Regional water agency declares Level 1 Drought Watch, seeks voluntary conservation
Thursday, Feb. 13—San Diego County Water Authority directors voted unanimously today to call for stepped-up conservation measures in the face of California’s drought.
The board, at a special meeting, declared a Level 1 Drought Watch and activated the agency’s Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan to preserve water reserves in case dry conditions continue into next year .
The agency will inform its 24 member agencies of voluntary guidelines such as washing paved surfaces only when necessary for health and safety, eliminating inefficient landscape irrigation such as runoff and overspray, irrigating only before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., and serving and refilling water at restaurants only on request.
In coming weeks, member agencies will consider what specific actions are necessary for their communities. Ramona Municipal Water District is among the member agencies.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency across the state recently, but San Diego-area officials say there will be enough water this year, thanks to greater storage capacity and increased diversification of sources. But if weather conditions remain dry, 2015 could be a different story, they said.
“The extraordinarily dry conditions and water supply challenges facing our state mean it’s time for each of us to go above and beyond our normal water- saving measures,” said Thomas Wornham, chairman of the water authority board. “For some people, that will mean simply adjusting their irrigation system to eliminate runoff and overspray. For others, it could mean investing in a water-smart landscape makeover or buying a highly efficient clothes washer. If everyone answers the call, we can stretch our region’s supplies and do our part to help the rest of the state.”
The water authority is collaborating with its 24 member agencies to increase regional awareness of the need for additional water conservation. It plans to fund outreach efforts using part of a $1 million state Drought Response and Outreach Program grant.
According to the San Diego agency, per capita potable water use in the region has decreased about 27 percent since 2007, and residents and water districts are on pace to meet their state-mandated water-efficiency targets for 2020. Total regional consumption of potable water in fiscal year 2013 was 24 percent lower than in fiscal year 2007.
The county imports 85 percent of its water supply.
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