Gov. Brown praises San Diego for meeting water-use goals

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SAN DIEGO -- Gov. Jerry Brown met for about 90 minutes Tuesday with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other officials to discuss further water-saving steps in the face of the ongoing drought.

"There's nothing more important to California than water, making it available and using it wisely,'' Brown said as the meeting ended.

He praised San Diegans for meeting state conservation targets.

The city of San Diego is mandated by the state to reduce water consumption by 16 percent, compared to 2013 levels. Last month, city customers cut back usage by 24 percent.

More investments will be needed for water storage and other ways to protect against drought, but building infrastructure is a long-term solution, the governor said.

Faulconer said much of the discussion involved the creation of new water sources, including a desalination plant scheduled to begin operating this fall in Carlsbad and a system that will be built to recycle wastewater into drinking water in the city of San Diego.

"As we look ahead to the future, we know that conservation will continue to be a way of life,'' Faulconer said.

"We also talked about bringing on those new water supplies that are going to be so important to our families, so important to our economy -- and really looking not to just the next five or 10 years, but to the next 20, 30, 50 years out in advance,'' the mayor said.

Among the other attendees at the meeting were Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego; San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner; Halla Razak, director of the city's Public Utilities Department; Henry Abarbanel, the chairman of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board; and Mark Weston, Chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority.

Maureen Stapleton of the San Diego County Water Authority was also in attendance. Stapleton said investments in additional water supplies, conservation and recycling will initially raise rates for customers, but said proposition money will help lighten the load.

“The funding in proposition one is over a series of years…we will be eligible for a variety of funding for our conservation, water recycling, water reuse, storage, and desalination programs…so we will be applying for project and program money and hope to get it back over the next several years as they dole that money out," Stapleton said.

Brown said investing in our future is the best money we can spend to assure our quality of life.

" I know these bills can get high, but there's always some conservation that can save money. The state will be putting in money and we'll do the best we can," Brown said.

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