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San Diego County mitigation efforts aid in California drought battle

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Posted at 9:39 PM, May 18, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As the drought deepens throughout California, San Diego County has postured itself to make it through dry spell conditions as a result of planning and mitigation efforts.

After experiencing a severe drought in the early 1990s, San Diego County officials went to work on diversifying its water supply. At the time, the region was hit with 50 percent supply reductions because it relied almost entirely on a single source.

Since then, however, the San Diego County Water Authority has taken a varied approach. According to the authority, the region has added a new transfer of conserved agriculture water from Imperial Valley and completed the All-American and Coachella Canal lining projects to receive conserved water from the Colorado River.

“The Water Authority’s draft 2020 Urban Water Management Plan shows that regional investments in a ‘water portfolio approach’ to supply management and a sustained emphasis on water-use efficiency mean that San Diego County will continue to have sufficient water supplies through the 2045 planning horizon – so the region’s residents and economy remain safe even during multiple dry years,” the authority told 10News.

Another investment being made by the county is the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

A spokesperson for the plant told 10News the facility produces 50 million gallons of water per day. Enough water to serve 400,000 people or roughly 150,000 households.

In all, the plant provides more than 10 percent of the region’s drinking water, greatly contributing to San Diego County’s water supply. Currently, the plant is the county’s largest local water supply.

A spokesperson at the plant also said the facility has the ability to expand production by up to 10 percent, making more of the precious resource available locally.

Another project in the works is Pure Water San Diego – a city program aimed at turning recycled water into high-quality drinking water.

Currently, the project only produces water for the Pure Water Demonstration Project, which isn’t connected to the city’s water system, according to a city spokesperson. The first phase of the project is expected to be operational by 2025. The city says the program is expected to be completed by 2035 and will produce 83-million gallons of water per day.

Current water levels are forcing a sense of urgency throughout the state, especially after Bay Area officials recently announced they are facing extreme drought conditions. But, the San Diego County Water Authority says there is a lot residents can do to preserve resources that will help locally and regionally.

“Over the past decade, residents and businesses across San Diego County have installed thousands of devices that improve indoor water use, adopted 'WaterSmart' plants, irrigation technologies and habits that not only save money, but also create vibrant yards, reduce energy use, protect natural resources and reduce landscape maintenance,” the authority said.

The authority also offers money-saving incentives, such as high-efficiency washers, toilets, and rain barrels.

Check out the list below for ways to save on water and rebates you could receive:

  • Washers – Starting at $85 rebate
  • Toilets – Starting at $40 rebates per toilet
  • Rain Barrels – Up to $35 on rain barrels
  • Rotating sprinkler nozzles – Starting at $2 per nozzle
  • Soil moisture sensor system – Starting at $80
  • Weather-based irrigation controllers – Starting at $80 per controller

Click here for more water-saving tips and rebate amounts.


The county offers a guide on sustainable landscaping. Some of the information includes tips on selecting climate-appropriate soil and plants, and using both rainwater and irrigation techniques.

"The watershed approach considers every garden as though it were a mini-watershed, holding onto or cleaning all the water that falls on it and nurturing a diverse habitat of plants and insects. Each mini-watershed can be controlled by the people who steward it. The result is that our collective actions restore our greater watersheds and cities," the guide says.

For a guide and a list of more resources on landscaping, click here.