A few months ago a prestigious Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) delivered its report outlining challenges and opportunities for Metropolitan Water District (MWD) to the year 2060. MWD is the largest supplier of drinking water in theUS, supplying water to 14 cities and 12 municipal water districts that then provide water to 18 million Californians.
In this report, the BRC analyzed risks and opportunity costs of planning under current and plausible future trends in MWD service area for the next 50 years. Most interestingly, the BRC found, “In many plausible future scenarios, the share of imports in the region’s portfolio from the State Water Project [Delta water] and Colorado River Aqueduct is likely to decrease… Under these scenarios, locally developed supplies will need to increase from their current level and transfers from agricultural water users also pursued.” [emphasis added]
The BRC also found that if MWD’s business model is not revised, the decline in supplies from the Delta and Colorado River combined with the difficulty in rate increases will make it difficult for the agency to maintain its existing infrastructure or invest in a new conveyance structure, fund the restoration of the Delta, or play a leading role in developing new local supplies.
Looking further out to 2060, the BRC finds that a wide range of economic, demographic, climate, and other conditions could prevail in which the import-focused revenue model and existing governance structure could prove constraining and impose risks to Metropolitan’s long-run financial viability.
The BRC report finds that in order to preserve the reliability and affordability of water, agencies will have to transition from an imported water dominant portfolio to a diversified portfolio, with a greater percentage coming for local water supply investments. This report reinforces what PCL has long maintained: it is not only an environmental imperative to transition reducing reliance on imported water, but it is also financial imperative as well.