Frequently Asked Questions
How can SCOOP benefit my business?
SCOOP firms receive:
- Notification of upcoming contract opportunities
- Contact from prime contractors conducting outreach as part of their good faith effort to subcontract or joint venture on Water Authority projects
- Information on county-wide small business outreach events
- Training opportunities:
What is the Capital Improvement Program (CIP)?
The Water Authority initiated the Capital Improvement Program in 1989 to plan and implement projects to meet the region's future water needs. For many years, the Water Authority received as much as 90 percent of its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on a yearly basis. The CIP reduces this overreliance on a single supplier and improves water reliability by diversifying the region’s water supply portfolio. It also enhances the aqueduct system that delivers water to member agencies, which serve more than 3 million residents. Through the CIP the Water Authority:
- Constructs new facilities to increase operational flexibility and capacity to deliver water, increase local storage and provide water during emergencies.
- Rehabilitates existing facilities by replacing or relining aging pipelines to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of water to the region.
The Water Authority solicits competitive proposals and bids for a variety of construction and material procurement projects. To be included on the Water Authority's bid list or to view additional documents including design manuals or the General Conditions and Standard Specifications, visit the Water Authority's Contracting Opportunities web page.
What is the Emergency Storage Project (ESP)?
The Emergency Storage Project is a major part of the Water Authority’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The ESP is a system of reservoirs, interconnected pipelines, and pumping stations designed to make water available to the San Diego region in the event of an interruption in imported water deliveries.
The Emergency Storage Project will add 90,100 acre-feet of water storage for emergency use and will:
- Provide up to six months of emergency water storage in the San Diego region
- Establish emergency water storage at Lake Hodges, and the Olivenhain and San Vicente reservoirs for use throughout the county
- Expand the pipeline system to allow region-wide emergency water distribution
What is the importance of investing in local water resources? What is a local resource?
To maximize the reliability of the region’s water supply, for the past two decades the San Diego County Water Authority, in coordination with its 24 member retail water agencies, has been diversifying its portfolio of water supply sources promoting greater water use efficiency.
The Water Authority continually works with local agencies to develop local supplies such as groundwater, recycled water, seawater desalination, and conservation. By 2020, local water supplies are projected to meet 40 percent of the region’s water demands.
Who do I contact about local water use requirements, water rates, my water bill or water leaks?
Customers should contact the water agency that sends their water bill. To find out which member agency serves your area, use the “Locate Your Water District” tool on the right side of this page.
Why and how should I conserve water? What conservation programs are available through the Water Authority?
Water conservation is a critical part of the Water Authority’s long-term strategy for meeting water supply needs of the San Diego region. The goals of the Water Authority’s water conservation program are to: (1) reduce demand for more expensive, imported water; (2) demonstrate continued commitment to the Best Management Practices and Agricultural Efficient Water Management Practices; and (3) ensure a reliable future water supply. In addition, in 2009 the state Legislature passed SBX7-7, which calls for per capita water consumption to be cut 20 percent by 2020.
Click below to learn more about conservation programs and/or incentives available to you at your residence, business, or public agency.
What is done to ensure that the quality of water is safe?
The Water Authority receives both treated and untreated water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. This water originates from the Colorado River and from Bay-Delta area of Northern California.
Untreated water must be treated prior to use by the public. One of the treatment plants, the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant, located within the county is owned by the Water Authority. This plant utilizes the latest technology to produce up to 100 million gallons of potable water each day.
In addition to the Water Authority, other agencies that own and operate treatment plants within the county include:
- Escondido (City of) - joint ownership with Vista Irrigation District
- Helix Water District
- Oceanside (City of)
- Olivenhain Municipal Water District
- Poway (City of)
- San Diego (City of)
- Santa Fe Irrigation District- joint ownership with San Dieguito Water District
- Sweetwater Authority (operating for South Bay Irrigation District and National City)
Treated water is purchased by the Water Authority from the Metropolitan Water District, the Helix Water District, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District and the cities of Oceanside, San Diego, and Poway. Treated water sources can be delivered directly into member agency’s distribution systems for customer use. Whether the water is treated by MWD, the Water Authority, or a local agency, all treated water served in San Diego County meets or exceeds rigorous state and federal water quality regulations.
