Improved 2003 water picture allows Metropolitan to decline final Sacramento Valley transfer option

With Southern California's imported water picture for 2003 secured, Metropolitan Water District said it will forgo the last in a series of one-year water transfer options from the Sacramento Valley.

LOS ANGELES, May 2, 2003 -- With Southern California's imported water picture for 2003 secured, Metropolitan Water District declared it will forgo the last in a series of one-year water transfer options from the Sacramento Valley.

Metropolitan informed Placer County Water Agency that the district will not exercise its option this year to purchase 20,000 acre-feet of water from the Sacramento Valley agency after the state increased MWD's supply allocation from Northern California following a string of April storms.

"Urban Southern California will not need the water this year because of prudent resource management, which included planning for the risks of reduced state project allocations. We believe, however, that the options contract developed with Placer County provided the Southland with significant protection against potential supply shortfalls that appeared likely earlier this year," said Ronald R. Gastelum, Metropolitan president and chief executive officer.

"We hope to continue working with Placer County and other Sacramento Valley agencies to develop mutually advantageous transfer arrangements that would enhance the affordability and reliability of water supplies for both of our regions," Gastelum said.

David Breninger, Placer County Water Agency general manager, said, "We appreciate the partnership with Metropolitan, which demonstrated how to approach water transfer options that best meet the mutual interests of our respective customers.

"Northern California and Southern California must work together to address and solve water supply and water quality needs. Voluntary transfers are an integral component of that partnership," Breninger said.

Metropolitan earlier exercised two separate transfer options totaling 147,200 acre-feet from other Sacramento Valley agencies to help the district compensate for anticipated supply shortfalls from the State Water Project this year.

Following Metropolitan's call on those transfer options in February and March, the California Department of Water Resources last week increased the state project allocation from 45 to 70 percent of the project contractors' entitlements.

Under the current DWR allocation, Metropolitan will receive 1.4 million acre-feet in state project supplies, along with the earlier Sacramento Valley transfer water and another 135,000 acre-feet carried over in SWP reservoirs, in 2003. An acre-foot is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the amount of water used annually by two typical Southland families in and around their households.

"Despite California's loss of surplus Colorado River water this year, we will have more than enough water available to meet the needs of our 26 member public agencies and the 18 million Southern Californians they serve. Our portfolio of diverse resources includes the ability to increase storage for years when we may not be as fortunate with the weather," Gastelum said.

Although Metropolitan will not call on the option, the district paid Placer County $10 per acre-foot or $2 million to secure the option. If Metropolitan exercised the option, the district would have paid Placer County another $90 per acre-feet, plus an energy fee, for the transferred water.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 18 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage, and other water-management programs.

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