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CWA to work with local agencies for regional storage

The San Diego County Water Authority will be working with member agencies and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive regional strategy for managing local surface storage reservoirs.

The unanimous SDCWA board vote April 22 directs CWA staff to work with member agencies which own and operate local reservoirs and to use existing local agency operations as a baseline to identify and integrate strategic opportunities to maximize and optimize CWA and local agency storage for long-term carryover and seasonal peak demand management. The intent of the policy is to protect local agency investments while reviewing the viability of the region’s drinking water reservoirs and related systems, identifying opportunities to optimize local yield with potential infrastructure and operational improvements, identifying strategies to optimize the storage of imported or locally-produced water to enhance supply reliability and to manage peak demands, and developing guiding principles for the long-term utilization of the region’s reservoirs. The strategic plan will be completed by December 31, 2011, so that it can be incorporated into the 2012 update of the CWA’s Regional Water Facilities Master Plan.

“I think we can do it. Always willing to work with other agencies,” said Ramona Municipal Water District general manager Ralph McIntosh, who is Ramona’s representative on the CWA board. “I think it’s a very viable project to work on.”

The February 25 board meeting saw some interest in the development of a comprehensive regional strategy, although member agencies noted that they constructed the storage reservoirs with funds from their own ratepayers and need to operate those reservoirs for the benefit of their ratepayers without relinquishing any control of local production. It was also learned that environmental compliance is often reservoir-specific and would best be left to member agencies. The CWA’s March 25 action continued the issue to the April meeting.

“We’d like to do some work with our reservoirs and not impinge on the autonomy of each of our agencies,” said Fern Steiner, who is one of the City of San Diego’s representatives on the CWA board.

While at one time the coordination actions were to be incorporated into the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan, fears that use of the UWMP could make identified solutions a

requirement led to the change to reference the 2012 Water Facilities Master Plan. “That is a Water Authority only planning document,” said CWA director of water resources Ken Weinberg. “There was some concern that we referenced the Urban Water Management Plan.”

The Ramona Municipal Water District built Lake Ramona for local storage purposes. “We will have challenges that will be very specific to us,” McIntosh said. “We’ll have to work through those.”

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