A storm expected to drop rain and snow across San Diego County today and tomorrow should make it easy to start 2015 by saving water – a great New Year’s resolution for everyone in the region to adopt after more than three years of drought. By turning off irrigation systems following significant rainfall, residents can conserve valuable water supplies and help the region withstand drought conditions.
The winter’s first manual snow survey results released today by state officials underscored the need for increased water conservation statewide. The measurement of 4 inches of snow water equivalent near Echo Summit in Northern California was only 33 percent of average for the date. Statewide, the snow water equivalent was only 50 percent of average for the date.The snowpack is critical because it supplies California with runoff during the summer when water use peaks.
“While storms have improved water supply conditions over the past month, they have not delivered nearly enough precipitation to make up for the lack of rain and snow over the past three years,” said Jason Foster, director of Public Outreach and Conservation for the San Diego County Water Authority. “We must continue seizing every opportunity to save water. San Diego County residents have done a great job conserving over the past several years, but the drought isn’t over and the job isn’t done.
“Resolve to cut water use wherever possible in 2015,” Foster said. “One easy way is to turn off irrigation systems when rainstorms are imminent and leave them off for a few weeks, or until the top one to two inches of soil are dry.”
State officials said it would take a series of storms delivering well-above-average amounts of rain and snow statewide over the next few months to pull California out of drought. The initial 2015 allocation from the State Water Project – an important water source for San Diego County – has been set at only 10 percent of requested supplies. The figure may fluctuate up or down depending on precipitation over the next few months.
Water agencies across San Diego County have adopted mandatory water-use restrictions and they are preparing for the potential of a fourth consecutive dry year. The region’s largest water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, may impose water supply allocations in 2015 if conditions don’t improve substantially this winter. Two decades of investments in water supply reliability for San Diego County – including independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project – will help reduce the impacts of any reductions in imported water supplies, but the need for conservation will continue.
As a wholesale water agency, the Water Authority coordinates drought response actions for San Diego County. The regional Model Drought Response Ordinance, adopted by the Water Authority’s Board in 2008, establishes four levels of drought response with progressive restrictions. The strategy was designed to foster regional consistency and to align demand with supply during water shortages while minimizing harm to the region’s economy.
The Water Authority’s Board has declared a Drought Alert condition calling for mandatory water conservation measures. Restrictions vary by member agency. For information about water-use rules by community, along with details about drought conditions and conservation-related resources, go to www.whenindrought.org.