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Promoting Stewardship of Natural Resources and Native Species

San Diego County has a diverse environment that is home to large variety of plant and animal species. A key goal of the Water Authority’s environmental program is to ensure that existing and planned facilities are built and operated in a manner that minimizes negative effects on the environment and wildlife. The Water Authority supports cost-effective sustainability programs that promote thoughtful stewardship of the region’s natural resources.

The Water Authority’s environmental programs save ratepayers money, reduces impacts on the environment from critical operations, conserve energy and water, and help the Water Authority better anticipate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Priorities & Supporting Documents

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy — energy from natural resources such as sunlight, wind and water — is quickly becoming a critical component of California’s power supply. As a water supplier and a clean energy-conscious agency, the Water Authority has developed hydroelectric and solar energy projects – and it continues look for other cost-effective  opportunities to advance climate-friendly energy solutions.


Sustainability projects have been an important part of the Water Authority’s approach to business for years. Water-use efficiency not only lessens the Water Authority’s dependence on imported water, it also reduces energy costs and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting, treating and heating water.

The Water Authority is now partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to improve the forecasting of extreme weather events in ways that enhance water management strategies. The Water Authority is becoming a model for sustainability. The agency’s headquarters in San Diego features a water-wise landscape with rotating sprinkler heads and drip irrigation, low-flow toilets and aerators, energy-efficient lighting, and recycling bins in all common areas. The agency also aims to reduce its facility waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Habitat Conservation

Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP)

The plan, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife in December 2011, provides goals, guidelines, and specifications that comprise the Water Authority’s Conservation Strategy for biological resources within its San Diego County service area and a portion of southwestern Riverside County.

It focuses on addressing key covered species whose conservation and mitigation will also provide broad protection for many associated species. The plan includes mitigation ratios for all habitat impacts, narrow endemic species and vernal pool and wetland habitat policies, habitat restoration guidelines/procedures, relevant General Conditions and Standard Specifications for project development and construction as well as operations and maintenance, descriptions and explanations of our mitigation lands, preserve management land guidelines, and procedures for amending the plan and addressing changed circumstances affecting the covered species.

Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for the San Diego County Water Authority Subregional Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan

download this documentFinal EIR EIS Vol I download this documentFinal EIR EIS Vol II download this documentFinal EIR EIS Vol III download this documentNatural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan Annual Report – 2021 download this documentFinal NCCP/HCP download this documentNCCP/HCP Implementing Agreement

San Miguel Conservation Bank

The Water Authority is making available for purchase up to 240 acre-credits of high-quality coastal sage scrub habitat. These credits are part of the 1,852-acre San Miguel Conservation Bank, located in Chula Vista near Mother Miguel Mountain and San Miguel Mountain, which is within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The San Miguel Conservation Bank was established by an agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1997. The Water Authority assumed the conservation banking agreement in 2003. The Water Authority Board of Directors authorized the outside sale or exchange of up to 240 acre-credits within the bank in 2017.

The available credits are within an area deemed “Very High Quality Habitat” in the Subregional Multiple Species Conservation Plan, boasting a rich biodiversity that is known to support a number of listed and otherwise sensitive plant, avian, reptile, and mammal species. The on-site coastal sage scrub habitat supports a high density of coastal California gnatcatcher populations.

For more information on credit purchase or exchange opportunities with the Water Authority, contact Summer Adleberg at sadleberg@sdcwa.org.