Imported water supplier passes state’s ‘stress-test,’ relies on continued conservation amid ongoing drought
Published : Thursday, June 16, 2016 | 9:13 PM
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California today released results of an analysis demonstrating it has sufficient water supplies to meet the demand of its member agencies over the next three years, thanks in large part to successful water conservation by Southland residents.
The MWD, as it’s known, supplies about 60 percent of Pasadena’s annual water needs.
After the State Water Resources Control Board ended mandatory emergency conservation in May 2016, it asked water agencies to instead demonstrate whether they have sufficient supplies for the next three years, assuming the drought continues. Under the new regulations, if an agency has a shortfall, it must cut water use by that amount through January 2017.
“This so-called ‘stress test’ asked if we can provide water for our member agencies for the next three years, and our answer is yes,” said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. “To provide that assurance, we have invested to diversify our water portfolio with some of the nation’s largest conservation programs, more storage, and ongoing efforts to improve reliability of imported water supplies.”
While Metropolitan’s stress-test results mean it will not be forced into mandatory conservation, long-term conservation remains a key pillar of its water supply reliability plan. By 2040, conservation and recycling will account for one-third of Metropolitan’s water portfolio according to its Integrated Water Resources Plan which was updated in January and guides the agency’s long-term water management policies.
“Metropolitan is focused on supporting long-term water conservation and moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle,” said Brandon Goshi, manager of water policy and strategy. “Rather than look to water rationing as a solution in dry years, we are focused on how to be reliable every year.” To that end, Metropolitan has invested nearly $1 billion over the past 25 years to develop drought-resilient local supplies, increase water conservation and reduce per capita water use.
In April, Metropolitan’s board of directors approved an investment of $100 million over the next two years for conservation programs and rebates for permanent water-saving devices. In May, the board declared a Water Supply Alert calling for continued awareness and reinforced conservation throughout the district’s 5,200-square-mile service area.
The stress-test is based on a careful analysis of anticipated conditions, taking into account water supply challenges such as the ongoing drought, uncertainty regarding imported water deliveries from Northern California via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, and limitations on the Colorado River.
“We are constantly assessing conditions to ensure we have sufficient supplies,” Kightlinger said. “That said, if we have an exceptional drop in supplies, or an unusual spike in demand, we will absolutely turn to our other tools, such as our allocation plan, to ensure that we maintain water reliability.”
Water supply wholesalers are required to provide projections on the amount of water they expect to deliver to retailers based on a three-year water supply projection that assumes current supply conditions plus an assumed hydrology based on the 2013, 2014 and 2015 water years, and a total potable water demand based on the supplier’s average annual total potable water production for 2013 and 2014. Metropolitan’s water supply projections are posted on our website at www.mwdh2o.com/AboutYourWater/Planning/.
Metropolitan’s member agencies and other urban water retailers are required to self-certify their water supply using a three-year water supply projection starting with current supply conditions plus an assumed hydrology based on the 2013, 2014 and 2015 water years, and submit that information to the state board by June 22, 2016.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.