2016 Annual Report

Sea Change

Navigating the New World of Water Sustainability

From the Board Officers and General Manager

When historians look back on California in 2016, they will undoubtedly focus on a crisis created by the most significant, far-reaching drought in modern times. When they look at San Diego County, they will see a different story – how the region’s visionary water agencies prepared ahead for drought conditions and – amazingly – stored 100,000 acre-feet of water in a newly expanded reservoir.

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Leading the Way in Drought Readiness and Response

As water supply conditions deteriorated elsewhere in California, the Water Authority was ready to chart a course through the most severe drought in decades to ensure water reliability for the region. When state regulators issued unprecedented emergency water-use reduction mandates, the Water Authority led regional efforts to beat state targets while helping regulators develop a more balanced approach to drought management.

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Expanding a Diversified Water Portfolio

Starting commercial production at the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant was among the most important events in the San Diego region’s centuries-long search for sustainable water supplies. The effort not only provided critical drought-resilient water supplies, but it also was honored locally and internationally as a visionary and cost-effective strategy for a vibrant region with few local drinking water resources.

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Enhancing Infrastructure Reliability and Capability

As the centerpiece of the region’s award-winning Emergency & Carryover Storage Project, the San Vicente Dam Raise has long been viewed as a key regional asset – but no one realized how quickly it would pay dividends. Extraordinary conservation efforts across the region allowed the Water Authority to store 100,000 acre-feet of water in the enlarged San Vicente Reservoir during the fiscal year, creating a valuable hedge against future dry periods.

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Strategic Financial Management

Prudent financial management is a hallmark of the Water Authority’s long-term strategy to ensure a safe and reliable water supply both today and for decades to come. That approach paid off in tangible ways during the fiscal year when the Water Authority received its highest credit rating ever and set water rates near the low end of projections.

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Visionary Leadership and Outreach

Landmark victories in the Water Authority’s long-running legal cases against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California were among the year’s most important achievements. They validated two decades of work by the Water Authority to protect ratepayers from overcharges by the Los Angeles-based agency.

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