February 27, 2015

Santa Margarita Water District Director Kicks Off Drought Response Workshop


The Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) and the National Water Research Institute (NWRI), in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), hosted a 2015 Drought Response Workshop this week to discuss managing California’s water supply during this historic drought.

Santa Margarita Water District Director Charley Wilson welcomed attendees to the two-day conference, which was held in Irvine. In addition to serving as an elected director on Orange County's second-largest water agency, Wilson is Chariman of the Southern California Water Committee.


Californians are paying more attention than ever to the severity of the state’s water shortage, with a new Field Poll showing that 94 percent of voters consider the drought “serious,” with 68 percent describing it as “extremely serious.”

More than 150 attendees came to the two-day event, which featured seminars led by key state and local water leaders on the latest statewide water conditions, drought response actions, proposed emergency regulations, and projections on what is in store for 2015.

 “Decades of drought planning, forward-thinking investments, and conservation have sustained us through years of little to no water; however, the challenge is greater every day the drought drags on,” said SCWC Executive Director Rich Atwater. “Water agencies are going to great lengths to maximize water supplies, but ultimately no one is insulated from the impacts of this drought. As we brace for a fourth painfully dry year, it’s crucial that Californians throughout the state make every effort to conserve water.”

Officials from DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board provided attendees with the latest information on current water conditions and potential emergency water regulations and restrictions. In addition, engineers (including experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) spoke on innovations in climate forecasting and water recycling technologies. Water agency officials also discussed potential drought response actions, including new drought allocation plans for Southern California, as well as the more than $200 million in water conservation rebate programs that agencies are funding to help make cutting down on water use affordable and easy.

“The water supply outlook is very challenging, but we are very focused on innovative, collaborative ways to minimize the impacts of this drought,” said NWRI Executive Director Jeff Mosher. “This is a time to work together to advance actions and solutions that help us both now and in the future.”

DWR Deputy Drought Director Jeanine Jones put California’s water supply situation in perspective for workshop attendees, noting:

  • 2012-2014 have been the driest three consecutive years in California’s history, based on statewide precipitation.
  • Water storage levels in state reservoirs remain far below average. For example, Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir for the State Water Project, is at just 49 percent of capacity, compared to the historical average of 70 percent for this time of year.
  • Lack of snow is projected to significantly limit the amount of water that melts and flows through rivers and to storage facilities. Runoff is projected to be less than half of the historical average in April-July 2015 for key rivers.

“Winter has only brought a fraction of the rain and snow needed to emerge from drought, and there’s only a short window of time left for storms to come through—it’s going to be a very trying year for California,” commented DWR Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones.

Water agencies, local government and state leaders urge conservation statewide through water efficiency incentives and are collectively working to meet the state’s water needs. For more information on water conservation and drought response, including SCWC’s 2014 Drought Response Infographic, please visit www.socalwater.org.

About Southern California Water Committee:

Established in 1984, the Southern California Water Committee is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public education partnership dedicated to informing Southern Californians about our water needs and our state’s water resources. Spanning Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial, Riverside, Ventura and Kern counties, the SCWC’s members include representatives from business, government, agriculture, water agencies, labor and the general public. See www.socalwater.org and find SCWC on Facebook.

About National Water Research Institute:

A 501c3 non-profit, the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) of Fountain Valley, California, sponsors projects and programs focused on ensuring safe, reliable sources of water now and for future generations. For more information, visit www.nwri-usa.org


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