New Water Year Begins on Positive Note But Supply Challenges Persist
The 2011 water year began in October, and the San Diego region enters the new water year in better shape than a year ago. However, the San Diego County Water Authority is still urging residents and businesses to use water wisely in light of several supply challenges that still exist.
Average to above-average rainfall locally and around California, combined with reduced water use, have raised water storage levels in key reservoirs significantly. Lake Oroville and San Luis reservoirs, two key reservoirs in the State Water Project, have about 800,000 acre-feet more water in storage now than at this time a year ago. Meanwhile, residential and business water use in San Diego County is down 10.4 percent for the last 12 months ending September 2010 compared to the previous 12-month period.
To view a short presentation on current water supply conditions, click here.
For current state water storage levels, click here.
Despite this good news, water supply challenges still affect the region's two main water sources - the Bay-Delta in Northern California and the Colorado River. Water restrictions also remain in effect for most local water agencies. Click here to find current restrictions in your area.
Water agencies expect regulatory restrictions to protect fish species will again curtail water deliveries from the State Water Project this year. In addition, dry conditions continue in the Colorado River basin. In October, Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the Colorado River, fell to 1,083 ft., its lowest level since it was first filled 75 years ago.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation estimates that under certain hydrologic conditions, Lake Mead could drop to 1,075 feet by 2012, which would trigger water supply reductions agreed to by the seven Colorado River basin states in 2007. Those cuts affect Arizona and Nevada, but not California. If the lake falls to 1,025 feet, which the Bureau does not predict occurring in the next four to five years, the Bureau and the Colorado River states would renegotiate the shortage, which could affect California.
Recent articles in The New York Times, Time Magazine, and Voice of San Diego cover what the changing levels at Lake Mead could mean to water supplies throughout the Southwest.
Time Magazine article
New York Times Article
Voice of San Diego ArticleBureau of Reclamation Reservoir Levels