San Diego County water supply will last through 2024, and longer, thanks to recent wet winters

SAN DIEGO (FOX 5/KUSI) — The San Diego County Water Authority has announced the county’s water supply is enough to meet the regions needs for the entire year and possibly longer thanks to recent wet winters.

The water authority announced Tuesday consecutive wet winters, combined with investments and conservation by residents and businesses, has resulted in a plentiful water supply that will continue to meet the region’s needs for 2024 and the foreseeable future.

Water supply strong in San Diego area, county water authority says

The announcement came after the California Department of Water Resources performed its fourth snowpack survey of the year on Tuesday, confirming that the early winter’s “snow drought” gave way to a slightly above normal snowpack following a series of storms.

According to the California Department of Water Resources, California gets 75% of its rain and snow from the watersheds north of Sacramento, however 80% of water demand comes from the southern two-thirds of the state.

The 2023 water year started with heavy drought conditions, but thanks to above-average amounts of rain and snow, the region’s water supply is in good shape this year.

As of early March 2024, San Diego County had already exceeded its annual average rainfall, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported.

San Diego County has exceeded annual rainfall average since Oct. 1

However, San Diego cannot rely solely on rain to supply its water needs. The city purchases 85% to 90% of its water, which is imported from Northern California and the Colorado River.

“Wet years are the right time to prepare for the inevitable dry years. That’s why we’re working every day to explore creative deals that help us reduce water rate pressures for San Diegans, enhance our long-term water security, and help our neighbors meet their needs for drought resilient water supplies,” said Dan Denham, Water Authority General Manager.

The water authority reports reservoirs across California are nearly full at the start of the heaviest water-use months – a rare occurrence in the arid Southwest. From 2020 to 2022, the state suffered severe drought conditions that forced water use reductions for millions of residents.

The water authority says it will be selling or transferring some of its surplus water to areas with greater needs; a similar deal in late 2023 saved the San Diego region around $20 million.

What uses most of California’s water supply?

“We are in a new era in water management for San Diego County, an era marked by
collaboration, creativity and efficiency,” Denham said. “The Water Authority is leading the way
with strategic alliances that create multiple benefits for San Diego County and the larger region.”

The water authority noted San Diego County has been insulated from drought water cutbacks over the past decade because of long-term investments in secure water supplies. The region has cut back water demand, reducing water use per capita by more than 50% since 1990.

The San Diego region is also home to the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant, and the nation’s largest ag-to-urban water conservation-and-transfer agreement.

You can now track the most current local and statewide water conditions in your region, and even your neighborhood, on the California Water Watch website.

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