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State Sending 5% Less Water to Southern California, City Committee Will Hear

Published on Monday, April 26, 2021 | 5:00 am

The California Department of Water Resources has reduced its State Water Project (SWP) allocation to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) by five percent for the coming year, Cynthia J. Kurtz, MWD Vice Chairman, said in a report addressed to the Pasadena City Council’s Municipal Services Committee.

Kurtz, who represents Pasadena in the MWD board, had reported in February that the allocation would be 10 percent, based on an earlier State Department of Water Resources projection.

Pasadena gets about 61 percent of its water supply from MWD, according to Pasadena Water and Power records. MWD is a consortium of 26 cities and water districts providing drinking water to nearly 19 million people in parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

About 36 percent of Pasadena’s supply is groundwater from the Raymond Groundwater Basin, pumped out of 16 deep wells located throughout the City. The remaining three percent is purchased from neighboring water agencies that combine surface water and groundwater.

The change in the SWP allocation represents an “extremely low allocation,” Kurtz said, and has only occurred before in 2014.

With this reduction, MWD has had to adjust the supply and demand balance and now projects that the annual demand would be 1.65 million acres-feet (MAF), Kurtz said in the report. Supply from all sources including the SWP is projected to be 1.11 MAF, leaving a gap of about 540,000 acres-feet.

“It is anticipated that going forward there will continue to be extreme swings in water availability from imported sources,” Kurtz wrote. “Metropolitan has prepared for these extremes by increasing storage to capture water when it is available which can be used when there are supply gaps as there is projected to be this year.”

The report also showed MWD has 3.2 MAF of water that’s currently in dry-year storage, ensuring that the gap can easily be filled this year. Kurtz, however, emphasized that there is a need to continue to save water, because no one knows how long the western drought will last.

“The impacts on both the SWP and the Colorado River supply make it critical that there be continued emphasis on conservation,” she wrote.

Kurtz added MWD does not expect further reductions in the SWP allocation, but said numbers are not officially final until late May.

Kurtz’s report will be part of information-only items in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Municipal Services Committee.

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