SAN DIEGO — After years of dealing with drought conditions, the region’s water supply is in good shape, ready to meet the demand for 2024, according to the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA).
“Last year we were starting Water Year ‘23 in really heavy drought conditions with state mandatory reductions and this year there’s no mandatory water use reductions… there’s a lot of water in storage in Northern California, reservoirs are full,” said Efren Lopez, water resources specialist with SDCWA.
That’s because of all the storms over the past year that drenched California, delivering above-average amounts of rain and snow with the Sierra snowpack reaching 200% above average.
Conditions are also improved along the Colorado River, which provides San Diego County with more than half its water supply.
Reservoirs at Lake Mead and Lake Powell are now a little more than one-third full.
“It’s been every year watching it go lower and lower and more water coming out than is going in and this was the first year in a long time that we’ve seen something different,” said Alexi Schnell, Colorado River Program Manager, SDCWA.
“We see this as a very secure supply and as far as any projections for cutbacks…there still will be a shortage on the river, but that does not affect San Diego because of California’s high priority rights,” Schnell said.
And now, El Niño conditions are strengthening and that could mean more above-average rain for Southern California.
“We’re paying close attention to El Niño conditions we’re seeing it increase by 95%… that means that it could linger through March, that means that during our wet months, which is January, February, March, we could be seeing El Nino conditions… typically that means that we might get more rain, but it’s not a guarantee,” Lopez said
Officials say conservation efforts have also helped tremendously and people are encouraged to continue with that.
But the good news is that it’s not going to bring down water rates because the water authority says those have gone up due to inflation and the costs to maintain and upgrade infrastructure to provide safe, reliable water supplies.