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Drought Prompts Call For Voluntary Water Restrictions In San Diego County

Aired 2/11/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Dana Friehauf, Acting Water Resources Manager, San Diego County Water Authority

Luis Generoso, Water Resources Manager, City of San Diego Public Utilities

Transcript

This week, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors will consider calling for stepped-up conservation measures in the face of California's drought.

At a special meeting on Thursday, the board will consider adopting voluntary guidelines such as washing paved surfaces only when necessary for health and safety; eliminating inefficient landscape irrigation, such as runoff and overspray; irrigating only before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.; and serving and refilling water at restaurants only on request.

The two dozen local agencies that are customers of the water authority would be notified of the action.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a drought emergency across the state, but San Diego-area officials say there will be enough water this year, thanks to greater storage capacity and increased diversification of sources. But if weather conditions remain dry, 2015 could be a different story, they said.

"This region has planned for dry periods and embraced water conservation as a way of life, but during these extraordinary times, each of us must take steps to use only the water that we need and conserve wherever we can," said Maureen Stapleton, general manager of the Water Authority.

According to the SDCWA, per capita potable water use in the San Diego area has decreased about 27 percent since 2007, and local cities and water districts are on pace to meet their state-mandated water efficiency targets for 2020. Total regional consumption of potable water in fiscal year 2013 was 24 percent lower than in fiscal year 2007.

San Diego imports 85 percent of its water supply.

Meanwhile, the City of San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria said he will resurrect the city's Water Consumption Report Card and provide regular updates on how San Diegans are doing in cutting back their usage.

He suggested residents check for leaks, consider replacing inefficient appliances and take part in the free water survey program, in which a city representative will go to a home and suggest ways of reducing consumption.

Drought Resources

Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan - San Diego County Water Authority

City Of San Diego Waste Water Restrictions - Public Utilities

Water Smart San Diego County

City of San Diego Water Conservation

Carlsbad Desalination Project

Homeowners should water their lawns only two or three times a week and be vigilant for broken sprinkler heads, the interim mayor said.

Water officials in San Diego have said that mandatory conservation measures, such as those implemented during the last drought in 2009, will not be necessary for now because the local water supply is stable.

Halla Razak, director of the city's Public Utilities Department, said the region has 2 1/2 times more water storage capacity than five years ago, and receives twice as much water from the Colorado River.

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