Water Authority board approves addition of master plan water reliability projects

Short Title
Water Authority board approves addition of master plan water reliability projects
Seawater desalination, water treatment and increased water storage added to agency’s Capital Improvement Program
June 24, 2004

Confirming its commitment to water supply diversity and reliability, the San Diego County Water Authority board of directors approved the addition of the Regional Water Facilities Master Plan projects to the agency’s Capital Improvement Program. Included in the additional projects is the development of regional seawater desalination, water treatment facilities and additional local water storage.

The board’s adoption of the master plan projects increase the Water Authority’s existing $1.3 billion Capital Improvement Program expenditures by $1.8473 billion. The board will consider a long-range financing plan to provide the framework to fund the projects at its July 2004 meeting.

“Today’s board action is a pivotal moment for the Water Authority and our region by making seawater desalination an integral part of our future water supply,” said Bernie Rhinerson, Water Authority chairman of the board. “The addition of the master plan projects addresses the need to reduce our region's reliance on imported water and to diversify our water supply portfolio.”

The Water Authority's development of local seawater desalination projects represents the largest commitment to seawater desalination in the United States. It is expected to provide up to 80 million gallons per day of high-quality drinking water for the San Diego region by 2015.

In September 2003, the Water Authority began a comprehensive environmental impact report on a 56,000 acre-foot-per-year desalination plant in Carlsbad and expects to complete it in late 2005. The Water Authority is also conducting feasibility studies for regional seawater desalination facilities at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station and in south San Diego County.

In addition to seawater desalination, projects added to the Water Authority’s Capital Improvement Program include increasing local water storage by 100,000 acre-feet by raising San Vicente Dam in Lakeside. Other projects will enhance the Water Authority's aqueduct system to eliminate water delivery bottlenecks.

“These projects will allow the Water Authority to make greater use of local water resources,” said Rhinerson. “It will provide the necessary treatment, storage and conveyance infrastructure to deliver a safe and reliable water supply to our member agencies.”

In May, the Water Authority board of directors voted unanimously to accept the Member Agency Rate Impact Review Committee’s report that analyzed how projects in the master plan will impact water rates in the future. The report affirmed the master plan projects can be built at an affordable cost to ratepayers. The committee’s analysis estimated that an average family of four using half an acre-foot of water per year will pay an additional $3.75 more per month in 2016 to pay for all the master plan projects.

The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency serving the San Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from the Colorado River and Northern California. The Water Authority works through its 23 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to support the region’s $130 billion economy and the quality of life of 3 million residents.

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