A record-breaking tropical rainstorm over the weekend has triggered state and local requirements to turn off irrigation systems. By state law, it’s illegal to irrigate landscapes during measurable rainfall and for 48 hours afterward. As a practical matter, irrigation systems can be left off for much longer after the significant rain that drenched San Diego County on Saturday and Sunday.
Widespread compliance with irrigation turn-off rules will give the region a big boost toward meeting state-mandated conservation targets of 12 to 36 percent for the Water Authority’s member agencies. In June, urban potable water use in San Diego County declined by approximately 26 percent compared to June 2013, according to preliminary numbers released by the San Diego County Water Authority. That followed a decrease of 30 percent in May compared to May 2013 – an accomplishment that was aided by unusually cool and wet weather that month.
“The region took advantage of the May rainstorms to really drive down water use, and this weekend’s downpour will help our region maintain its early success in meeting the state’s water-saving mandates if everyone takes full advantage it,” said Jason Foster, director of conservation and public outreach for the Water Authority. “We’ve still got some of the hottest and driest months of the year ahead, so we’ve got to continue to save in every possible way.”
With last weekend’s storm, rainfall at Lindbergh Field in San Diego is about average for the water year, which started Oct. 1. However, a couple of good storms has not ended California’s drought, which is in its fourth consecutive year.
Outdoor watering accounts for more than half of a typical household’s water use in California, and it has become a focal point for water conservation efforts as the drought extends into a fourth consecutive year. The regional drought response strategy centers on decreasing ornamental landscape irrigation first to minimize the economic disruption caused by cuts to water used by industrial, commercial and farming operations. Water conserved by residents and businesses will remain in storage in case dry conditions continue into 2016 and beyond.
For information about water-use rules by community, along with details about drought conditions and conservation-related resources, go to www.whenindrought.org.