Gearing up For Long-Term Water Use Efficiency by Dave Eggerton Jan 15, 2021 Voices on Water If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are highly skilled at delivering essential services to their customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on vital issues affecting California water management, including the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency strategies to increase resiliency in dry years. Following California’s most recent drought, new landmark legislation was passed that laid out a long-term water conservation and drought planning framework for California (SB 606 and AB 1668). As 2021 ramps up, ACWA will continue to work with state agencies and our agricultural and urban members to implement the framework through the development of new programs that are protective of local decision-making, attainable, cost-effective and promote sound policy. This will include coordination on the State Water Resource Control Board’s formal rulemaking for the water loss regulation that is expected to be initiated this month, the development of 2020 Agricultural Water Management Plans and Urban Water Management Plans, and the Department of Water Resources’ recommendations for indoor and outdoor water use efficiency standards. ACWA’s multiple water use efficiency working groups will continue to meet regularly to discuss policy and technical input to inform these efforts and to share their expertise and best practices in water use efficiency and drought planning with an eye toward the future and the impacts of climate change to our state’s water resources. Legislation aside, our member agencies continue to utilize local solutions to prepare for dry years. This includes investing in projects and programs that diversify supplies and advance conservation and water use efficiency. One example is the East County Advanced Water Purification Project, which is a collaborative partnership between San Diego County agencies: Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Helix Water District, the County of San Diego and the City of El Cajon to create a new, local, reliable and drought-proof drinking water supply. The project is expected to be fully operational by 2026 and is estimated to produce up to 30% of East San Diego County’s drinking water supply. Likewise, Soquel Creek Water District is constructing the innovative Pure Water Soquel Project that will use advanced-treated recycled water from Santa Cruz to replenish the critically overdrafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. This project aims to help bring the basin back to sustainability, provide a drought-proof water supply for the community and provide a barrier against seawater intrusion. These are just a few examples of the many ways our members are continuously investing in innovative, collaborative strategies to prepare for future dry conditions whenever they may occur. While every water manager hopes this winter finishes with a much better snowpack than measured during the state’s first snow survey, we know our local water agencies will be ready to meet the challenges of this, and each and every, year. To a healthy and resilient 2021!