San Vicente Reservoir expansion completed, will ease drought woes
The recent dedication of the expansion of the San Vicente Reservoir comes on the heels of restrictions in the use of water outdoors in the county. Commemorating, after five years, the completion of the $415 million project, more than 150 San Diego civic and business leaders assembled to make a statement concerning the county’s readiness to supply water now and for the immediate future.
In what has been described as the largest increase in water storage capacity ever in the county, the Lakeside reservoir received a 100% increase in size, adding 152,00 acre-feet of available storage and raising the height of the dam to 337 feet, an increase of 117 feet. The increase will allow for the accumulation and holding of 52,000 more acre-feet for strictly emergency use, as well as 100,000 acre feet as a resource during years of low rainfall, such as the dry year just completed.
The building of new pipelines and pumps, as well as the dam raise, are part of a vast effort to counteract the high drought conditions now moving into the mountain and desert regions of San Diego County. The area has now entered the second most extreme drought category established by the U.S. Drought Monitor service. To learn what you can do to help in these time of drought, go here, and for more info, click here.
The previous 12 months have been recorded as the hottest year with the third lowest amount of rainfall since monitoring began back in 1895, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The two years with less rain were 1923-24 and 1976-77. The current drought conditions and subsequent water restrictions have been caused, in large part, by the past three years all being in the top 20 of dry years.
That is the first time this has ever occurred, and certainly has helped prompt the one and a half billion dollar San Diego Water Authority project just completed. The resulting system of pipes, pumps and reservoirs, once full, will give the county a 6-month reserve of drinking water. That filling process is expected to take approximately five years. Factors such as rainfall and demand will determine that actual amount of time needed.
The largest portion of water that will fill San Vicente comes from the Colorado River and Northern California sources. Two Metropolitan Water District aqueducts will carry water to the newly-enlarged lake. Not only will the larger reservoir hold much more liquid, but its new connection to an eleven-mile-long pipe will allow the water to flow more quickly into San Vicente.
The expense of maintaining the bigger reservoir is to be met by both the city of San Diego and the Water Authority.