Rancho Santa Fe water district reports that water supplies remain adequate despite statewide drought


Despite a statewide drought declaration on Jan. 17 by Governor Jerry Brown, the Santa Fe Irrigation District has adequate imported water supplies for 2014 because of local investments in diverse and more reliable water supplies over the past two decades and a long-term decrease in regional water demand.

The District’s wholesale imported water supplier, the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), is not projecting the need for countywide water-use restrictions this year, though the SDCWA is closely monitoring hydrologic conditions across the Southwest. Both the District and SDCWA are encouraging residents and businesses to use water as efficiently as possible to avoid water waste.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency because areas of California have been hit hard by low water supply availability after two consecutive dry years and the start of a third. The Department of Water Resources’ snowpack survey in early January showed snow levels at 20 percent of normal – tied for the lowest such measurement for that time of year. The Colorado River Basin, another major source of water for Southern California, is faring better with the snowpack at about average for this time of year. However, 11 of the past 14 years have been dry in the Colorado River Basin, and the system’s main reservoirs collectively are less than half full.

Locally, precipitation at Lindbergh Field was only 70 percent of normal between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. The decrease in precipitation affects the District’s local water supply, where the District obtains on average, approximately 30 percent of its water from Lake Hodges. For this fiscal year, the District is projecting only 11 percent of local water and will need to take an additional $700,000 out of reserves to cover the expense of purchasing imported water (See story on this web site, News category).

The San Diego region imports about 85 percent of its water supplies. This year’s imports from the State Water Project are expected to be very low due to low water storage levels in that system, poor hydrological conditions and regulatory restrictions. However, the SDCWA’s largest provider of water – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – has said it has adequate stored water reserves and doesn’t expect to impose allocations this year.

The governor’s declaration directs state agencies to expedite the processing of voluntary water transfers, enact a statewide water conservation campaign, implement water-use reduction plans at all state facilities and take other actions to provide assistance to farmers and communities that are damaged economically by dry conditions.

In 2006, the SDCWA and its member agencies, including the Santa Fe Irrigation District, developed and approved a plan for taking an orderly, progressive approach to managing water supplies during worsening supply conditions. The SDCWA’s board will use the plan as guidance for assessing potential regional actions to take this year in response to the supply forecast for the San Diego region in 2014 and beyond. The District will monitor the SDCWA’s discussions and take the appropriate actions to ensure the District has adequate water supplies.

In 2008, the governor’s declaration called for Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent by the year 2020. The District’s water users have made great strides in water-use efficiency. Per capita water use has decreased about 24 percent since 2007, and local cities and other water districts are on pace to meet their state-mandated water-efficiency targets for 2020. Total San Diego regional consumption of potable water in 2013 was 24 percent lower than in 2007.

The District offer rebates, tools and educational programs to improve water-use efficiency at homes, businesses and institutions. For more information, go to the District’s website at or visit the WaterSmart link at

— Submitted by Santa Fe Irrigation District