Chris Stiedemann of Poseidon Water looks over the giant filers that remove microscopic impurities from the seawater. Photo by Chris Jennewein

State-mandated water restrictions in San Diego County will be eased soon from 20 percent to 13 percent on average, thanks to the new desalination plant in Carlsbad, officials announced Thursday.

The San Diego County Water Authority said state regulators have certified the supply of potable water from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant as drought-resilient.

The plant, which opened in December, is the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant and produces about 50 million gallons per day of high-quality, drought-proof water.

Mark Weston, chair of the water authority’s board of directors, said the news “provides welcome relief from some of the unintended negative consequences of the state’s emergency water-use mandates.

“The state’s approval of local supply credits means that our local communities’ investments in drought-resilient water supplies will be rewarded during dry periods, and reinforces our region’s supply diversification strategy to improve water reliability,” he added.

The water authority and its member agencies will now to work with the State Water Resources Control Board to set new water conservation standards for different areas of San Diego County.

However, the region will still need to conserve water. Record-breaking high temperatures in February, combined with very little rain, put significant upward pressure on water use. Despite El Niño conditions, the snowpack is below average in key parts of the state.

From June 2015 through January, the San Diego region reduced potable water use by 23 percent compared to the same months in 2013. Conserved water has been stored in the recently expanded San Vicente Reservoir.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.