The Drought—How Severe a Threat to San Diego?

By Dr. Lynn Reaser

ImageAs much of California faces a water emergency, San Diego, fortunately, is in relatively good shape.  Significant conservation, strategic investments, and moves to diversity our sources of supply mean that San Diego will not face the hardships borne by many farmers and others in the Central Valley, Northern California, and other parts of the state.

After facing up to 50% water reductions during the 1991 drought, San Diego has taken important corrective actions.  Water purchase agreements with the Imperial Irrigation District and important investments have reduced San Diego’s dependence on the Metropolitan Water District from 95% to less than one-half.   Spending on various projects, ranging from lining of the Coachella and All American Canals to raising the San Vicente Dam’s storage capacity, are paying dividends.  Consumers are conserving, with per capita water consumption down over 25% from 1991.

Water remains a serious long-term issue in San Diego.  More conservation, partly through a more rational pricing structure of water, and a much greater use of recycled water will be essential.  For 2014, however, we will be spared from the current crisis.


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