April 4 Water Authority Water Supply Diversification and Facilities Tour Well Attended

Imperial Valley representatives and San Diego County Water Authority Board Members and staff are pictured together atop the San Vicente Dam during the April 4 water supply diversification and facilities tour, the fourth annual tour for Imperial Valley residents sponsored by the Water Authority.

The Water Authority would like to take a moment and thank those from the Imperial Valley who participated in our fourth Water Authority tour of supply diversification and infrastructure projects so critical to the San Diego region’s water resource management. Attendees from the Valley included representatives from the agricultural community, Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial County, in addition to representatives from cities, chambers, and the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation. These attendees visited the Water Authority’s 50 million gallon per day desalination plant, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant, which is based in Carlsbad and provides ten percent of the region’s water supply. They also visited the San Vicente Dam and Reservoir, which is owned and operated by the City of San Diego. They were able to see the dam which the Water Authority raised to more than double the reservoir size and provide the region more than 157,000 acre-feet of water storage for emergency use or for use in dry years. Finally, they toured the East County Water Purification Project located in Santee, which would take recycled wastewater and purify into a drinkable water resource. Throughout the tour there were presentations and discussions regarding the importance of development of drought resilient supplies and water management in general.

Since first implementing these annual tours in 2015, the goal has been to not only create more awareness about how the region manages its supplies, but also to reflect on the importance of the water transfer agreement between IID (and the Valley as a whole) and the Water Authority and the Quantification Settlement Agreement, now moving beyond its fifteenth year since its implementation. The transfer agreement, key to the QSA, has become the cornerstone of the Water Authority’s two-decade effort to ensure water reliability through the nation’s largest agriculture to urban water transfer. The diversification program has played a central role in how the region prepares itself for the future—one where a smart mix of imported supplies and locally generated water provide stability impossible in years earlier when the Water Authority was dependent upon only one source for its water. Perhaps the most critically important reason to hold these tours is to build and maintain a lasting relationship between the Water Authority and the Imperial Valley given the 45-to-75-year water transfer agreement and the 110-year All-American Canal Lining agreement. These agreements mean the two regions are going to be partners for years to come through water, and it is a partnership that works better when the regions get to know each other. The tour serves as a tool to bring Imperial Valley leaders together with Water Authority managers and board members who work on Colorado River issues important to all of us.

The fact is, while our partnership is based on water, our relationship between the two regions spans more than just water. The two regions have linked economies, shared health and medical care services, an undeniable link through education, and an obvious tie-in through entertainment—from the off-roading of the Valley’s desert to the coastal beaches of San Diego. There are a great many areas of commonality between San Diego and the Imperial Valley, and it makes sense to strengthen those relationships when we have a chance to do that. These kinds of tours provide that opportunity, as do tours from the San Diego region to the Imperial Valley, which we have organized as well with help from the local farming community.

We look forward to hosting more tours.

In the meantime, stay in touch with staff member Darren Simon, our QSA Outreach Coordinator, if you have questions on any water issues and continue to look to this blog for updates on water issues affecting our regions. Again, thank you to all those who joined this latest tour. Your presence made the tour that much better.