Gov. Brown Commends San Diego On Water Conservation
This is Maureen Cavanaugh . San Diego California officials, the Colorado spill will not get to us. And meanwhile San Diego has been congratulated by the governor for our success in water conservation. I have Jason Foster who is the director of public outreach and -- conservation. What was the purpose of Governor. Brown's visit to San Diego? He has been going around the state to meet with other water officials. And looking at the water conservation efforts and issues that need to be resolved. How is the county do we? As a region overall we are doing very well. This is the first month that we were tracking which was to, -- which was in June and we had up to 25%. July is looking very good and we are trying to finalize the numbers right now. But the blues that we got from those record breaking storms we got last month might be up to 30%. Each water agency has a different target when it comes to conservation, and why is that? The regulator will set different target, depending on how much they are using. Those that had higher proportion water use had higher rates. In you aggregate them all out as a reagent we basically have to lower our region by 20%. But each agency will have to hit it so target. But not all of our agencies are hitting the target? Some agencies are little short of hitting their target in two. -- June. They are still trying to get other means in place trying to meet their target. All of them have been very good in and -- educating their customers. The state is going to start finding those agencies. Do you think San Diego will be fine? None of our agencies are going to be fined. The state is looking at agency that have a persistent problem or not putting a good faith effort. All of our agencies have been very diligent, with restriction and education efforts and what other needs they have at their disposal, to get the water usage down. And you will see though conservation trends are going to continue and we will be in a good spot. At the beginning of the year San Diego was not doing too well when conservation, with conservation. There with the executive order back in April to get that water saving white -- state wide and we had been vamping of our education programs. We also have outdoor watering restrictions. And we see out in the region that a lot of people are following those restrictions and that is evident with the water used dropping. How do you know that people are actually following those restrictions? At the retail agencies that we identify the typical daily flows. They can see if there is a surge in the morning, and that is usually affiliated with irrigation and. And those patterns are changing. There is a lot of landscape that are turning tan or brown because of the stress that he and summer. -- by heat and summer. The state of California, requires each agency to report monthly. And those reports are put out every month. We do lack behind a couple of months so July will not be out for another couple of weeks. Moving on to water quality. There has been on a lot of national news about the water that turn orange in Colorado. And because of a toxic spill. And it was heading toward our water supply and is that a concern? Are initiatives to make sure that we have a saying water supply and we get percent of our water about Colorado River and we have been monitoring this bill very closely. We do not expect to have any adverse effects. We want to stay on top of it to make sure that the EPA in other agencies are dealing with an. And though -- the size of the water moving through the Colorado will take several years, to move down to the system and to get to West. -- to us. We have been working with everybody up the chain and everyone's expectation is that any contaminants from his pollution will basically be below detectable by the time it reaches our system. If you listen to the national reports there is a lot of commentators say, it is going to go into the Colorado River and it will needed to San Diego have been getting calls? About people being concerned? Yes. We do have people calling us and asking out loud how -- asking about how save our water is. We look at our water quality real time. We also do monthly testing in the reservoir is well. We look at how the river upstream is doing. If there is going to be an impact to the safety of our water we would be able to detect that and be aware of it before the water gets to our system. I want to bring in Gary Strong pool is on the water quality Board. Thank you for having me. That contaminate contain arsenic and iron. We have this problem in San Diego Bay we tell us a little bit about this? We have the same issues in a lot of these places not in the quantity that they are talking about. And it is very best in what -- and it is a great shame to see the beautiful River to turn yellow. Last year I cross paths with a ranger who said do not fish up here because they streams are all dead. I do not think this is a new problem. It just had that beautiful -- it just hit that beautiful River all-in-one. It is interesting to note that the upper San Diego watershed that we have old minds. Last month we were up there at [Indiscernible] interesting that water . There are small minds -- mines and they are dry and we do a biological assessment. We look at the box lending -- we look at the bugs living in the river. And we also did the same thing in the San Diego Bay. You can drench of mud at the bottom, and we can see how much lead and arsenic is in their -- there. But when we go out and sample the fish and the birds or the pelicans -- and we have been doing that for the last 20 years we have been monitoring the shipyard area. Which is south of [Indiscernible] bridge . They started to get to toxic levels. So we got a consortium, and the port authority and San Diego city. They have over the past two years have funded almost $80 million, to drench those heavy metal out of the bay. Now obviously Gary that the pollution that we are talking about in the bay, from shipbuilding and so forth and it is trying to be cleaned up. And obviously it is not going into our drinking water. But what effect does that have? One of the concerns is that people who catch the fish and eat the fish, may have level that might be harmful. We just monitored that -- we had an event said fishing for science. We had volunteers who captured targeted fish and we sent up to the state laboratory and at the testing. We had warning signs on most of our peers -- piers and we are giving people warnings. And we had to do that and we hope that it is getting better at it is a concern. And that they -- Is a Concern for People of the Bay? It Is My Belief That It Is No. No -- As Far As Recreation, No. And it can work up the food chain. We look at the pelicans and the sea lions. At some levels it could be harmful to their reproduction process and some other things but not to the point where it has been toxic to humans. And I think the good news that this is a good indication that things are getting better. Gary I want to thank you very much to tell us about our all problems with heavy Meadows here in San Diego. Thank you very much. I want to go back to Jason Foster. In spite of the conservation success that we have, one thing that drives people crazy is that water rates are going to go one. And we are using less water but we will have to pay for -- more. All water agencies have a fixed cost. We have to maintain and run a reliable water system. When we have a sudden drop of water sales because of an drought, but the agency still needs to pay for the system. So they can safely at Reliant -- and reliably deliver water. The drought is very real and we need to keep more water in storage. Even though El Niño will calm, -- come we still have to conserve. We have to build and maintain the infrastructure to subprime -- supply the region with water. We have to use water efficiently as possible in our region. Would raising the rates also contribute to conservation? Yes. A lot of agencies are exploring within their ability of the law to have tier rates two encourage you to be you -- to use water efficiently. We have been hearing about it being El Niño developing and it may bring a lot of storms this winter. What kind of effect will that have on the drought? It was illegally -- it would alleviate the stress. This rain will allow us to reveal -- refill the reservoir's. And this will relieve a little of the pressure that we are in right now. And we want to make sure that we have a supply of water for next year. We are also looking at the snowpack. If we have a warm winter we may not get a lot of snow in California. It might be helpful but that does not mean we should not save water and I want to say thank you to everyone who is out there saying water because we really do appreciate it. This was Jason Foster from San Diego water and conservation. Thank you.
Gov. Jerry Brown came to San Diego Tuesday to discuss drought efforts with local leaders.
Brown struck a positive tone, commending Mayor Kevin Faulconer, local elected officials, business leaders and water managers on hitting state-mandated water cuts in recent months.
"You're at the end of the pipe, as it were," Brown said. "You're in quasi-desert, semi-arid conditions here. And you are doing an excellent job. Conservation is meeting state targets. And you're doing a lot on your own, particularly in the field of recycling."
County Water Authority numbers show San Diegans cut water use by 26 percent in June compared to the same month in 2013.
Brown warned San Diego may soon need to use that conserved water to combat drought-fueled wild fires.
"In the next month or two you're going to see more fires," Brown said. "We have to stay vigilant and we have to be prepared to make the investments needed so that we have the water when we need it."