Watering: How's Once a Week Sound?

San Diegans getting used to the recently imposed water restrictions may have to get by with watering just one day a week later in the year.

Luis Generoso, the water resources manager for the city, discussed that aspect of the city's municipal code on Friday morning after a news conference hosted by Mayor Jerry Sanders. To highlight the topic, Sanders & Co. held the event at a cactus garden in Balboa Park across the street from the Natural History Museum.

"November, traditionally, the days are shorter, the days are cooler, and as we enter into fall and winter, what happens is the three-days-a-week watering schedule will turn down to one day a week," Generoso said. "That is based on a model ordinance that the San Diego County Water Authority recommended to all the member agencies."

Hardship variances can be requested, however, if the reduction would cause, say, a fire risk. The city may rewrite the municipal code by Nov. 1, giving that provision more flexibility. The city does not yet have a schedule created for once-a-week watering.

"When we go back to [the city Natural Resources and Culture Council Committee,] we will be making some recommendations on what potential changes we might want to see in the municipal code, and this might be one of them; something we probably want to consider," Generoso said.

Sanders said most residents had begun changing their watering habits, but many had not. The city is trying to work with residents, and then, if they don't abide by the new regulations, officials will take a series of steps, up to and including fines, to obtain compliance. For now, though, it's all about education, however, and most complaints have been addressed by sending out letters and posting "door-hangers" to alert property owners. No fines have yet been issued, Sanders said.

Officials said they have been getting a lot more calls about wasted water since the program was implemented.

"On average, prior to water conservation taking effect, per month, we received about 80 requests for investigation," Generoso said, adding that they have gotten about 300 between June 1 and June 12.

Most of the calls that have come in are about poorly targeted irrigation -- water running down sidewalks, etc. -- but the city has also received calls about people watering on the wrong days or times, Generoso said.

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