The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has demonstrated its ability to meet expected water demands in the region for the next quarter century, even under drought conditions, in a long-term management plan approved Tuesday by its board of directors.
Metropolitan’s Urban Water Management Plan provides a summary of the agency’s anticipated water demands and supplies through 2045, and shows the district will meet demands under normal water years, single dry-years, and five-year drought sequences.
At the center of Metropolitan’s reliability 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; and storage, both inside and outside of the region. Metropolitan will also continue investing in water-use efficiency measures to help lower demands across the region.
State law requires water agencies to develop such plans every five years. Metropolitan’s plan also details on how it will reduce reliance on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, in accordance with the Delta Plan. Metropolitan’s reliance on the Delta is expected to decrease by 301,000 acre-feet in 2025 and by 314,000 acre-feet in 2045, as compared to a 2010 baseline.
“Particular components of the UWMP are required under state law, but the plan is aligned to what we do every day. We’re always looking 10, 20, 30 years ahead,” Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. “The reliability and quantity of all of our water supplies are changing as a result of climate change, evolving governance and new investments, or lack of. We have to anticipate these changes, and adjust our plans and investments to ensure we can always reliably meet demands.”
In compliance with a new state requirement, the UWMP also includes a Water Supply Contingency Plan detailing actions Metropolitan would take in response to six water shortage levels – varying from a 10 percent shortage to a more than 50 percent shortage – due to drought conditions or a catastrophic supply disruption from an earthquake or other emergency. Those actions include everything from public awareness campaigns to implementing allocation plans. Metropolitan also continues to assess and revise its plans for catastrophic events to ensure necessary water supplies for the region in the event of an emergency.
Metropolitan developed its 2020 UWMP over the past 18 months in coordination with its member agencies, and with public input, as part of the district’s ongoing efforts to update its long-term water strategy, the Integrated Water Resources Plan. The UWMP includes detailed demand projections and data on local water supply projects in development by Metropolitan and its member agencies.
“It takes an incredible amount of coordination, foresight and partnership to ensure Southern California has reliable water supplies long into the future,” Kightlinger said. “Metropolitan has various plans in place, including the UWMP, so that we’re taking strategic actions to prepare for the challenges ahead.”
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provide water for 19 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.