WaterSource New Masthead


March 2011
In This Issue
Survey Shows Above Average Snowpack
Free Irrigation Checkups Available
Water Authority Defers 11 Projects
San Vicente Pipeline Complete
Court Settlement Relaxes Pumping Restrictions on the Bay-Delta
First Draft of Bay-Delta Conservation Plan Released
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San Diego County Water Authority


Survey Shows Above Average Snowpack

California's Sierra Nevada snowpack is well above average for this time of the year. Department of Water Resources hydrologists measured water content on March 1 at 124 percent of normal, boosted by storms in late February. This is a positive sign for 2011 water supplies, because snowpack water content normally peaks around DWR Snow SurveyApril 1 before the spring runoff.  Additional surveys will be taken around the first of April and May.

Based on the survey results, DWR currently estimates that it will be able to deliver 60 percent of requested State Water Project water this year.  As much as 30 percent of San Diego County's water supply comes from the State Water Project.

In 2010, the State Water Project only delivered 50 percent of requests due to lingering effects of drought and regulatory restrictions on pumping designed to protect threatened fish species.

The State Water Project reservoirs are also about at average storage levels for the date.  

For more information on the State Water Project and the snow surveys go to:  http://www.water.ca.gov/

DWR News Release on the March snow survey: http://www.water.ca.gov/news/  

Free Irrigation Checkups Available 

Free irrigation checkups that can help commercial properties identify how to reduce water use are available until June 1.  Owners and managers of multifamily, commercial, industrial or public properties can participate in the program, which is sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation. Residential Irrigation Checkupproperties one acre and larger can also participate. 

Participants receive a report detailing observations and site-specific recommendations to improve the efficiency of irrigation systems. Water savings of up to          20 percent often are possible after implementing the recommendations.  

Applications are available at www.irrigationcheckup.org or by calling (866) 883-1332. Properties in the city of San Diego should first call (619) 570-1999, and properties within the Helix Water District service area should call (619) 466-0585.

For information on irrigation checkups for single-family homes less than one acre, go to 20 Gallon Challenge - Residential Programs. 

Both programs are administered on behalf of the Water Authority by Mission Resource Conservation District.

For more information, go to www.sdcwa.org.

Water Authority Defers 11 Projects to Help Manage Rates

The Water Authority has deferred construction of 11 infrastructure projects until July 2014 or later in response to reduced short-term water demand projections and changing economic circumstances. This will postpone $82 million

Pipeline Constructionin costs and will help moderate Water Authority rate increases in 2012 and 2013. 


The deferred projects include new pump stations, pipeline expansions, flow control facilities, and mitigation projects linked to future construction.  

The Water Authority also is considering deferring three additional projects totaling $68 million. Capital projects urgently needed to ensure regional water reliability, such as the San Vicente Dam Raise, are still moving forward as planned.


The Water Authority will also re-evaluate the need and scope for some of these deferred projects. 


Read the news release on this board action at: News Release - Water Authority Defers 11 Projects. 

San Vicente Pipeline Tunnel Complete


The San Vicente Pipeline Tunnel, a major component of the Water Authority's $1.5 billion Emergency Storage Project, is now complete. The $342 million project will improve emergency distribution to water agencies in the southern part of the county by linking the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside to the Water Authority's aqueduct in Mira Mesa.

SVPL Bulkhead signing - Water Source

Water Authority officials sign the end of the pipeline at the project's dedication ceremony.


"Completion of the San Vicente Pipeline marks another major step forward for the region's long-term water reliability," said Michael T. Hogan, Water Authority Board Chair. "This new pipeline provides greater flexibility for how the Water Authority can store and move water around the county."


 For more information go to: Top Issues: San Vicente Pipeline Complete.   

Court Settlement Relaxes Pumping Restrictions on the Bay-Delta

Delta SmeltA settlement between state and federal water contractors, the federal government, and environmental groups will result in the easing of some pumping restrictions on water delivered from Northern California's Bay-Delta through the State Water Project until summer.

The February 24 settlement stems from a December 2010 federal court decision invalidating limits on the amount of water that could be pumped from the Bay-Delta during certain times of the year in order to protect the Delta smelt, a threatened fish species. The restrictions could be reinstated if any Delta smelt are detected near the pumps.  However, no restrictions have been imposed this year due to ample runoff from snow and rainfall.  More water in the Bay-Delta rivers decreases the effect of the pumps on the fish. 

Since 2008, restrictions on pumping, combined with dry conditions reduced State Water Project deliveries to Southern California. The Bay-Delta is the source of up to 30 percent of the San Diego region's water supply.  

For more information on the Bay-Delta: http://www.sdcwa.org/bay-delta-water-supplies 


For Court settlement documents     

First Draft of Bay-Delta Conservation Plan Released 

The first draft of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan  (BDCP) developed by Delta Stewardship Council is available for public review. The plan addresses habitat recovery in the Bay-Delta, while simultaneously providing protection and restoration of water supplies and the reliable operation of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project.

Bay Delta

The Bay-Delta

The first draft is a discussion document to assist the council as it considers  direction and policy goals. Key findings in the first draft include:

  • California oversubscribes its water supply; it uses more water each year than is provided by nature.
  • The long-term reliability of surface and groundwater supplies is at risk unless groundwater overdrafting is eliminated.
  • California's water supply is increasingly at risk from external influences such as earthquakes, drought and climate change.
  • Even with significant restoration of the ecosystem, some native species may not be saved due to factors beyond the control of water managers, and because the system may have changed so much, some species may not be able to recover.

The council expects to release a second draft March 18, with additional drafts in April and May. The May draft will likely become the basis for a draft environmental impact report scheduled for release in June.

The final plan, which will address achieving the co-equal goals of improved water supply reliability and ecosystem health in the Delta, is expected by January 2012.

A copy of the first draft is available at: Preliminary Draft BDCP.

For more information on future drafts: Draft Delta plans.

The San Diego County Water Authority works through its 24 member agencies to provide a safe and reliable water supply to support the region's $186 billion economy and quality of life of 3.2 million residents.