Less Water May Mean Less Power for California

SDCWA experts say San Diego County should be okay during drought.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The summer of 2021 could go down as one of the hottest and driest summers in California’s history.

“In Northern California, where we get a lot of our water supply, it has been one of the driest 18 months on record in 120 years,” said Goldy Herbon, a Senior Water Resources Specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority.

Herbon said there is no snowpack in Northern California and the Colorado River is almost down to 60% of its normal water levels.

That’s usually very bad for counties that import a lot of their water. However, Herbon said the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies like the city of San Diego have invested billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements over the last 30 years that have given San Diego County enough to withstand any potential water restrictions brought on by drought.

“We do not foresee shortages through 2045,” Herbon said. “That’s the forecast, considering all the projects that the Water Authority and our member agencies plan to implement.”

She cited infrastructure like the East County Advanced Water Purification Program, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, and the expansion of the San Vicente Reservoir. Herbon said the locally generated water, combined with the storage and future projects should be enough to protect San Diego County from drought restrictions for another 25 years.

At the same time, the lack of water in other parts of California could have a negative impact on the state’s energy supply. According to the California Independent System Operator’s website, hydroelectric plants are producing a quarter of the power they were producing at this time two years ago. The hot temperatures and decreased amount of water are just two of the reasons why California may be asked to conserve electricity with Flex Alerts towards the end of the summer months.

Herbon said conservation is already a part of San Diego County’s mindset when it comes to water.

“In the 1990s, our population expanded tremendously but our per capita use (of water) has almost gone down by 50%,’ she said.

San Diegans may have to learn to conserve electricity just as much.

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