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With a nearly 100-year legacy of water resource planning for Southern California, Metropolitan is tasked with looking ahead to foresee the needs of the region, and the supply challenges we might encounter. Planning is a cornerstone of Metropolitan's reliability and we seek out innovative solutions and strategic investments to fulfill our mission of delivering reliable, high-quality water now and into the future.
Ensuring water reliability for 19 million Californians is no small task. Half of Southern California's water is imported from hundreds of miles away. And those sources are increasingly under threat from climate change, longer periods of drought and earthquakes. Metropolitan must remain reliable in the face of these challenges. Planning remains key.
Metropolitan's Climate Adaptation Master Plan for Water will consider climate scenarios alongside plans for water resource development and management, emergency preparedness and response, and financial sustainability to prepare the region for the potential impacts.
Adapting to Weather Extremes
California’s recent climate extremes highlight the challenges ahead in managing our water supplies. From historic droughts to record-setting levels of rain and snow in the span of just a few years, the imported water sources our region traditionally has depended on - from the Colorado River Basin and from Northern California - are becoming more stressed and less sustainable in the midst of a changing climate.
Metropolitan has long recognized the importance of securing and managing our state's precious water resources against future uncertainties through our Integrated Water Resources Plan. We initiated this blueprint for planning in the mid-1990s and have since refined the IRP several times. With each major update, we have revised and adapted our management objectives and approaches to meet the projected water needs of Southern California.
The next major update to Metropolitan's long-term planning process is being developed through the Climate Adaptation Master Plan for Water. This updated long-term planning process will integrate complex climate modeling, various water supply and demand scenarios mapped over a 25-year horizon and cost-conscious business forecasting to ensure that we are well-positioned to make strategic and sustainable investments that will benefit all of Southern California.
Our CAMP4W process includes collaboration and engagement with our member agencies and elected leaders, community-based organizations, local businesses and the public. We are seeking feedback and dialogue as we chart our sustainable path forward and work together to build a stronger, more resilient water future for Southern California.
Integrated Water Resources Plan
Metropolitan was formed in 1928 to bring water from the Colorado River to a growing Southern California, but as the region grew, so did our role. In the 1960s, Metropolitan became the largest agency to sign on to receive State Water Project supplies from Northern California. In the 1980s, with the population still growing, Metropolitan began investing in a third major water source — local supplies such as recycling and groundwater cleanup. It has since become clear that to ensure we can meet the needs of the region long into the future, Metropolitan needs to manage these diverse and evolving supplies together. We do this through the Integrated Water Resources Plan.
Following the water supply challenges brought by the drought of 1987 to 1991, our board adopted the inaugural IRP in 1996 to address the complexities of developing, maintaining and delivering water to meet changing demands and supplies. The plan — which sets a regional framework for water supply development, water use efficiency and increased surface and groundwater storage capacity — has been updated several times over the past 25 years. Metropolitan is currently in the process of developing its 2020 IRP, incorporating different scenarios for the future, to strengthen the region’s water planning efforts and manage increasing uncertainties.
The Capital Investment Plan
The Capital Investment Plan is structured to reflect Metropolitan’s strategic goals of providing a reliable supply of high-quality water at the lowest cost possible. Metropolitan’s total planned capital expenditures for Fiscal Years 2022/23 and 2023/24 are $600 million. The projects that comprise the CIP have been identified from many Metropolitan studies of projected water needs as well as ongoing monitoring and inspections, condition assessments, and focused vulnerability studies. Metropolitan continues to place an emphasis on execution of capital projects, support to internal and external stakeholders, infrastructure reliability and protection, and planning for the future with workforce development initiatives.
Read our Capital Investment Plan
Metropolitan demonstrates its ability to meet expected water demands in the region for the next quarter century, even under drought conditions, through its Urban Water Management Plan. Required by the state, the plan provides a summary of Metropolitan’s anticipated water demands and supplies through 2045, and shows we will meet demands under normal water years, single dry-years, and five-year drought sequences. At the center of Metropolitan’s 2020 UWMP plan is its diverse portfolio of water resources, including imported supplies from the Colorado River and State Water Project; local projects offering water recycling and groundwater recovery; short- and long-term water transfers; storage, both inside and outside of the region; and continued investment in water-use efficiency and demand management.
