Water Use Efficiency

Left Column: 

Water Use Efficiency

Regional conservation ethic grows with new programs

Nearly all San Diego County residents believe it’s their civic duty to use water efficiently, and the Water Authority made major advances in providing information and inspiration to help people do just that.

The centerpiece of the effort in 2013 was the groundbreaking website WaterSmartSD.org, a comprehensive online tool that is continually updated to offer the latest news and resources about wise use of water. WaterSmartSD.org is filled with information about conservation incentives, tools and programs designed to make the most of the region’s limited water supplies regardless of how much rain or snow Mother Nature provides.

One of the website’s many features is the online Water Calculator, which gives homeowners a breakdown of water use at their properties and suggests ways to improve efficiency. Customized for the San Diego region, the calculator walks users through a set of questions, estimates their annual water consumption, compares it to average and water-efficient homes nearby and offers tips for conservation. The Water Calculator is a collaborative project of The Field Museum in Chicago and the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to water-use sustainability.

Residents looking to trim their outdoor water got a big boost through two related programs. The WaterSmart Turf Replacement Program provides financial incentives for turning conventional lawns into water-efficient landscapes with financial support from state and federal grant money. It launched in December and helps residents and businesses make the transition to landscapes that can cut outdoor water consumption by 70 percent.

In addition, the Water Authority successfully concluded a pilot series of free Landscape Makeover Workshops to provide homeowners with the basic skills necessary to transform traditional turf yards into WaterSmart showcases. The program, with the help of grant funding, will expand in the next fiscal year.


Vista Detention Facility


Grant, partnership boost conservation efforts

As part of an agency-wide strategy to maximize sources of funding for water conservation, the Water Authority in June was awarded more than $1 million by the California Department of Water Resources to implement the Drought Response and Outreach Program. The money, from voter-approved Proposition 50 (2002), will partially offset operating funds for public outreach and conservation work in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

In February, the Board approved a new series of projects designed to save water and the related embedded energy in collaboration with San Diego Gas & Electric. The projects involved retrofitting the Vista Detention Facility – a county jail – with water-efficient devices, a regional irrigation audit program for large landscapes and a water-leak detection program for retail water agencies.