Metropolitan Moves Ahead With Seawater Desalination, Pipeline to Augment the Region's Reliable Water Supply
Tuesday October 8, 7:16 pm ET

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 8, 2002--Actions to further bolster the reliability of Southern California's water supplies through the region's inevitable dry spells and droughts were taken on two projects today by the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

"While we're proud of our accomplishments, which have provided the region with dependable water supplies during the worst year for rainfall here in recorded history, we're not resting on our laurels," said Metropolitan Board Chairman Phillip J. Pace.

"These two projects will augment and enhance the dependability of our water for decades to come," Pace said.

A major pipeline that will benefit the rapidly developing area of Temecula, in southwestern Riverside County, and which will eventually be extended to San Diego County, was given the green light. The board authorized $6.5 million for design work and the start of land acquisition for the north reach of San Diego Pipeline No. 6.

And desalting the Pacific Ocean for drinking water was moved forward when a board committee directed staff to investigate tripling the amount of desalinated seawater that Metropolitan would subsidize. Staff members also were told to prepare principles and terms for contracts with the five member agencies that have proposed seawater desalination plants to Metropolitan for subsidies.

When completed in 2006, the north reach of San Diego Pipeline No. 6, an approximately $100 million project, will deliver water from the Colorado River and the State Water Project to the Eastern Municipal Water District and the Western Municipal Water District of Riverside County. They, in turn, will deliver the water to the Rancho California Water District at Temecula, where the ability to store water in an aquifer until it is needed will help reduce the increasing demands on Metropolitan's nearby Skinner Filtration Plant.

On seawater desalination, Metropolitan's goal for developing desalinated water is currently 50,000 acre-feet annually (an acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, enough water for an average family's needs for two years). Today, the board's Water Planning, Quality and Resources Committee directed staff to investigate the costs and benefits of increasing the target to 150,000 acre-feet annually to enhance the region's buffer against dry spells and droughts. Staff was also directed to identify other recycling and conservation programs that could be accelerated to increase the region's long-term water reliability.

Metropolitan has received proposals to build seawater desalination plants from five of its member agencies: San Diego County Water Authority, Long Beach Water Department, Municipal Water District of Orange County, West Basin Municipal Water District and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

On another development, the board elected to forego the Cadiz Water Storage and Supply Project. The action was taken because of dramatically changed conditions on the Colorado River, making it unlikely that there would be sufficient surplus water to store as the proposed program anticipated in the near-term.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 17 million people in six counties. The District imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other water-management programs.