Authored by Kirby Brady and Janice Brown, “Water Investments Fuel Our Growing Economy” was originally published on San Diego Business Journal.
While it may seem both obvious and subtle, San Diego County’s thriving $220 billion economy and quality of life is made possible by a safe and reliable water supply. Every day, water is delivered to 1.1 million households and 98,000 businesses throughout the region.
Water also drives the iconic industries that make San Diego County truly San Diego — craft brewing, tourism, manufacturing, life sciences and agriculture, among others.
But how is San Diego County fueled by water in a region that only receives 10 inches of rain each year?
It’s possible because of the significant regional water reliability and infrastructure investments made by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. Over the past two decades, the Water Authority has invested more than $2.4 billion into projects that drive our region’s economy and protect our access to clean water for generations to come. These direct investments have resulted in a total economic impact of $4.8 billion and support nearly 1,500 jobs annually.
These investments resulted in the construction of new water infrastructure projects, which ripple benefits throughout our economy. These include the Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad, the nation’s largest desalination plant, and the San Vicente Dam Raise, the tallest dam raise of its type in the world.
The benefits of these investments are underscored in San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.’s new study, “The Importance of Water Reliability to San Diego’s Economy,” which highlights striking positive economic impacts for our region.
Water supplies support $482 million in regional sales of goods and services every day. That’s the economic equivalent of nearly three Comic-Cons each day. Without access to a reliable water supply, local businesses would not be able to provide services or goods that help advance our regional economy.
Every $1 invested in water infrastructure results in a $1.80 increase in the region’s gross regional product. Investing in infrastructure is investing in the regional economy. That’s why some of our favorite products are able to call San Diego County home. This region is home to more than 130 brew houses and 3,150 manufacturing companies thanks to the safe and reliable water supply.
Water infrastructure investments impact local jobs. Capital improvement projects that result from investments support jobs in many industries including construction, architecture, and engineering — even restaurant and retail.
Growing the Innovation Economy
Water drives our renowned innovation economy. Groundbreaking discoveries are taking place right here in San Diego County, and we’re proud of the accomplishments San Diegans make every day. Aerospace, technology and life sciences are just some of the industries that depend on the infrastructure necessary to store, move, treat and deliver water. Not only are these industries changing the way the world works, but they produce products and support sales crucial to San Diego County’s economy.
Our region’s economic future depends on continued access to safe and reliable water. With more than 500,000 residents expected to move to the San Diego region by 2035, maintaining access to clean water is as important for the future as it is today. Though our region has limited water resources due to low rainfall, we can rest assured that the water infrastructure investments made by the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies will continue to support San Diego County’s thriving economy.
Read the full study here.
Janice Brown of the Brown Law Group is chair of San Diego Regional EDC. Kirby Brady is research director of San Diego Regional EDC.