San Diego's Water Supply

There is not a moment to waste! We're in a water crisis.san diego drinking water

San Diego County does not have enough local water supply to meet our demands. Our county draws 80 percent of our drinkable water from outside the area. In the City of San Diego, that number soars to 90 percent. Rather than solving our own problems, we suck almost half of what we use from the Colorado River (named the Most Endangered River in America in 2013) and another half from the San Joaquin River Delta in Northern California.

Importing water to San Diego means using energy, a lot of it. According to the California Energy Commission, transporting water throughout the state requires 19 percent of California's electricity, consumes 32 percent of the state's natural gas supplies and uses 88 million gallons of diesel, exacerbating climate change concerns.

San Diego Coastkeeper partners with a variety of organizations to research and advocate for solutions. The Equinox Center published a report in 2010 that provides a non-partisan, independent analysis of water supply alternatives. Read the summary or full report.

Turning on a tap in San Diego County is expensive and unsustainable. So we have to make important decisions now to reduce our water demand and boost our supply.

A new vision for water management

wastewater recylingWe must change the way we discuss water. Stormwater, wastewater and drinking water options are a comprehensive water quality and water supply system, not isolated issues.

San Diego Coastkeeper helps in developing an integrated regional water plan that addresses San Diego County's water supply issues by prioritizing conservation and water reuse and recycling before options like water imports and desalination.

Following nearly two decades of advocacy by San Diego Coastkeeper and our partners, in 2013, the City of San Diego councilmembers unanimously supported a plan to transform the city's wastewater management system into a source of 80 million to 100 million gallons per day of clean, pure drinking water. This strategy, which works in Orange County, will replace approximately 50 percent of the imports used in the City of San Diego. We will see this plan come to fruition in a visionary, responsible manner by working with city, regional and state decision-makers. Sign up for a tour of the demonstration project to learn more. Or read the 2005 Water Reuse Study that put the plan in motion.

Coastkeeper represents this thinking at the state level as a stakeholder on the planning group for the Integrated Regional Water Management program, a local water resources management approach preferred by the governor, California Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board. It aims to secure long-term water supply reliability within California by connecting water supply and the environment and pursuing projects that benefit water supplies, water quality and our community. (back to top)

Help ensure San Diego's supply of clean water

You can make simple changes at home to conserve water and reduce our need. You can learn more about water supply options such as conservation, wastewater recycling, rain water harvesting, graywater harvesting and desalination. Sign up for our electronic news to learn about upcoming hearings encouraging smart reuse and opportunities for you to support environmentally protective decision-making. (back to top)

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Donate to San Diego Coastkeeper

With you, we can protect San Diego’s aquatic playgrounds. Gifts of every size help us defend your salty seas and beautiful bays. From test tubes in our lab to hands-on...

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Start Coastkeeping. Become a member today and protect and restore swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters in San Diego County.


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If you see someone pollute, report it to Coastkeeper. Let us help you protect your waters.

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Equinox Center Releases 2013 Dashboard, …

Equinox Center Releases 2013 Dashboard, Talks Region's Waters

Each year San Diego’s Equinox Center releases a Quality of Life Dashboard which analyzes the area’s environment, economy and communities for the year. As a San Diegan and San Diego...

More San Diego Teachers Are Getting SWEL…

More San Diego Teachers Are Getting SWELL!

Project SWELL has been busy preparing San Diego’s future leaders to understand the role of water in our region and in our future by preparing those who teach them to...

The Water Authority Misses the Mark...Ag…

The Water Authority Misses the Mark...Again

It probably won’t surprise you that as San Diego Coastkeeper’s Waterkeeper I spend a lot of my time thinking about water- the best sources, the best methods and the best...

Educators Come Together to Discuss Scien…

Educators Come Together to Discuss Science Curricula, Including Project Swell

San Diego Coastkeeper recently had the exciting opportunity to take part in the San Diego Science Educators Association conference. The conference serves as an opportunity for educators of all grade...

Tank that Leak: A Quick Fix to Save Wate…

Tank that Leak: A Quick Fix to Save Water

"Fix A Leak Week" ended. I'm pretty sure that some of us still have a leak or two that can be fixed, though, and that will save thousands upon thousands...

Single Use Can Mean Permanent Harm

Single Use Can Mean Permanent Harm

After every beach cleanup we are hit with ample evidence of the ubiquity of paper and plastic products in our everyday lives. It is quite clear that these products are...

What A Waste: The Hidden Waste of Water …

What A Waste: The Hidden Waste of Water Leaks

Did you know that March 17-23 is Fix a Leak Week? Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this week brings attention to water leaks, which are a serious concern, especially...

San Diego's Waters Deserve Our Best

San Diego's Waters Deserve Our Best

The following was written by Coastkeeper’s Jo Brooks and Everett Delano of our board of directors in response to a February 23 U-T San Diego editorial that criticized stormwater runoff...

What's A Little Rain When You Have A Mys…

What's A Little Rain When You Have A Mystery to Solve?

Despite the stormy Friday morning weather, my water quality partner and I were excited to get to the bottom of a still unsolved mystery—the sources of urban runoff. Because rain...

Weather Doesn't Dampen Resolve to Get An…

Weather Doesn't Dampen Resolve to Get Answers

While most of you were trying to stay dry and cozy during this past storm, several intrepid volunteers offered to brave the elements and help us figure out the source...

Drinkable Facts

  • Recent research estimated that gastrointestinal illnesses caused by contaminated coastal waters translated into an annual economic loss of $21 or $51 million.
  • Recent research estimated that contaminated coastal waters at beaches in Los Angeles and Orange County caused between 627,800 and 1,479,200 cases of gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • The Potable Water Reuse facility could reduce the cost to upgrade the Point Loma sewage treatment facility by almost 50%.
  • The State Water Project, which brings water from Northern California down to Southern California, uses an average 5 billion kWh/yr of electricity - making it the largest single energy user in the state.
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