Does the Water Authority perform water quality monitoring?
Yes, as a water wholesaler the Water Authority is responsible for maintaining high-quality potable (drinking) water for its 24 member agencies. The Water Authority performs routine bacteriological testing on the treated water to ensure that there has been no degradation of quality as it's transported from MWD to the member agencies. The water quality in the Water Authority’s Olivenhain Reservoir is routinely tested to ensure it meets all regulatory requirements. Water produced by the Water Authority at the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant is subject to daily, monthly, and annual water quality tests to ensure it also meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements.
The Water Authority performs bacteriological testing on the treated water throughout the aqueduct system. The Water Authority’s member agencies, as the direct supplier to the consumer, perform other required water quality monitoring and must provide reports to the California Department of Public Health and directly to the consumer. Some of the constituents tested include: organics, inorganics, trace metals, disinfection by-products and aesthetics.
What regulations govern water testing?
The Water Authority is regulated by the California Department of Public Health as a permitted public water supply agency. The Water Authority must comply with all applicable state and federal drinking water regulations. State Certified Water Distribution and Water Treatment Operators make all decisions directly affecting water quality and quantity at the Water Authority, as required by state and federal regulations. The certification regulations require various certification levels (1 - 5) based on the complexity of the water distribution system, the size of the population, and the size of the water treatment plant. A smaller-population, non-complex distribution system, is a level one system. The largest-population, complex distribution system, is rated at a level five. The Water Authority is a level five distribution system, which requires shift operators to carry at least Grade 3 Water Distribution Operator Certification and Chief Operators to carry Grade 5 Water Distribution Operator Certification. In addition, the size of the Water Authority’s treatment plant requires shift operators to carry at least a Grade 3 Water Treatment Operator Certification and the Plant Manager to carry a Grade 5 Water Treatment Operator Certification. The certified operators are responsible for ensuring that the Water Authority complies with all applicable water quality regulations. This is done by monitoring all current and proposed water quality regulations, maintaining a strong professional relationship with the regulators and taking part in the development of regulations.
Is bottled water safer than tap water?
Quality-wise, the answer is no. Bottled water originates from wells, springs, even the faucet and is often treated to improve taste, not necessarily for quality or disinfection. Considering bottled water costs up to 500 times more per gallon, tap water is a bargain. You can improve taste of tap water by chilling it.
Who do I contact if our organization would like a speaker to make a presentation on the Water Authority's plans and programs?
The speakers' bureau is an important component of the Water Authority's efforts to inform and create public awareness about its plans and programs to provide a safe and reliable water supply for San Diego County. The speakers' bureau is a free service to the community. If your community group or organization would like to invite a speaker to a meeting, please make arrangements at least three weeks in advance by submitting a speakers’ bureau request.
How much water can the Water Authority deliver on a daily basis?
The Water Authority is capable of delivering more than 900 million gallons per day. That’s enough water to fill up about 3,000 bathtubs per minute, every minute of the day.
How much of that water is treated versus untreated?
Historically, approximately 50 percent of purchased water is untreated, and will be treated at one of the treatment plants within San Diego County. The other 50 percent is treated, and is ready for consumption.
How much does it cost to treat water?
The average cost to treat water in San Diego County is approximately $215 per acre foot.
How big are the Water Authority’s pipes?
The pipes that make up the Water Authority’s distribution system range in size from 48 to 108 inches in diameter, and traverse approximately 300 miles.
On average, how much power does it take to deliver water?
The Water Authority is a gravity flow system, so the actual energy costs to distribute the water are only 2 percent of total energy use. To treat water, the Water Authority spends approximately $7.34/kWh/million gallons. The majority of energy use goes toward treating, conveying, and storing the water.
