In May 2016, state regulators replaced state-mandated conservation targets with a supply-based approach that considers each agency’s specific circumstances and water supplies – an approach the Water Authority and others have sought for more than a year. The new regulation, in effect through January 2017, requires individual urban water agencies to self-certify their level of available water supplies based on three additional dry years and the level of conservation necessary to assure adequate supply assuming a third consecutive dry year.
The Water Authority will work with its member agencies to assess water supplies and demands per the state’s new formula. While it’s too early to predict the outcome, San Diego County will benefit from regional and local water supply investments such as water from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, independent conservation-and-transfer agreements for Colorado River water, and local water development projects such as water recycling facilities.
Even under the changed state regulation, it’s important for homes and businesses to use water wisely at all times and abide by state and local rules prohibiting water waste. The updated state regulation permanently prohibits practices that waste potable water such as:
- Hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes;
- Washing automobiles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle;
- Using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative water feature;
- Watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48 hours after measurable precipitation; and
- Irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.
In May 2015, the State Water Board adopted water-use reduction mandates to implement Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order for a 25 percent statewide reduction in urban water use. That regulation was updated in early 2016, and state regulators certified the supply of potable water from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant as drought-resilient, reducing the regional impacts of emergency water-use mandates.
Certification by the State Water Board lowered the regional aggregate water conservation goal from 20 percent to about 13 percent, though water-use targets continue to vary by local water agency.
Over 11 months of state-mandated water-use reductions, the San Diego region cut urban potable water use by 21 percent compared to the state’s baseline period in 2013. Regional water conservation is mainly being achieved by reducing discretionary irrigation as residents and business comply with state and local water-use rules. Conserved water in San Diego County has been stored locally for future use, a valuable asset should drought conditions continue.
San Diego County residents need to know and comply with state water-use restrictions. Click here to view drought information and actions from the State Water Resources Control Board.
It is also important to know what local restrictions are in place in your community. If you aren't sure which member agency to contact, click here to find your local agency, more conservation tips, and rebate information.