Residents and businesses can show their commitment to water conservation during serious statewide drought conditions with new items offered for free by the San Diego County Water Authority. The items are designed to draw attention to drought conditions, recognize people who are doing their part, and help them share their water-saving efforts with neighbors, colleagues and friends.
New yard signs and magnetic car decals are emblazoned with the When in Drought logo and the phrase “I’m saving every day, every way.” Fridge magnets offer simple water-saving tips for indoors. The items are available at the Water Authority headquarters, 4677 Overland Avenue in Kearny Mesa, and at two upcoming San Diego County Garden Friendly Plant Fairs, which offer discounts on low-water-use plants at select locations of The Home Depot. The plant fair schedule and other water conservation resources are at WaterSmartSD.org.
In addition, people can pick up yard signs at Mission Hills Nursery, 1525 Fort Stockton Dr., San Diego, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 1. Magnetic car decals will be handed out at Body Beautiful Car Wash, 2045 Pacific Highway, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 24.
“San Diego County residents and businesses have made water conservation a way of life, and they’ve made especially big strides since 2007 by cutting per capita water use more than 20 percent,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “These eye-catching When in Drought items are one way we can say ‘thank you’ – and an easy way for residents to show their passion for saving water while encouraging friends and neighbors to rise to the challenge.”
Ron Stowers, chief financial officer at Body Beautiful, said his four locations in the county offer environmental advantages. “Through our innovative technology and water recycling program, we can save more than 50 gallons of water per vehicle compared to washing vehicles at home without a trigger nozzle – and we collect contaminants such as oil so they don’t run into our waterways,” he said. “We invite our customers to join the campaign to make the most of every drop we have.”
At Mission Hills Nursery, manager Tiger Palafox offers an array of WaterSmart plants. “Because more than half of the typical home’s water use is outdoors, it’s critical that we continue converting from lawns to low-water-use landscapes that can be very beautiful and much more appropriate for our region,” he said. “Thankfully, many of our customers are already on that path, and I’m sure they will use these yard signs to display their commitment.”
As the region’s wholesale water supplier, the Water Authority plays an important role in coordinating regional drought response actions. The current Drought Alert condition calls for local water agencies to implement water-use restrictions if they have not already done so. The When in Drought webpage, whenindrought.org, includes links to member agency websites with details about water-use restrictions in communities across the region, along with resources such as rebate offers to improve water conservation at home and at work. The webpage also includes a search tool that allows users to find which water agency serves their home or business by typing their address.
The Water Authority is not anticipating reductions to its imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks to its member agencies. However, allocations could happen in 2015 if conditions don’t improve this winter. Two decades of regional investments in water supply reliability such as independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project will help reduce the impacts of any reductions in imported water supplies.
As part of its coordinated drought outreach efforts, the Water Authority has teamed with the local chapters of the California Restaurant Association and the Food & Beverage Association to distribute tens of thousands of table-top tents that remind restaurant patrons about the need for water conservation. The Water Authority also has partnered with local universities to distribute thousands of When in Drought fridge magnets in dorm rooms, and it has joined with the San Diego County Apartment Association to develop doorhangers featuring indoor conservation tips.
Despite extremely hot temperatures for most of 2014, San Diego County residents are responding to the call to reduce water consumption. Regional water use in August 2014 was 6 percent lower than the same month the year before, and water use in September 2014 was down 4 percent from September 2013. Water use declined during both of these months even though both months were hotter than average and much hotter than they were in 2013.
“We are going the right direction,” said Weston. “But we need to increase the amount of water we are saving, and I’m confident that everyone can do more to conserve in case 2015 is a fourth consecutive dry year.”