Where Does Our Southern California Water Come From?

Posted by David Umstot on

I had the opportunity to participate on a Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and San Diego County Water Authority community inspection trip of the Hoover Dam and Colorado River Aqueduct this past weekend.  We started with a tour of the Hoover Dam and its generating plant on the Arizona side and then drove south to a MWD-owned and operated facility at the Gene Pumping Plant near Parker, AZ.  It was interesting to learn that MWD had constructed Parker Dam in order to maintain a constant pumping elevation in Lake Havasu for the Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant, the origin of the Colorado Aqueduct.  There are a total of 5 pumping plants along the alignment of the Colorado Aqueduct pumping a total elevation head of 1617 feet over the alignment from Lake Havasu to greater LA area.  There were several presentations that shared how the Colorado River water is allocated and what is being done to use the existing water supply more efficiently.  Storage is a huge issue state-wide in meeting our growing population's demand for water.  Much of the pumping energy is provided by hydroelectric power generated at the Hoover and Parker dams reducing the carbon footprint of transporting this water to southern California.  We had a boat tour of the Copper Basin which is an artificially impounded reservoir that allows gravity flow of the Colorado River Aqueduct for a distance of 63 miles.  We concluded the tour at the San Vicente Dam here in San Diego to view the new dam raise as part of the emergency storage project. I was particularly impressed with the life cycle cost considerations that had been made in the 1930s to allow us to inherit infrastructure that is nearly 80 years old and going strong.  I have included images below courtesy of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. 


























Tags: mwd, colorado river aqueduct