County has enough water for 2019, water officials say

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County will have enough water for 2019 in spite of low rainfall and high temperatures over the past year, the San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday.

Rainfall during the 2018 water year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, totaled slightly more than three inches at San Diego International Airport, the county’s precipitation measurement site. SDCWA officials say that’s 67 percent lower than normal and the county’s second-lowest annual rainfall total since 1850.

Despite the scant amount of rain, the Water Authority expects that increased water-use efficiency and a number of water supply facilities will keep the county well-stocked with water for the immediate future. The Carlsbad Desalination plant produces roughly 50 million gallons of safe and drinkable water per day and the San Vicente Dam currently holds about 100,000 acre-feet of water, after the Water Authority took action to conserve water resources because of recent droughts.

One acre-foot of water, roughly 325,900 gallons, can supply two four- person households for a year, according to the agency.

“It has been very hot and dry, but we have invested wisely in infrastructure and regional water use remains well below where it was at the start of the last drought,” said Jeff Stephenson, the Water Authority’s principal water resources specialist. “In fact, potable water use over the past three-plus years was 17 percent below 2013, which shows that San Diego continues to live WaterSmart.”

San Diego County currently has “severe drought” conditions, according to a regional classification by the U.S. Drought Monitor, but the investment of more than $3.5 billion over the last 30 years for regional water infrastructure improvements has paid off, according to the SDCWA.

Along with that investment and hedging against future droughts, the county is expected to see more rainfall in the coming months, Stephenson said.

“We are looking for a wet winter locally, and in the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, to help replenish reserves for future years,” he said.