“Unprecedented”: San Diego to Adjust to Mandatory Water Reductions

The move follows the lowest snowpack ever recorded.

San Diegans may not immediately know the full impact of Wednesday's unprecedented, mandatory water reductions as local officials try to find ways to meet the restrictions.

For the first time in state history, cities and towns across California will have to cut their water use by 25 percent, a goal set by Gov. Jerry Brown during the drought's fourth consecutive year.

The San Diego County Water Authority said the agency is still looking through the specifics of the reductions, trying to figure out just what measures will need to be put in place in San Diego to meet the goal. 

"While we are still reviewing the details of this morning’s executive order, we support the governor’s leadership and will do everything possible to help our region comply with the mandates," said Water Authority spokesman Mike Lee. 

Because the measure is new, Lee was unsure how specifically it would change water usage for San Diegans. Lee did say, however, that they would likely have to add new restrictions onto existing protocols already in place.

“The takeaway is we all have to do more,” Lee said. “It's an extremely unprecedented situation. San Diegans have stepped up with water conservation in the past, and we need to take another step forward as a community to do our part as the state does its part."

Details on how the executive order will affect residents will come in the next two to three weeks, when the city and county will have specifics on future water restrictions. The Water Authority Board will meet in three weeks, when they will decide on exact measures.

The district has never had to cut water usage by 25 percent as a result of an executive order, they said, so they don’t know what other measures will be necessary beyond stricter enforcement at the moment.

Rancho Santa Fe has one of the highest daily residential water uses on average in the county. The Santa Fe Water District, which represents Rancho Santa Fe, said Wednesday the some of the coming change would likely be better enforcement of current restrictions.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday he would announce in the coming days additional steps the city would be taking. 

"While it’s likely that water allocations will be passed on to San Diego from our water suppliers in the near future, we cannot wait to cut our water usage," Faulconer said, adding that San Diegans would follow the city's mandatory drought alert regulations. 

Brown's announcement comes as the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a source of water for 25 million Californians, recorded its lowest-ever snowpack. 

The State Water Resources Control Board will implement the reductions, a move that will amount to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water saved over the next nine months, according to Brown's office. 

Brown's order will:

  • Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments
  • Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models
  • Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use
  • Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

You can find ways to conserve water by clicking here. 

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