Retail Water Supply Reliability Information
Changes to State Water Resources Control Board Emergency Regulations
On May 9, 2016, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-37-16 “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life” that extended the Emergency Regulations to January 31, 2017. In response to this, on May 18th, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted revised regulations that, instead of imposing a mandatory conservation rate, will allow each water agency to set their own conservation rates.
To do this, we must conduct a “stress test,” that is, examine the projected reliability of all of our water supply resources over the next three years, and assume that water demand is high, and that precipitation levels are low.
EOCWD completed this analysis and determined that we have a long-term, structural deficit of water, despite average rainfall this past winter that has refilled many of the state’s reservoirs. However, there are changes in our water supply resources that began in the late 2000s that were not affected by this year’s rainfall. Below you will find detailed information on the analysis we conducted that support this conclusion. Because of this analysis, on June 16th, the Board of Directors voted to reduce the required conservation rate from 36% to 15%.
Some customers may ask why other water agencies have adopted different conservation rates or came to different conclusions. Each agency conducted its own analysis and must certify that analysis under penalty of law. Agencies may have other sources of water or came to different conclusions depending upon their location, supplies of water and future plans.
Here is an excerpt from the study:
“Regardless of the drought, there is a systemic, long-term level of water supply shortage in both the District’s local and imported water supplies and there are no short-term solutions, besides conservation, that can address the shortages that will occur with increasing frequency...
The regional foresight in funding and building the Groundwater Replenishment System has provided us with access to a reliable new water supply; however it doesn’t totally replace the Santa Ana River recharge that has been lost, and the cost of this supply is substantially higher than the River flows we lost [to the Inland Empire’s increased recovery of their reclaimed water and Santa Ana River flows.].
MET [wholesale water supplier Metropolitan Water District of Southern California] is one of 29 State Water Project (SWP) contractors and the largest single contractor by far. As shown in the table below, with contractual rights totaling 1.9 Million Acre Feet per Year (MAFY) in the SWP, during the period 2001-2007, MET averaged deliveries of 1.4 MAF. For the period 2008-2015, MET has averaged about 750,000 AFY from the SWP due to a series of Endangered Species Act (ESA) legal challenges (which were subsequently upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court).
The instantaneous loss of an average of 650,000 AF per year for the past 8 years has been a grave blow to Southern California’s water supply. From an operational and reliability standpoint, we lost 5.2 MAF that could have been placed into storage, been available during this drought and relieved pressure on the Colorado River system. As importantly, SWP deliveries prior to 2007 were relatively consistent, with perhaps 1 out of 10 years being reduced below 50% of the maximum amount. For the last 8 out of 10 years, SWP deliveries have been less than 50% of maximum and 3 of those have been less than 30%.... For the [north Orange County] service area, MET is assuming that conservation will help offset 14% of the “total demand.” Because of this, continued conservation at an average level of at least 14% will be necessary for MET to achieve their [water supply] goals.
Our customers lost hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of landscaping. Removing conservation goals may send the wrong message: that the structural water supply shortages are over and they can reinvest in water intensive landscaping. Every time we have a dry winter, there is the potential that the state will require mandatory cutbacks again, our customers would be rightfully upset that they weren’t advised of this potential and that investments in California –friendly landscaping would be prudent.
Additionally, rapidly increasing water costs and periodic shortages may have far-reaching economic and food supply impacts for the state, and may pit urban and agricultural interests against each other. Some businesses may relocate due to water/energy uncertainties and farmers are unable to produce crop yields that financially sustain them through years when they must fallow their land.
GWRS water is still less expensive than imported water, so that has mitigated the some of the financial effects for the District, but the aggressive conservation required last year reveals a fundamental weakness in our pricing structure in that we can’t totally cover our fixed costs with our fixes fees. Our proposed rate increase anticipates a continued 15% reduction in water demand from our customers and has been priced into the rate. This will help us avoid large rate increases that are unanticipated by our ratepayers, especially those on fixed incomes.”
The worksheet below was submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board on June 22, 2016, establishing that sufficient supplies of water are apparently available for the next three years to meet forecasted demands:
This table shows the reduction in water deliveries to Metropolitan Water District starting in 2008.
This table shows the anticipated reduced levels of base flow from the Santa Ana River, and that annual demand exceeds the annual recharge by more than 100,000 AF:
This table shows the amount of imported water available from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the next three years – note that MWD anticipates that continued conservation will allow them to meet this demand: