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State to limit water supply deliveries in 2009, Water Authority intensifies call for water conservation

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Water Authority has intensified its call for immediate water conservation following the state Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) announcement to limit water deliveries in 2009.

The initial allocation – 15 percent – is the second lowest in the history of the State Water Project.

The announcement means that water agencies, including the Water Authority, that rely on the State Water Project may receive far less water in 2009 than in 2008, which was a critically dry year.

Last year, the initial allocation was 25 percent, which was eventually raised to 35 percent for the year.

In recent years, San Diego County has received approximately 30 percent of its water supply from the State Water Project.

Fern Steiner, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority, said the news dramatically underscores the need for people to increase their water-saving actions immediately.

“This initial allocation means water supplies statewide are approaching record low levels,” said Steiner. “It is likely that next year we will have less water available to meet the needs of San Diego County. It is imperative that residents, businesses and public agencies redouble their efforts to reduce water use whenever and wherever possible, especially outdoors.”

DWR made its initial allocation announcement about one month earlier than normal this year to give water agencies time to prepare for delivery cutbacks and to strategize drought response plans for 2009.

Steiner said the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies expected a low initial allocation this year. State reservoirs are near historic low levels due to two consecutive years of dry weather conditions and court-ordered pumping restrictions to protect threatened fish species.

“We’ve been preparing for deteriorating water supply conditions, including working with our local retail member agencies to adopt drought ordinances that establish specific water use restrictions that correspond to escalating stages of water supply shortages,” Steiner said.

Water officials estimate it would take a 70-percent allocation from the State Water Project to keep storage levels from diminishing further next year.


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