains and snows in the States that feed the Colorado.

Our strategy has actually freed up substantial amounts of previously imported northern Cal water for others.

6. Northern Cal water imports cut to only 15 percent.

But: 15 percent of what?  Of amount requested? It doesn’t matter to SD! And our average imports are only (much much less than) 100 percent, so 15 percent is actually (50?) percent of average provided.

We are prepared today and our prospects are very good:

1. Desal on line in a few months scaling to 50MGD enough new water for 400,000 people.

2. Additional IID water equal to two more desal plants coming beginning in three years.  This is water that was previously lost in transport so is not taking someone else’s supply.

3. Additional local supply (that will reduce imported water) of 30MGD (and rising to 83MGD) expected in about six years. At build out enough for 660,000 people.

Total new sources 223MGD enough to reduce northern Cal water to zero, at our option. Enough for well over 1 million people.


This whole water debate that we have been having is centered around the wrong question. We have been discussing a lot of tactics, and whether we should escalate the conversation, and whether we should ——— The real question should be is this mandate of a police state in our strategic interest? The government should be promoting county self-sufficiency.We need private citizens to stop looking to politicians to solve a regional water supply problem especially when each county has the ability to add 2-4 desalinization plants. Israel did it.  San Diego County did it.  Northern California has to stop relying on Southern California.

“There is no water shortage in San Diego. We’re actually on track to have a surplus next year and by 2020 to be independent of water brought in from drought plagued regions. The governor’s plan that forces San Diego County to drastically cut water usage doesn’t actually help the other parts of the state that have a water problem. His plan actually threatens San Diego’s well planned and orchestrated multi-decade strategy for water independence and self-sufficiency. It costs San Diego homeowners and businesses billions and billions of dollars and gives a false sense of making a difference. San Diego’s plan for self-sufficiency and conservation is a model for other cities to follow since the plan has actually worked.”


Local investments in reliable water supplies such as the Carlsbad Desalination Project and independent water transfers from the Imperial Valley will allow the Water Authority to offset almost all of the reduction in supplies from MWD in fiscal year 2016. That means the Water Authority expects to have enough water supplies to meet 99 percent of the typical demands by its member agencies for the year starting July 1. However, Water Authority member agencies are under state orders to reduce water use by 12 to 36 percent, regardless of available water supplies.   – See more at: http://www.sdcwa.org/drought-conditions#sthash.xMLyxrBd.dpuf

Governor is demanding water cuts for San Diego residents and businesses even though San Diego doesn’t have a shortage this year. If we do this, it will costs property owners billions of dollars of dollars in unnecessary destruction and costs to San Diego residents. San Diego is actually the model for responsible water use and foresight planning and investment.

Water is not fungible. Some rely on groundwater. Some rely on the Owens Valley. Some rely on Hetch Hetchy. Some rely on the Colorado. Some rely on the ocean and in recycling. And so on. So if a well user cuts their use it doesn’t free up one drop for say San Francisco or LA, who rely on Sierra Nevada. We rely mostly on the Colorado and will get something like 90 percent of our water from other sources in the near future (so we won’t really care if it snows in California).

Shortage of rain? Yes. Shortage of water? NO!

We’re being told that due to an emergency water shortage, our governor can dictate our lifestyles, our landscapes, even our personal hygiene. Dismissing technology, he’s taking us back two centuries.

San Jose Mercury News 1/31/14:  Gov. Brown says flush less as California struggles with drought

The New York Times 4/1/15:  “We’re in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

San Diego Union Tribune 4/19/15

For San Diego, the cruel irony is that the shortage in most of the state simply doesn’t exist here, at least not yet.

Since the 1990s, the county’s water agencies have spent at least $3.5billion to secure supplies that state government or Los Angeles couldn’t grab. Please note that this money came from higher bills to local consumers. We expanded reservoirs; built a giant desalination plant in Carlsbad; and negotiated a historic trade in which we paid to reduce waste for Imperial farmers so they could share their allocation from the Colorado River.

San Diego Union Tribune 6/19/15

A . . .  series of storms last month has firmed up supplies on the Colorado . . . The gigantic reservoir [Lake Mead] supplies most of the water used in San Diego County, along with the rest of Southern California, and Nevada and Arizona. . . . The [U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Lake Mead] sees no shortage in 2016 or 2017.

The governor has, in essence, told us to “Jump!” We can do better than just reply “How high?”

Article by: Barry Estates

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