San Diego County Water Authority

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San Diego County Water Authority
San-Diego-County-Water-Authority LOGO.jpg

San Diego County Water Authority located in Kearny Mesa
Wholesale Water Supplier overview
FormedJune 1944 (1944-06)
HeadquartersKearny Mesa, San Diego
San Diego County Map

San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) is a member in The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.[1] The Water Authority was formed in 1944 by the California State Legislature, and operates under the County Water Authority Act,[2] which can be found in the California State Water Code.[3] SDCWA serves 24 agencies with 36 Board of Director members.[4] Current board members are Jim Madaffer (Chair), Gary Crocher (Vice Chair), and Christy Guerin (Secretary).[5] SDCWA receives its water supply from the Colorado River, Northern California , as well as desalinated water from the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.[6] SDCWA also runs water conservation programs both in a class setting as well as practical application.[7] SDCWA head quarters are located in Kearny Mesa.


Members served by SDCWA are cities, water districts, irrigation districts, municipal water districts, public utility districts, and a military base[8]

The following agencies purchase water from the Water Authority:[9]


Spanish missionaries in the San Diego area in 1769 noticed that the local water supply was in need of infrastructure, such as dams and aqueducts, to increase supply to the area.[10] One of the first water projects in San Diego was the Old Mission Dam which preceded the erection of six privately funded dams between 1887 and 1897, all of which are still in existence today.[10] Through an act of California state legislation, the San Diego County water authority was created in 1944 to oversee San Diego County’s water rights over the Colorado River.[11] In 1952 San Diego started receiving water from the State Water Project from pipelines built by SDCWA.[10] The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) was created in 1989 to lower the need for imported water to the region.[12] In 2003 the Quantification Settlement Agreement put into writing an agreed upon allocation of water for SDWCA. With the construction of concrete lined canals, for 110 years, the water district will receive 80,000 acre feet (99 million cubic meters) of water via this agreement.[10] In 2015 SDCWA started supplementing their supply with water from the desalination plant in Carlsbad, CA.[6] By 2035 it is projected that local water will meet the region's water demands[12]

Water sources[edit]

San Diego County Water Authority supplies its members both imported and local water resources. Imported water used by SDCWA comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin rivers through State Water Project aqueducts , and from the Colorado River (through the Colorado River Aqueduct).[13] California is one of seven states which receive water from The Colorado River.[7] Around 17% of the water supplied through SDCWA comes from the State Water Project.[10] Local sources from the Metropolitan Water District include recycled water, groundwater pumping, and desalinated water from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant.[14] The Carlsbad desalination plant can supply up to 56,000 acre feet (69 million cubic metres) of water[15]

Current Projects[edit]

SDCWA currently has officials working at a state and federal level to keep track of legislative decisions which may affect San Diego's water supply.[10] Current projects include The Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which works to create infrastructure to meet regional water needs has been an ongoing project since 1989.[16] A current project of CIP is the $1.5 billion Emergency and Carryover Storage Project which is a fail-safe plan  in case of a lapse in imported water supply. The Emergency and Carryover Storage Project consists of dams, reservoirs, pipelines, and pumping stations to ensure continued supply to the region.[17] In efforts to supplement imported water supply, SDCWA helped to facilitate the opening of the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant in 2015. This desalination plant is currently the largest desalination plant world wide and produces 50 million gallons of water a day.[18] In January 2020, the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan was developed with 6 elements outlining future forecast, savings, supply and reliability, and planning and shortage analysis in the region that SDCWA covers.[19]

Current Consumer Programs[edit]

SDCWA has water saving incentives and programs for both residential and business consumers.

Residential Programs[edit]

Residential programs include water saving tips for both indoor and outdoor uses, as well as gardening demonstrations. Residential incentives include rebates for high-efficiency washers and toilets for indoor use, and rebates on sprinkler nozzles, rain barrels, and turf replacement for outdoor water use.[20]

Business Programs[edit]

For businesses, the SDCWA has incentives including both indoor and outdoor water efficiency rebates and programs including their community partnering program run through the Metropolitan Water Districts Innovative Conservation Program (ICP).[21] ICP does work to evaluate water saving technology and their efficiencies. The ICP provides funding with the help of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the Central Arizona Project (CAP), the Southern California Gas Company, and Western Resource Advocates.[22]

Contractor Programs[edit]

For contractors the SDCWA has a WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program (WSCIP), where participants can purchase water saving devices to use in their watering systems.[23]


  1. ^ "Member Agencies Home". Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  2. ^ "County Water Authority Act (as of January 1, 2010)" (PDF). San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 24 March 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Water Code - WAT". California Legislative Information. Retrieved 24 March 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "New Directors Join San Diego County Water Authority Board". Association of California Water Agencies. 2019-02-19. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  5. ^ "Biographies". SDCWA. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  6. ^ a b "About Us". San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  7. ^ a b "MS 302 San Diego County Water Authority Collection". San Diego History Center | San Diego, CA | Our City, Our Story. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
  8. ^ "Member Agencies". San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  9. ^ "Member Agencies". San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "San Diego County Water Authority History". SDCWA. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  11. ^ "MS 302 San Diego County Water Authority Collection". San Diego History Center | San Diego, CA | Our City, Our Story. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  12. ^ a b "San Diego County Water Authority Construction Projects". SDCWA.ORG. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  13. ^ "Sources Of Supply Imported". Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  14. ^ "Local Supplies Home". Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  15. ^ Kightlinger, J., Man, D., & Record, R. (2016-01-01). "Integrated Water Resource Plan: 2015 Update" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-04-25.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ "Construction Projects". San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  17. ^ "Emergency and Carryover Storage". GEI Consultants. 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  18. ^ "Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant". DBIA. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  19. ^ "StackPath". Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  20. ^ "Home". San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  21. ^ "Community Outreach Home". Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  22. ^ "Programs & Services". San Diego County Water Authority. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  23. ^ "Landing Page | Sandiego". Retrieved 2020-05-08.

External links[edit]