Easing Water Restrictions

By Gene Cubbison
|  Saturday, Apr 30, 2011  |  Updated 9:17 AM PDT
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Easing Water Restrictions

Tim Graham

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Those 'Level-2' drought restrictions that have been imposed countywide for nearly two years are finally on their way out.
 
An unusually heavy snow and rainfall season has brought California's water tables way up after three drought years.

  The agencies that provide our wholesale water supplies are lifting their limits on allocations to the region's cities and water districts.
 
And in the city of San Diego, customers have surpassed the conservation target of eight percent, reducing their use by an average of more than 14 percent.
 
"We're proud of what we've accomplished and glad it is no longer necessary to continue the Level 2 Drought Declaration," City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner told reporters at a downtown news conference Friday. "However, this is not the time to go water-wild."
 
So the announcement that emergency rationing is ending was followed by reminders:
 
No drowning your lawns.
 
No half-hour showers, or hosing down driveways and sidewalks.
 
Gone is the 3-days-a-week, odd-even address, outdoor watering schedule with a maximum 10-minute time limit.
 
But irrigation and car washing is still prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., June through October; 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., November through May.
 
A recent survey of County Water Authority customers showed that 83 percent plan to keep conserving as they have been since Level 2 was declared in June, 2009.
 
In San Diego, which has 275,000 customer accounts, roving water inspectors wound up writing only one ticket for repeated non-compliance.
 
"We get a lot of complaints from a lot of people about neighbors and everything," said Mayor Jerry Sanders. "Every time we went out -- except for that one time -- we were able to convince people if they would voluntarily comply, we didn't need to write a ticket…"That's exactly what we wanted to see.  And I think that's how we achieved the great results."
 
As part of lifting the restrictions, the city will be eliminating 10 temporary water inspector positions, for annual budget savings of nearly $800,000
 
The hope is, the conservation ethic San Diegans have adopted the past two years won't evaporate -- especially if another drought is right around the corner.

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