Water Authority responds to Grand Jury report

New desalinization plant at Camp Pendleton sought, disagreements over long-term storage capacity

The board of directors for the San Diego County Water Authority, whose membership is comprised of 24 local municipal water districts, ratified its response yesterday (August 22) to a May report from the San Diego County Grand Jury, Reduce Dependence on Imported Water.

The report, to which a response was submitted August 1 but just fully ratified by board members, called on the Water Authority to “continue to pursue a vigorous policy to lessen dependence on imported water by continued conservation, reuse and reclamation, additional emergency storage projects and new desalination projects.”

Since 2007, new legislation and initiatives have resulted in a 30 percent overall reduction in water consumption, authorities say. The goal is to reduce dependence on outside water from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from over 95 percent in the early 1990s to 30 percent or less by 2020.

Part of that goal involves continuing to expand conservation measures as well as water recycling programs. The Water Authority is also currently working with Camp Pendleton to explore the possibility of installing a second desalinization plant there, despite serious doubts about the incomplete first plant currently under construction.

The Water Authority officially agreed with two of the report’s findings: that long-term local storage of water for emergency use is important and that desalinization should be viewed as a viable source of generating water locally. They were only partially in agreement with a third finding – that six months’ worth of water storage capacity was insufficient.

“Based on projected growth, supply development and conservation, six months of capacity for emergency use remains adequate for responding to an earthquake or other catastrophic event for the next 20 or 30 years,” the Water Authority said via a release.

The agency is still looking to add additional capacity through the expansion underway at the San Vicente reservoir near Lakeside.

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