Water Authority Activates Drought Response Plan

The agency is calling on San Diegans to implement voluntary water restrictions

Calls for water conservation grew stronger Thursday as the San Diego County Water Authority announced a Level 1 Drought Watch.

The agency’s board of directors activated its voluntary drought response plan to encourage residents, businesses and institutions to save as much water as possible.

Some recommendations include serving/refilling water at restaurants only upon request, washing sidewalks only when necessary for health reasons, irrigating just before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. and more. The suggestions can be found at WaterSmartSD.org.

The board said San Diego is in a much better situation than other parts of the state with enough water supplies for 2014, but they will be taking a significant amount of water out of the reservoirs.

The Water Authority board warned that no one knows what 2015 will hold, and water saving measures can give relief to other California cities suffering from drought.

To get word out about Level 1 voluntary restrictions, the Water Authority will work with its 24 member agencies on outreach efforts, funded by part of a $1 million state grant.

In light of the new announcement, member agencies will decide which actions to take for their individual communities.

Cutbacks to imported water supplies should not trigger mandatory conservation, the agency said, thanks in part to past conservation efforts by San Diegans. Per capita use in the region has decreased by 27 percent since 2007.

Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for California after snowpack levels only grew to 12 percent of average this season.

However, Southern California gets most of its imported water from the Colorado River Basin, which has a snowpack of 100 percent of average this year.

The Water Authority’s drought response plan was last activated in May 2007, and it wasn’t deactivated until April 2011.

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