Photo: Lake Mead at 35% of capacity, triggering cuts for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico

In August, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declared a Stage 1 water shortage in the lower Colorado River Basin. The action requires mandatory cuts for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico and comes after 20 years of drought and declining water levels in Lake Mead. California has senior water rights on the river and remains protected from water supply cuts until a Stage 3 shortage declaration.

The shortage declaration is significant because most of the imported water we purchase comes from the Colorado River. Although the San Diego region has sufficient supplies for now thanks to high-priority water rights and investments in diversified supplies, we can all do our part to help. Voluntary efforts – as recently requested by California’s governor – can help delay shortages and improve conditions for our future. 

How do we have enough water during a drought?

Your water bills and your commitment to water conservation are the reason we have the water we need. Part of your bills paid for new water resources, including: ocean desalination, water transfer agreements in the Imperial and Coachella valleys, water recycling projects and conservation programs. They also paid for additional water storage in new or expanded dams here in San Diego County. We are all using less water, too. Our homes and businesses use half the amount of water they used in 1990. This allows us to store more water, which protects us during droughts. They also help reduce the cost of replacing and upgrading water systems.

As San Diegans, we have the water we need. We also know how to ensure water for our future. Let’s keep up our efforts and keep using water wisely.

Learn more about how San Diego is in a drought, but not a water shortage.

Watch our recent Water Chats to learn more about water efficiency rebates.


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