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An updated water resource plan that provides the roadmap for maintaining Southern California's reliable supply future was adopted today by Metropolitan Water District's board of directors.
Increased investments in seawater desalination and a water supply planning buffer are added key ingredients of the updated Southern California water plan, which outlines a coordinated approach to resource management. The plan updates a 1996 version known as the Integrated Resources Plan, which serves as a national blueprint for regional supply diversification.
"Before the IRP, Southern California was heavily dependent on just two main sources of imported water," said Metropolitan board Chairman Phillip J. Pace. "With lessons learned from the 1987-92 drought, Metropolitan recognized the importance of working collaboratively with our member public agencies to diversify our supply mix, with special emphasis on increasing local supplies.
"Today, as much of the West deals with supply shortages, urban Southern California is realizing the benefits of the mix of supplies provided by these investments," Pace said.
The 1996 plan changed the way Southern California meets its water needs, particularly during dry years, by setting goals for investments in conservation, recycling, storage and other resource management efforts.
In addition to maintaining the balance between imported and local supplies, the update increases the regional goal for seawater desalination to 150,000 acre-feet a year and adds a water supply planning buffer to offset concerns related to water quality and the chance that planned projects are not realized. The 500,000 acre-foot planning buffer is split equally between local and imported sources.
"Metropolitan's supply reliability over the next five to seven years is a result of the successful implementation of the 1996 plan and investment decisions by Metropolitan's board. This update extends that reliability through 2025," said Ronald R. Gastelum, the agency's chief executive officer.
Gastelum said that Metropolitan's six-county service area would be able to meet demands through 2025 through continued investments in conservation; local surface and groundwater storage; investments in water management programs such as recycled, groundwater recovery and seawater desalination; imported supplies from the State Water Project and Colorado River water; and water transfers.
"Together, this resource mix will provide 100 percent reliability," he said.
The update, like the original plan, was a collaborative process, dependent on member agency and public input. Metropolitan and its member agencies held a series of public meetings and briefings during development of the update plan, allowing the final document to reflect a regional perspective.
"The success of our plan rests squarely on the shoulders of both Metropolitan and its member agencies," Gastelum said. "We all have a piece of the pie to provide for, and are dependent on each other for shared success or failure."
A key measurement for success has been the region's ability to prepare for the next drought. Gastelum said a regional water storage capacity of nearly 3 million acre-feet has been developed in the past decade. An acre-foot of water is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the amount used by two typical Southern California families in a year.
To implement the 1996 IRP, Metropolitan renewed its commitment to funding conservation and local projects and began to develop contractual groundwater storage arrangements within the service area. Under the umbrella of local supply development, Metropolitan has invested more than $600 million to co-fund projects with its member agencies.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 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.