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Mayor Recommends Mandatory Water Conservation In San Diego

A house on Texas Street is reflected in a puddle of water from an irrigated f...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A house on Texas Street is reflected in a puddle of water from an irrigated front yard, July 9, 2014.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer is recommending San Diego move to a “drought alert” status on Nov. 1, if approved by the City Council.

Mandatory water restrictions could be coming to San Diego starting Nov. 1. Mayor Kevin Faulconer recommended Tuesday that the city move to drought alert status.

What Drought Alert Means

If approved by the full City Council and signed into law by the mayor, the mandatory restrictions would include measures like:

• watering lawns three days a week, and limited to seven minutes per station in November through May;

-residences with odd-numbered addresses would be allowed to water on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

-residences with even-numbered addresses would be allowed to water on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

-apartments, condominiums and businesses would be allowed to water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

• using hoses with shut-off nozzles or timed-sprinkler systems to provide water to landscaped areas;

• washing vehicles only before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. in November through May;

• watering potted plants, vegetable gardens and fruit trees before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.;

• not watering lawns or plants on rainy days; and

• ornamental fountains would need to be turned off except for repairs.

Drought alert is one level up from where the city has been since July 1, in which limited water use is recommended but not required. Now Faulconer said measures to reduce water use should be enforced.

"The good news is that many San Diegans are already doing this and won't have to change their habits," he said.

Councilmen David Alvarez, who chairs the committee, and Ed Harris called last week for making the now-voluntary restrictions mandatory. Their proposal is set to go before the City Council's Environment Committee on Wednesday.

If the mandatory restrictions are approved by the City Council, the mayor would reassign 10 city employees to enforce them. But he said city staff will mostly be educating residents, not fining them. If fines are given, Faulconer said they'd be about $100.

Faulconer noted that San Diego residents have responded to the voluntary measures by cutting back use by 5.7 percent in September and 4.4 percent in August. But he said the drought conditions and dangerously low state water reserves mean we still need to conserve more.

"The vast majority of San Diegans have conserved, and I want to thank them for their efforts, but unfortunately, these other circumstances require us to do even more," Faulconer said. "Looking ahead to 2015, if consistent rains do not materialize, things could go from bad to worse."

Halla Rezak, director of the city's Public Utilities Department, said the major water wholesaler in Southern California — the Metropolitan Water District — has only 49 percent of its usual capacity available.

The San Diego County Water Authority is at around 37 percent, while reservoirs serving the city of San Diego are at 44 percent of capacity, she said.

The State Water Resources Control Board reported Tuesday that water production went down 11.5 percent, or about 27 billion gallons, in August compared to August 2013.

Faulconer said he hopes the City Council enacts the mandatory restrictions by the end of this month.

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