U-T San Diego and Water Authority Launch Weekly WaterSmart Tips to Help Region Conserve

Short Title
U-T San Diego and Water Authority Launch WaterSmart Tips
Newspaper to share practical ways for San Diego County residents to trim water use during statewide drought

The San Diego County Water Authority and U-T San Diego are partnering to provide timely advice about water conservation every Saturday in the Home & Garden section of the newspaper. Starting on Feb. 22, the U-T will publish “Be WaterSmart” tips to help San Diego County residents stretch the region’s water supplies.

The short news items will feature a range of practical ideas, resources and tools to help cut water use at homes and businesses. The introductory installment of the series is at www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/feb/20/water-saving-ideas-watersmart/.

More information about water conservation is available at the Water Authority’s conservation website, WaterSmartSD.org. It includes a home water-use calculator, a 140-page digital flipbook “eGuide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle,” and access to rebate offers on a range of water-saving measures, from turf replacement to rain barrels to low-water-use devices and appliances.

“U-T San Diego is playing an important leadership role in raising community awareness about the need to save water by providing our region with practical information for WaterSmart living,” said Thomas V. Wornham, Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “San Diego County residents have come so far over the past 20 years to reduce our water use, but we all need to do more. That’s not only critical in light of the current statewide drought, but to maintain our economy and our way of life for future generations.”

The Water Authority’s Board of Directors on Feb. 13 formally activated the agency’s Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan to preserve stored water reserves in Southern California in case dry conditions continue into 2015.  Additional water savings can also provide relief for other areas of the state more significantly affected by the drought by reducing the San Diego region’s need for imported water.

The Board also unanimously approved notifying the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that the region is at Level 1 Drought Watch of the region’s Model Drought Response Ordinance, which requests increased voluntary conservation. The Drought Watch condition essentially calls for going above and beyond routine water-saving efforts by taking three key actions: Stopping inefficient irrigation, minimizing outdoor water waste and fixing leaks. The Water Authority’s member agencies will implement guidelines for their service areas.

The Water Authority is not anticipating cutbacks to its imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply reductions to its member agencies.

The region’s improved water supply reliability is the result of adequate reservoir storage in Southern California and two decades of investments by the San Diego region to diversify its water supply sources. These measures include securing water transfers that are part of the historic 2003 Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement. The Water Authority-Imperial Irrigation District water conservation and transfer agreement and related canal-lining projects will provide 180,000 acre-feet of highly reliable supplies to the San Diego region this year, more than double the amount they provided at the start of the last drought in 2007. (An acre-foot is about 325,900 gallons, enough to meet the needs of two average single-family households of four people for a year.)

In addition, the Water Authority has invested $2 billion over the past decade in new, large-scale water infrastructure projects that are contributing to a more reliable water supply. The Carlsbad Desalination Project, now under construction, is another important element of the Water Authority’s long-term strategy to improve the San Diego region’s water supply reliability. By early 2016, the project is expected to deliver up to 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof, highly reliable water each year, enough water for 112,000 households.

Conservation is another critical component of the region’s strategy to improve water supply reliability. More than 1.2 million water-saving toilets, showerheads and clothes washers have been installed in the region since 1990. Over just the past seven fiscal years, the San Diego region has cut its potable water consumption by 24 percent, or roughly 174,000 acre-feet per year – enough to serve about 350,000 households annually. Over that same period, per capita potable water use in the region is down about 27 percent.

For more information about the region’s Drought Watch condition, go to www.sdcwa.org/drought-response.