Who do I contact with questions about my water or my water bill?
Customers should contact the water agency that sends you your water bill. To find out which member agency serves your area, use the handy “locate your water district” search tool on the right of this page.
How can I learn more about or purchase the Water Authority’s bonds?
You can learn more about or purchase the Water Authority’s bonds by contacting your personal investment consultant or advisor.
What is a municipal bond?
A municipal bond is a debt obligation of a state, county, city, special district, or agency. Typically, interest on municipal bonds is exempt from federal income taxes and, if the bonds are issued in your state of residence, from state and, in some cases, local income taxes as well. Most municipal bonds are classified as either general obligation (G.O. bonds), which are secured by the property taxing authority of the issuing municipality, or revenue bonds, which only have recourse to the project revenues for which the bond proceeds are used.
What type of municipal entity is the San Diego County Water Authority?
The San Diego County Water Authority (Water Authority) is a special agency, created under California law in 1943 and organized in 1944. The Water Authority exists for the primary purpose of supplying water within San Diego County for wholesale distribution to the Water Authority’s member agencies in order to meet the member agencies’ respective residential, commercial and agricultural customer needs.
What types of bonds does the Water Authority issue?
The Water Authority issues revenue bonds. It has historically issued its revenue bonds as “Water Revenue Certificates of Participation”. However, starting in 2010, it is issuing its revenue bonds as “Water Revenue Bonds”. Its bonds are typically fixed rate, long-term bonds and are secured by a pledge of the net revenues of the Water Authority.
What types of projects does the Water Authority fund from proceeds of its bond issues?
The Water Authority primarily uses proceeds of its bond issues to pay a portion of the design, acquisition, and construction of its capital construction projects, pursuant to its Capital Improvement Program. Its construction projects provide for the development, storage and transportation of water on behalf of its member agencies.
When does the Water Authority make the principal and interest payments on its bonds?
Principal payments are made annually, per each bond issue’s retirement schedule, on May 1. Interest payments are made semi-annually on each May 1 and November 1.
How many bond issues does the Water Authority currently have outstanding?
The Water Authority currently has seven bond issues outstanding, including its most recent bond issue, the Series 2010A (Tax-Exempt) and 2010B (Taxable Build America Bonds) Water Revenue Bonds, which were issued in January 2010. You can obtain more information about these bond issues by visiting the “Investor Relations” section of the Water Authority’s website.
Has the Water Authority ever missed paying principal and/or interest, or ever defaulted, on any of its bond issues?
No, the Water Authority has never missed any of its bond payments or defaulted on any of its bond issues.
When does the Water Authority issue its bonds?
The Water Authority typically issues bonds when it is close to spending the proceeds from its last bond issue and needs to raise funds to pay for approximately 2 – 3 years of upcoming construction projects, pursuant to its Capital Improvement Program. From time to time, the Water Authority may also issue bonds to refinance outstanding debt obligations, as market conditions dictate.
What is the Water Authority’s budget process?
The General Manager bi-annually prepares and submits to the Board of Directors a two-year budget. The Board of Directors’ discuss and vote on the recommended budget no later than June 30.
How is the Budget established? What are drivers?
The major drivers in creating the budget are the Water Authority’s Board Strategic Plan, the goals of the Water Authority’s Five-Year Business Plan, water supply conditions, current economic conditions, and Water Authority policies (for example, operating fund reserve, debt service coverage, and rate stabilization fund policies).
What are the major components of the Water Authority’s budget?
How does the Water Authority receive revenue?
The Water Authority is a wholesale water agency that purchases water for 24-member agencies that provide water directly to approximately 97% of the residents of San Diego County. Revenue received from member agencies for the purchase of water represents approximately 64% of the Water Authority’s two-year budget.
Can the Water Availability charge be waived or deferred?
