Ground water storage in Kern County
Groundwater storage at the Semitropic Water Storage District in Kern County. Courtesy of the agency

The San Diego County Water Authority has stepped up to provide additional water supplies to drought-ravaged areas in three Southern California counties.

Under an agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, San Diego will provide water from an underground storage facility in Kern County to serve parts of northern Los Angeles County, Ventura County and San Bernardino County.

“Metropolitan is committed to doing everything we can to bring more water to communities in our service area that are particularly challenged by the drought. We’re thrilled to have the Water Authority partner with us in this effort, supporting the well-being of all Southern California,” said Metropolitan Water Chair Gloria D. Gray.

“We’re all in this together. And we all need to do our part, including using water as efficiently as possible,” added Gray.

Under terms of the agreement, Metropolitan Water will purchase 4,200 acre-feet of the Water Authority’s reserves in the Semitropic Water Bank next year and lease an additional 5,000 acre-feet from the Water Authority’ account.

One acre-foot is 326,000 gallons, enough to serve about three typical Southern California homes for a year.

“We expect that this will be the first of many innovative and collaborative solutions with Metropolitan to sustain our collective economy and quality of life,” said Water Authority Chair Gary Croucher.

In 2008, the Water Authority secured supplies in the water bank for the San Diego region in preparation for drought. Due to other supply and storage investments and sustained water conservation in San Diego County, the Water Authority does not need to tap its account to meet the region’s projected water demands in 2022.

Water years 2020 and 2021 were the driest two-year sequence on record in California. In August, Lake Oroville — the main reservoir on the State Water Project — reached its lowest point since being filled in the 1970s.

Earlier this month, the state announced that if conditions don’t improve, State Water Project deliveries next year would be limited to only what is required to ensure the health and safety of residents.

Access to supplies in the Semitropic Water Bank is important because it is strategically located along the California Aqueduct and can supplement the limited state project deliveries.

Chris Jennewein

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