Padre Dam Municipal Water District’s representative on the San Diego County Water Authority Board, Doug Wilson, voted in support of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Desalination Project Thursday evening. Padre Dam believes this project is key to water supply reliability for San Diego County. A reliable and safe water supply is crucial to the vitality of our service area and the entire San Diego region.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Thursday voted to approve a landmark agreement to purchase up to 56,000 acre-feet of water annually from what will be the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant in Carlsbad. The plant is expected to start producing up to 50 million gallons a day in 2016.
“Desalinated seawater is a huge step toward greater water reliability for the San Diego region. However, this project will cause customers to see an increase in water rates. Padre Dam is continuing to work with the County Water Authority to ensure the desalination rate impact is as fair and equitable as possible among all of County Water Authority member agencies,” commented Doug Wilson, Padre Dam Board Member and County Water Authority representative.
Desalinated water is expected to impact rates for Padre Dam customers and all San Diego County water agencies. The estimated price for desalination is expected to impact customer bills by at least $5 per month. The County Water Authority will conduct a cost of service study to determine how expenses will impact ratepayers. Costs are expected to vary by member agency depending on the different characteristics of each agency. Padre Dam plans to play an active role in the cost of service study with the best interest of our ratepayers in mind. Padre Dam currently imports 100 percent of our potable water supply from the San Diego County Water Authority. Therefore Padre Dam customers are directly impacted by how the County Water Authority determines rates and fees.
While desalination water will initially cost more than current water supply sources, the County Water Authority’s analysis shows that imports from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California could be more expensive than desalinated seawater by the late 2020s.
Padre Dam is dedicated to exploring alternative water resources for the benefit of our customers. The District is currently studying the possibility of developing our own local water supply. This would increase reliability and potentially stabilize costs for our customers. Padre Dam has partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation to study the regulatory and engineering viability of an Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) treatment system – the Santee Basin Aquifer Recharge Project. If the study results are positive, the program could replace up to 15 percent of the water the District currently imports.
Padre Dam is committed to keeping rates and fees fair and equitable to customers while ensuring the safety and reliability of the water we provide to our customers. Tap water continues to be the best deal around at approximately a penny per gallon. Compared to what we pay for a gallon of bottled water, milk or gas water is a true bargain.