The plan describes implementation strategies and schedules and other relevant information and programs. The UWMP, prepared as part of the 2020 Integrated Water Resources Plan planning process, is updated every five years in compliance with the California Water Code. The Water Shortage Contingency Plan includes Metropolitan's efficient management and planned actions to respond to actual water shortage conditions. It improves preparedness for droughts and other impacts on water supplies under varying degrees of water shortages. The WSCP complies with the California Water Code and is updated as needed.
Highlights of the 2020 UWMP and WSCP
Strengthening Resilience to Natural Disasters
Southern California’s geographic location puts us at risk for several types of natural disasters. Contingency planning and preparation are essential when faced with the possibility of having our water supply interrupted by earthquake, landslide, flood or other natural disaster.
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan
Metropolitan is working collaboratively with its 26 member agencies and county emergency managers throughout the region to develop a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which identifies and analyzes a comprehensive range of strategies and projects to reduce the impact of natural hazards to Southern California’s water supplies.
The LHMP is vital to help ensure Metropolitan can continue delivering on its mission to provide its service area reliable supplies even in the face of emergencies. Development of the LHMP began with data collection, analysis of existing conditions, and outreach.
For questions, email [email protected].
Metropolitan is prepared to ensure Southern California has water even in a worst-case scenario: a major earthquake. We have programs to improve the resilience of our infrastructure against earthquakes and we’re prepared to respond in case of emergency and restore our systems as quickly as possible. We also have emergency reserves set aside in the event our imported supplies are cut off while repairs are being made. Our Seismic Resilience Strategy is a multi-faceted approach that involves coordination among several key areas within Metropolitan as well as close collaboration with the California Department of Water Resources and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, owners of the other two major imported water conveyance systems of the region, to enhance regional seismic resilience.
Learn more about Metropolitan’s effort to achieve seismic resilience:
Metropolitan’s Dam Safety Program
Metropolitan owns and operates 20 reservoirs and 24 dams that store or manage water throughout Southern California. Under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams the structures are regularly inspected by Metropolitan staff and the DSOD to ensure they continue to operate safely. All our dams are classified for potential downstream impacts to life and property. FEMA categorizes the downstream hazard potential into three categories of increasing severity: Low, Significant, and High with the DSOD adding a fourth category of Extremely High.
The DSOD reports that all of Metropolitan’s dams are safe for continued operation. Please email us for more information on Metropolitan’s Dam Safety Program.
Our dam monitoring systems collect data from a portfolio of instrumentation to monitor their safety and performance. Parameters measured include dam internal pressures, water levels, seepage flows, and deformation. Staff regularly review instrumentation data for any signs of potential dam safety issues. Instrumentation data reports are submitted to the DSOD on an annual basis.
Our engineers perform dam inspections of all dams on a monthly or quarterly basis, and at least once a year in the presence of DSOD staff for dams that are High or Extremely High Hazard.
Inspection reports are submitted to the DSOD on an annual basis.
Periodic assessments are performed by staff and independent consultants to evaluate the performance of the dams and to identify any necessary improvements. Staff coordinates with the DSOD to ensure these assessments are completed in accordance with all dam safety regulations.
Inundation maps have been prepared by Metropolitan for all 24 dams, and all have been formally approved by the DSOD. Our inundation maps indicate the extent of flooding that could result from a hypothetical catastrophic failure of a dam to inform local emergency management authorities of all potentially affected areas. Additional information is available on the DSOD website.
One of the most important elements of Metropolitan’s dam safety program is planning and preparing for potential emergencies. The planning process includes preparing the flood inundation maps, developing and maintaining an Emergency Action Plan for each dam in coordination with local emergency management authorities, regular maintenance and testing of dam monitoring systems, regular maintenance and exercising of all emergency dewatering equipment, and periodic reviews of EAPs at least annually.