The remote Olivenhain Dam is part of the San Diego County Water Authority’s investment in resilient water supplyafter. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The San Diego County Water Authority on Monday praised Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to cut one of the two planned Bay-Delta tunnels and invited him to tour San Diego’s facilities.

Board Chair Jim Madaffer thanked the governor for “wisdom and leadership” in officially scrapping the Brown administration’s plans for an $18 billion two-tunnel system for moving water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta to Southern California in favor of a less-expensive single tunnel.

“We congratulate you on Executive Order N-10-19 and stand ready to support you and work with other stakeholders to ensure its success,” Madaffer wrote in a letter to Newsom. “If state and federal dollars are prioritized to support local, integrated planning solutions, we will realize the state’s 2009 promise to reduce demand on the Bay-Delta.”

Newsom’s order directed his administration to “identify and assess a suite of complementary actions to ensure safe and resilient water supplies,” and Madaffer said San Diego has long experience in that approach.

“Almost two decades ago, the water authority’s board of directors chose to take affirmative steps to change what had been an ‘end-of-the-pipeline’ mentality, when our agency relied greatly on water imported from the Bay-Delta,” Madaffer said. “In other words, we embraced then the intent of Executive Order N-10-19, and believe our experience is proof that it can be done.”

San Diego County relied almost entirely on external water supplies until 1991, when it began a series of investments in dams, pipelines, aqueducts and a giant desalination plant.

“After suffering the devastating impacts of drought and water shortages that year, our community got to work, determined to gain local control over the cost and reliability of our water,” Madaffer said. “Since then, the water authority and its member agencies have invested over $2 billion in local projects.”

“Every dollar of investment the water authority has made represents a commensurate reduction of take on the Bay-Delta,” said Madaffer.

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Chris Jennewein

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