February’s Central MWD Caucus Explores Metropolitan’s Priorities for 2017

Central Basin, in partnership with Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, hosted the monthly Central MWD Caucus on Wednesday, February 1st. Guests joined us to hear from Gary Breaux, Chief Financial Officer of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), to learn about Metropolitan’s priorities for 2017.  

MWD supplies Southern California with imported water supplies from the Colorado River Aqueduct and from the San Joaquin-Sacramento Bay Delta via the State Water Project.  As an agency representing 26 cities and serving 19 million people, MWD is focusing on innovative ideas to secure water for the future. Mr. Breaux explained MWD’s top priorities for 2017:

  • Review drought, and water supply and storage levels
  • Move forward on the Regional Recycled Water Program
  • Promote long-term water use efficiency
  • Expand outreach on California Water Fix

In regards to the drought, according to the 8-Station Precipitation Index, the past four month’s amount of precipitation has ranged from 86% – 420% higher than normal average. Due to the rise in precipitation, export levels have boosted storage in the San Luis Reservoir.

The Northern Sierra Snowpack has reached 150% of the average and is now at 26 inches of water to date. Yosemite Falls is the fullest it has been in over 5 years. The increase in snowpack is great news translates to an increase in California’s water storage.

Mr. Breaux also explained that hydrologic conditions throughout the state have also improved.  In Central California, the Snowpack is currently at 180% and the 5-Station Precipitation is at 216%; Southern California’s Snowpack is at 210%, and the 6-Station Precipitation is at 215%; Los Angeles County’s Snowpack is at 226% while San Diego County’s is at 185%. In addition, the Upper Colorado River Basin Snowpack, has reached 161% of the average and is at 15.5 inches.

In terms of MWD’s Dry-Year Storage, Mr. Breaux expressed that MWD is anticipating an increase this year, especially since Lake Oroville gained 1.6 million acre-feet of water as a result of the improved snowpack. The heavy rainfall within the past few months has caused California’s overall drought percentage to decrease from 43% state-wide to only 2%.

Following MWD’s role in monitoring water supplies, Mr. Breaux explained that MWD is also looking to continue moving forward on the Regional Recycled Water Program. The program is a collaboration between MWD and Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County to develop a new regional water source. Metropolitan views the program as a significant source of water to pursue due to its many purposes. With this program, water will be delivered to member agencies, be recharged and stored in multiple groundwater basins and increase Metropolitan’s regional storage reserves.

Metropolitan and the Sanitation Districts are seeking a location for this facility and proposed Carson as a possibility. Metropolitan expects the demonstration plant to be up and running this year once the following items have been completed:

  • Complete design, construction, start-up and operations
  • Proceed with facilities planning, engineering, and additional groundwater modeling
  • Finalize agreements with Sanitation Districts
  • Develop institutional and financial arrangements needed for implementation
  • Initiate public outreach effort focused on the Demonstration Plant

 An additional priority for Metropolitan is long-term water use efficiency. MWD’s goal is to reduce regional per capita use, the regional average consumption per person, by 20% by 2020. In 1985, the capita use of potable water was 205 GPCD (Gallons Per Capita per Day), today it is 131 GPCD.

Mr. Breaux also stressed the importance of landscape efficiency on per capita use. Drought tolerant landscape can lead to long-term savings, whereas outdoor water use restrictions are just a short-term response during a drought.

Metropolitan is also prioritizing the California Water Fix, an improved water delivery system for imported water from Northern California. . The California Water Fix is expected to supply 25 million Californians with water from the State Water Project as well as irrigation water for an estimated 750,000 acres of farmland.  

The California Water Fix will be funded by State Water Project water-users based on consumption. This project is said to improve water delivery with the addition of 3 new intakes, 2 tunnels, State Water Project Pumps, and Central Valley Project Pumps.

Mr. Breaux expressed MWD’s top 5 reasons as to why Los Angeles County needs the CA Water Fix:

  • Sustain our cities
  • Provide local groundwater
  • Promote local supplies
  • Survive droughts
  • Capture big storms

Mr. Breaux concluded by expressing that the California Water Fix is an “all of the above” strategy given its focus on reliability, imported supplies, stored water, conservation, local supplies, and innovation.

Central Basin is looking forward to seeing MWD fulfill its goals and improving water reliability for the 19 million people it serves.