City of San Diego Water Policy Overhaul: Watershed Moment for Quality of Life in the Region
Something truly noteworthy happened yesterday in San Diego. The San Diego City Council voted unanimously to approve Councilmember Sherri Lightner’s proposed overhaul of city water policies—the first of its kind in more than a decade. Kudos to Councilmember Lightner for her leadership on this critical issue.
Equinox Center played a crucial role in this advancement, providing expert counsel, written comments and empirical research on strategies to ensure a sustainable water supply for the region. In fact, Councilmember Lightner herself said: “Equinox Center was a key player in helping draft my Comprehensive Water Policy for the City of San Diego. The work it has done related to water in our region provided actionable data that improved the Policy. Equinox Center has a reputation for commonsense approaches to complex problems and its support and insight was instrumental.”
Ensuring a more sustainable and reliable water supply in the region impacts quality of life for every single person in San Diego County. How?
- You’ve felt it in your pocketbook when you’ve been penalized for other people’s water waste through pricing structures that don’t incentivize water efficiency.
- You’ve felt it when our economy is hurt by businesses being dissuaded from locating here due to the uncertainty of our region’s long-term water supply.
- You felt it just last month when an electrical blackout resulted in sewage spills, beach closures and boiled water advisories. Improving infrastructure and acknowledging the close relationship between our energy and water supply is vital to ensuring a safe and consistent water supply for the future.
The City of San Diego’s new plan is a truly bi-partisan, commonsense approach that is supported by business and environmental organizations alike, from San Diego Coastkeeper to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce to the San Diego County Apartment Association.
Councilmember Kevin Faulconer praised the plan for its “incentive and market-based provisions” while Councilmember Lori Zapf noted the plan’s significance in that “a predictable, stable water supply” is essential to the local business community and to fostering a strong economy.
What’s more, as the largest city in the County, decisions made by the San Diego City Council can help stimulate a regional shift in how we approach water policy in the region.
Equinox Center worked closely with Councilmember Lightner and her staff to provide expert input into development of this plan, in particular encouraging:
- An implementation plan with clear goals, priorities and timelines that enable the City to objectively evaluate progress and correct course as needed.
- Implementation of a tiered rate or budget based water pricing structure that encourages efficient use of water and discourages waste.
- Recognition of the relationship between energy and water and incorporating energy issues into water decisions.
- Supporting and considering partnerships with area businesses that are developing new technologies that will help us develop a more sustainable water supply and create new clean jobs in the region.
The newly approved water policy includes all of these elements. The next step will be to create an implementation plan that includes details of how the City will abide by the principles set out in the new policy. We are hopeful that the City Council and the stakeholders engaged in the process of creating the implementation plan will collectively help advance a more sustainable water supply for the region – an issue that impacts quality of life for each of us in San Diego County.
For more on water issues and solutions for the San Diego region, and how we
can solve them, please visit the following links.
H2Overview Series on Water Issues
Regional Overview: Water
Related Media Coverage and Blog Articles:
San Diego frames water policy for the future, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 18, 2011
Effective Water Pricing Needed as Resources Become More Scarce, September 1, 2011
Time is Now for a Long-Term Water Supply and Conservation Strategy, August 29, 2011