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Ensuring water reliability for 19 million Californians is no small task. The majority of Southern California’s imported water sources are located hundreds of miles away. And those supplies are increasingly under threat from climate change, longer periods of drought and earthquakes. Through these challenges, Metropolitan must remain reliable. Planning is key.
As a major water planner for the Southland, Metropolitan is tasked with looking days, months, years and decades ahead to foresee the needs of the region, and the challenges we might encounter. We seek out innovative solutions and make strategic decisions and smart investments to fulfill our mission of delivering reliable, high-quality water now and into the future.
Metropolitan is in the process of developing its Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which will help safeguard the region’s water supplies against natural disasters. Click here to learn more.
Ensuring Reliability As We Face Weather Extremes
After three of the driest years on record, heavy precipitation this winter has boosted California’s snowpack back to healthy levels. However early preparation for the next dry period is key to maintaining our water resiliency in the face of a changed climate.
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 (FYs) 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.
Urban Water Management 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.
Water Shortage Contingency Plan
Highlights of the 2020 UWMP and WSCP
Water Surplus & Drought Management Plan
Our Water Surplus and Drought Management Plan provides a framework for managing Metropolitan’s resources in periods of surplus and shortage to help achieve 100 percent water reliability for Southern California. To reach this goal, the plan’s guiding principle is to store and manage water available during wet periods and work collaboratively with member agencies to minimize the impacts of water shortages in dry years. At the start of the year, Metropolitan develops an initial plan for both wet and dry hydrologic conditions, and then regularly Metropolitan evaluates available water supplies and existing water storage levels to determine the appropriate management actions identified in the plan.
The WSDM Plan has served Metropolitan and Southern California well over the years, through both dry and wet periods. Thanks to this comprehensive water management strategy and actions we’ve taken to strengthen our reliability, Metropolitan ended 2020 with a record amount of water in storage.
Long-Term Conservation Plan
Metropolitan and its member agencies have long been leaders in water conservation, a fundamental component to Southern California’s water reliability. In 2009, at the urging of Metropolitan and its member agencies, the California Legislature mandated urban retail water providers to achieve a 20 percent per-capita reduction in water use by 2020. To support this goal, which also is outlined in Metropolitan’s 2010 IRP Update, our board adopted the Long-Term Conservation Plan, which identified the strategies and actions to reach that target.
Metropolitan exceeded this reduction five years ahead of schedule in 2015, thanks in part to an emergency statewide drought declaration urging residents and businesses to limit their water use. We’ve worked to help Southern Californians continue their water-saving ethic by creating lasting changes in consumer values, incentivizing the purchase of water-efficient devices, conducting outreach and education, and advocating for smarter building and plumbing codes.
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 in fall 2021 with data collection, analysis of existing conditions, and initial outreach, and will continue through early summer.
A complete draft of the LHMP is anticipated to be posted for public review in spring 2022. Metropolitan invites the public to get involved by reviewing the draft LHMP and submitting their feedback when the draft is complete. Please check back on this page for further updates. 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.
2020 Reference Material for UWMP
State Water Project/Bay-Delta
California Department of Water Resources
Conservation/Local Resources Program
Reports, Plans, & Studies
SCAG Reference Materials
Water Energy Reports
Comments, Letters & Responses