The San Diego County Water Authority is urging residents and businesses to help the region conserve water by turning off their outdoor watering systems today and leaving them off for at least the next week as a storm system moves into the region starting tonight.
“San Diego County and the entire state of California need this rain, but rain alone will not solve the water supply challenges we face next year,” said Ken Weinberg, director of Water Resources for the Water Authority. “We still have an urgent need to conserve water, and we have a great and easy opportunity to save a significant amount over the next week by giving the lawn sprinklers a break and letting Mother Nature do the watering.”
National Weather Service forecasters predict brief showers could begin tonight, and a cold front will bring moderate to heavy rain Friday morning. Heavy showers could linger periodically until Sunday. Mountain areas above 4,000 feet could also receive snow during the weekend.
Weinberg estimated a voluntary one-week hiatus from using landscape watering systems across the region could save 2,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, enough to supply two families of four for a year.
Residents and businesses may be able to leave their watering systems off for an even longer period depending on the amount of rainfall received and if cooler temperatures continue. To determine when it is necessary to turn water systems on, the Water Authority recommends monitoring soil moisture and plant stress. Check the top inch of soil, if it still is moist it contains enough water to supply the plants. Signs of stress include wilting and/or a lack of luster in leaves or blades of grass.
The region’s water supplies have been impacted by extremely dry conditions around California over the last year, as well as by an eight-year drought in the Colorado River basin. In addition, court-ordered pumping restrictions on the State Water Project are set to begin late this month. Water officials expect these restrictions to reduce water deliveries from Northern California through 2008 and potentially beyond. Approximately 40 percent of all water used in the San Diego region comes from the State Water Project.
For added convenience and potential water savings, Weinberg said residents should consider switching to a “smart” irrigation controller that automatically adjusts outdoor watering schedules for weather conditions. The Water Authority offers a pilot rebate program with up to $350 in savings toward purchase and professional installation of these controllers.
Information about the rebate program is available at www.sdcwa.org/manage/conservation-smartcontrollers_single.phtml or in the “Programs and Incentives” section on www.20gallonchallenge.com.
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