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September 2011

Despite Gains, Southern California has Considerable Water Supply Challenges

Diamond Valley Lake

Thanks to an extraordinarily rainy, snow-packed winter and spring, Metropolitan Water District enters fall with strong storage supplies. In fact, Metropolitan expects to have a record amount of storage by the end of the year.

Despite these gains, Southern California and the rest of the state continue to contend with considerable water supply challenges, particularly in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Diamond Valley Lake Inlet/Outlet Tower
Metropolitan has been able to take advantage this year's rain and runoff through the additional water delivery capability offered by relatively recent investments-particularly Diamond Valley Lake and the 44-mile-long Inland Feeder water line.

Diamond Valley Lake, Metropolitan's largest storage reservoir near Hemet in southwest Riverside County, is brimming and at its operational capacity. Entering the summer two years ago, the reservoir was less than half full.

The Inland Feeder, a large-diameter water delivery line completed

Building the Inland Feeder Tunnels
in September 2009, was the primary catalyst for the rapid recovery of regional reserves. The huge new tunnel/pipeline system can move 646 million more gallons of water a day from Northern California into the reservoir. The additional capacity allowed Metropolitan to move more water from this season's storms in the Sierra Nevada into DVL and groundwater storage accounts.

Diamond Valley Lake
The district anticipates storing up to 800,000 acre-feet of water this year, nearly equivalent to DVL's capacity. The water reserve improvements and the water-saving efforts of the region's consumers and businesses enabled Metropolitan's Board of Directors in April to rollback its allocation plan, ending mandatory restrictions to the district's member agency customers. Many local water agencies and retailers have subsequently lifted water restrictions on their customers.

Diamond Valley Lake Inlet/Outlet Tower
Although the water reserve increases provide a much-needed respite from more acute shortage conditions the region faced in recent years, they are not the panacea to Southern California's water challenges, where a dry year is always just around the corner. And the Southland and much of the state also continue to deal with pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta because of environmental problems, while a solution that includes long-term water reliability is sought through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. (Please see the story in this issue for an update about funding for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.)

Colorado River Aqueduct
Meanwhile, Metropolitan's second imported water source, the Colorado River, also is benefitting this year from a record snowpack in the Rockies.

Overall, while this is a good year for water storage, conservation and water-use efficiency remain as essential as ever, now and into the future. They must continue to be a permanent way of life in Southern California, especially as the region prepares to meet the statewide goal of 20 percent conservation by 2020.

This newsletter is produced by:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
700 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012