Property owners can apply for a deferral. The deferral is for property owners who do not receive water from any of the Water Authority’s member agencies and have no plans to begin receiving water in the future. However, this is a deferral of the fee, not a waiver. If the deferral agreement is ended, the property owner will pay all the past deferred charges, plus the interest compounded annually.
To get an application for a deferral or for further questions, write to the Right of Way Department, San Diego County Water Authority, 4677 Overland Avenue, San Diego 92123 or call (858) 522-6900.
Who is assessed the Water Availability charge?
All property within the Water Authority’s area is assessed unless it has been deferred. The Standby charge is not linked to water consumption.
What is the Water Availability charge?
The charge is ten dollars per parcel or per acre, whichever is greater. For example, a parcel measuring one acre or smaller is assessed $10. A parcel that is 6.3 acres is assessed $63.
Why do I have a Water Availability charge on my tax bill?
The Water Availability Charge is an assessment on all property in the Water Authority’s service area. The State Legislature authorized this assessment when it approved Assembly Bill 2928 in 1988. The Water Authority began collecting the charge in 1989.
What is the Water Authority doing to control rising costs?
We are providing strong oversight at MWD; aggressively controlling costs within the organization; and continuing our program of long-term supply diversification to reduce our reliance on MWD.
Will water costs continue to rise?
Yes. Rate hikes by MWD, decreases in water sales, increases in State Water Project costs, infrastructure improvements, and repair costs are all factors. In addition, the economic downturn has negatively affected the revenues the Water Authority’s receives from property taxes and interest income.
What do these factors entail?
Cost of Purchasing: MWD, the Water Authority’s largest supplier has lost access to low-cost Colorado River water due to drought conditions and falling reservoir levels. As a result, MWD has become more reliant on meeting demand by using more expensive supplies from the State Water Project.
Conveyance:Drought and regulatory restrictions on operations to protect threatened fish have drastically reduced water deliveries from the State Water Project. To help make up for the reductions, both MWD and the Water Authority are purchasing more expensive water from Northern and Central California.
Why are rates increasing?
Significant increases in the cost of purchasing and conveyance are the largest factors contributing to rate increases.
Who is responsible for billing?
The Water Authority is a wholesaling entity with no retail customers. Water rates and charges are billed directly to member agencies that then bill individual customers. For retail and individual customer billing questions, contact your member agency for directly (follow this link to be directed to the member agency page.)
Who is San Diego County’s largest employer?
U.S. Department of Defense is the County’s largest, employing over 136,600; just under 8.6% of total employment.
What are the labor force trends for San Diego County?
Labor force trends can be found in the Water Authority’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report under the Statistical section.
What is San Diego County’s per capital personal income?
Up-to-date information can be found on the Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Economic Accounts at www.bea.gov/regional/reis/.
How large is the Water Authority’s service area?
The Water Authority’s service area encompasses approximately 947,000 acres and serves 3.17 million residents.
What is the Water Authority’s long-term strategy for supply diversification?
The Water Authority is executing a $3.6 billion Capital Improvement program, working with member agencies to develop local supplies, and has long-term conservation and transfer agreements with both the Imperial Irrigation District and Coachella and All-American canals.
How is State legislation enhancing water supply reliability?
Legislation was signed in late 2009 that establish structure and a clear path for making key decisions that ease current restrictions on State Water Project deliveries. Also included is an $11 billion bond that provides benefits that will improve water reliability.
For Further Questions
For further questions, write to the Right of Way section, San Diego County Water Authority, 4677 Overland Avenue, San Diego CA 92123 or call (858) 522-6900.
Can the Water Authority show me where my property line intersects the Water Authority’s right-of-way?
The Water Authority can only stake the right-of-way as they pass through a property. A property owner should contract with a California Licensed Land Surveyor to determine private property lines or boundaries.
Is there a fee to have the Water Authority stake the right-of-way?
The Water Authority may stake its right-of-way as a courtesy and at no expense to the property owner.
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