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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California prepares for tomorrow through an evolving long-term water strategy known as its Integrated Water Resources Plan, or IRP. The inaugural IRP was adopted in 1996 to address the complexity of developing, maintaining and delivering water to meet changing demands in the face of growing challenge. The plan has been updated several times over the past 25 years. In 2020 we started afresh with a new IRP that will incorporate different scenarios for the future. The IRP is a regional example of the long-term, diversified strategy Gov. Newsom is seeking statewide through his Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative.
Metropolitan’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan was developed as part of the IRP planning process. Learn more about the UWMP
“Metropolitan has seen first-hand the successes that come with long-term planning and diversified water supply portfolio. In fact, Metropolitan was among the first water agencies to take this approach when we initiated our Integrated Resources Plan two and a half decades ago."
-Metropolitan Board Chairwoman Gloria GrayOn July 28, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio. Learn more about the initiative: http://waterresilience.ca.gov/
The IRP anticipates how much water Southern California can expect from its imported and local supplies and forecasts regional water demands to determine whether there will be a supply-demand gap in the future. It can then help identify potential courses of action. Past plans looked at a single forecast of supplies and demands. Given all the uncertainties the region faces, the 2020 IRP looks at multiple scenarios that could plausibly unfold in the future due to climate change, economic growth, legislation and regulations affecting water sources and demands, and other variables. With the variability of these impacts in mind, Metropolitan is developing four scenarios to help understand the challenges of the future and effectively plan to ensure water reliability in the face of those challenges. The framework shown below was developed to help construct these plausible future scenarios, which consider ranges of imported supply and demand on Metropolitan.
Key drivers of change such as climate change, regulatory requirements, and the economy will have uncertain but potentially significant effects on both water supply and demands. These and many other drivers of change were identified through a collaborative process with Metropolitan’s stakeholders. The process of quantifying the impacts of these drivers within each scenario is underway. A qualitative assessment of the key drivers within each scenario is shown below:
Metropolitan has enlisted the support of expert consultants in the fields of water demand and climate change to help us better understand the key drivers affecting future water reliability. These experts responded to initial charge questions from Metropolitan staff, engaged with board members and member agency staff during workshops, and continue to respond to follow up questions. Their final memos will be included in the appendices to the IRP.
Southern California’s future population growth, housing mix and economy are drivers that will have considerable influence on future demands on Metropolitan supplies. To better understand these drivers, Metropolitan enlisted five consultants with diverse expertise in these issues. On March 23, 2021, they participated in a three-hour board workshop to share insights on key influences of future water demands in Southern California.
Co-owner and senior water resources engineer with Maddaus Water Management Inc.
Director and Senior Economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto
Senior Vice President and Global One Water Practice Leader for CDM Smith
CEO of A & N Technical Services, Inc.
Expert on economic issues and water use, agricultural production, urban water conservation, ecosystem services, and environmental regulation
Learn about the insights they provided:
Southern California’s water future will be profoundly impacted by our changing climate. Metropolitan hosted a three-hour workshop on May 25 to engage with experts to better understand uncertainties for water supply related to climate change.
Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, Department of Soil, Water and Climate.
Research Director at Aspen Global Change Institute.
Senior Water and Climate Research Scientist at Colorado Water Institute, Colorado State University.
Director of Research at the Pacific Institute.