Water Authority board approves capital financing plan for water reliability projects

Short Title
Water Authority board approves capital financing plan for water reliability projects
Funding process set for seawater desalination, water treatment and increased water storage
August 26, 2004

Taking the next critical step towards water supply diversity and reliability today, the San Diego County Water Authority board of directors approved a long-range financial plan for its Capital Improvement Program. The plan details the revenue necessary to effectively finance regional seawater desalination and water treatment facilities and additional local water storage capacity from fiscal 2005 through 2016.

The plan provides the financial framework to fund 22 projects added to the Water Authority's CIP in June. The $1.8 billion added to the previous $1.3 billion CIP represents the largest investment in water supply reliability and system infrastructure in the Water Authority's history.

"The financing and ultimately the completion of these capital improvement projects will reduce our region's reliance on imported water," said Bernie Rhinerson, Water Authority chairman of the board. "These projects will help diversify our water supply portfolio and ensure a reliable water supply for San Diego County for generations to come."

Development of seawater desalination as a regional water supply is the cornerstone of the Water Authority's plans to diversify the region's water supply portfolio and is the centerpiece of the agency's $3.1 billion capital improvement program. The Water Authority's Seawater Desalination Program represents the largest commitment to seawater desalination in the United States and is expected to provide up to 15 percent of the region's water needs by 2015.

In addition to seawater desalination, the long-range financing plan includes funding to build a new Water Authority-owned water treatment facility to treat 56,000 acre-feet of water a year. It also provides for an increase in local water storage by 100,000 acre-feet by raising San Vicente Dam. Other projects will enhance the Water Authority's aqueduct system to eliminate water delivery bottlenecks.

"The funding of 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 funding the 22 capital projects will affect water rates in the future. The report affirmed these capital 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 the 22 additional capital projects.

The Water Authority will issue up to $550 million in debt in the fall of 2004 for fiscal 2005 through fiscal 2007 to pay for the existing board-approved CIP as well as the newly added 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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