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Sustainability

The City of San Diego is committed to sustainability and the efficient use of resources, which are cornerstones of the City's Sustainable Community Program. The Public Utilities Department plays an important role in helping achieve the City's overarching goal of sustainability in two key areas: water and energy.

Reliable and Sustainable Water

The City of San Diego has been reliably delivering quality water to customers for more than 100 years and has developed one of the most complex and sophisticated water systems in the world. However, San Diego is not blessed with an abundant local water supply. With an average annual rainfall of merely 10 inches on the coast, San Diego invested in infrastructure to capture local rainfall and then to import the majority of its water, approximately 85-90 percent, primarily from the Colorado River and the State Water Project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Today, the demand for water has reached the limit of traditional water supply sources. The state of California is relying upon a water supply system that is becoming increasingly unreliable, costly and politically volatile. Drought and court-ordered pumping restrictions on the State Water Project have created periodic cycles of limited water supplies. The City and the region are working to eliminate water waste and reduce dependence on imported water by creating a diversified portfolio of water supplies that are reliable, locally controlled and sustainable.

Efforts include:

Renewable Energy & Conservation

Together with its private partners, the Department's facilities generate more renewable energy than any other San Diego Gas & Electric customer. This impressive standing contributes to the Department's environmental stewardship, provides some energy independence, helps reduce operating costs and ultimately helps keep rates lower for customers. In fact, some Public Utilities facilities produce enough energy to fully operate and still sell excess energy back to SDG&E to generate revenue. Additional excess energy production also helps supply energy needs for such important institutions as the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the University of California, San Diego.

Public Utilities Department facilities, with private partners, utilize a number of energy sources to generate energy, including digester gas, landfill gas, bio methane, hydroelectric, solar, fuel cells and wind to power its headquarters, treatment plants and pump stations throughout the region.

Energy conservation is another critical component of the Department's energy efficiency goals. Since 2000, the Department has maintained a California Energy Commission-trained Energy Audit Team. Nearly all of the Department's major facilities have energy audit reports. The Department has recently invested an average of $400,000 per year in energy conservation projects which have upgraded almost all of its emergency generators, department-owned administration buildings, as well as many of its largest pump stations and wastewater treatment plants. Projects have included lighting re-lamping and control, air conditioning system improvements and process improvements.

The Department's commitment to sustainability has not gone unnoticed. The California Center for Sustainable Energy awarded the Public Utilities Department their 2010 Energy All-Star Award for Outstanding Organization. In 2006, the City of San Diego was recognized by the U.S. EPA for utilizing more renewable energy than any other public agency in the United States. In 1998, the San Diego Taxpayers Association honored the Metro Biosolids Center's privatized landfill gas-fired cogeneration facility with its Golden Watchdog Award.