Living in southern California, the current drought is constantly a topic being discussed. Water conservation is on everyone’s mind. Many residents have begun replacing their green belts with drought tolerant landscape and looking for ways to improve water efficiency around the home. California is now in its fourth year of the drought. The drought has caused many to look toward technology innovation as a solution. But will innovation save our current water crisis?
Innovation and conservation efforts can only sustain for so long under current water policies. The fact is California’s water has been poorly mismanaged. Making this a man made California drought a statewide crisis. Our focus should be on reclamation projects, conservation, management, recycling, storage and desalination. The 2014, voter’s passed Prop 1 Water Bond giving $7.5 billion dollars towards water projects and improvements. Funds of up to $2.7 billion have been allocated for water storage projects. The bond also allocates funds for watershed protection and restoration as well as many other programs intended to conserve, update or improve our water infrastructure.
Our current desalination project here in San Diego County is yet another step towards securing our future water here in southern California. Due to start supplying as much as 50 gallons of drinking water a day to the San Diego region in late 2015. The Carlsbad desalination plant will provide up to 10% of our water needs. While this will not solve California’s drought crisis, it is one way to secure our future drinking water supply. Or why not build 10 of these plants with others planned to keep up with population growth? Problem solved.
Another subject that needs addressing is the way California collects and stores rainwater. We can implement rain-collecting systems and treat the water instead of the water washing out to sea. We get enough rain to supply about 30%-50% of our water needs. San Diego has seen the need to expand their storage capabilities. In case of water delivery interruptions the city has 6 months of emergency water storage. San Diego’s water storage capacity is growing because of investments to raise the San Vicente Dam raise. The dam was raised an additional 117 feet, which will provide 52, 100 acre-feet of water capacity at this dam. In total, San Diego has the capacity to store 600,000 acre-feet of water. With reservoirs at about 40% total combined, this is a start.
The current man made California drought can find relief. Technology can only take us so far, what we need are full functioning water reserves that covers the daily needs of the 3.1 million residents who reside in San Diego. If San Diego’s storage reserves were at capacity, the county would have enough water stored for about 4 years.