The San Diego Story
The Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project was conceived well before the current drought gripped California. In fact, the historic plant – the largest in the nation – is part of a strategic vision by the San Diego County Water Authority that has its roots in the drought of 1987-92.
Since that time, the Water Authority has become a national leader in developing new water supplies and making the most of every drop through innovative conservation programs and resources. The desalination project is one of the major components of its plan to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio.
Meeting Long-Term Water Needs
A safe, reliable water supply is crucial for the vitality of the San Diego region’s $220 billion economy and quality of life for 3.3 million residents. To maximize the reliability of those supplies, for more than two decades the Water Authority has been executing a long-term strategy to diversify its water sources, make major investments in the region’s water delivery and storage system, and improve water use efficiency.
In 1991, the San Diego region was 95 percent reliant on a single supplier of imported water – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. This made the region extremely vulnerable to water supply shortages. That year, an ongoing drought forced MWD to cut deliveries to the San Diego region by 31 percent.
As a result of that crisis, the Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved a strategy to aggressively diversify the region’s water supply portfolio by developing new local and imported water supplies. This strategy already is enhancing regional supply reliability. Today, the Water Authority gets only about half of its water from MWD.
The Water Authority is working with its 24 member agencies to develop local resources such as groundwater, recycled water, seawater desalination, and conservation. By 2020, local water supplies are projected to meet more than a quarter of the region’s water demand.
TAF = Thousand Acre-Feet
Water-use efficiency as a way of life
Water conservation-and-transfer agreements
Major capital improvements
Advancing potable water reuse & recycling
The Water Authority has been advancing water recycling and reuse by promoting scientific analysis and guidance from technical advisory panels, securing money to study related issues, conducting polling to measure public support, and sponsoring state legislation to speed the adoption of regulations for potable reuse. In 2015, recycled water production in the San Diego region was on par with the supplies derived from local groundwater and surface water combined. And in 2035, projections show that water recycling combined with potable reuse will meet nearly a quarter of the region’s demand.