Water restrictions remain voluntary in San Diego County

No 'water cops' in city of San Diego

SAN DIEGO - Water usage in San Diego County is up despite the extreme drought and voluntary water restrictions.

"I know it's really severe and going to get worse," said North County resident Trish Sanderson.

The Sandersons say they are doing their part to conserve, but not everybody does.

From January to May of 2013, more than 63 billion gallons of potable water were used in the county. During the same time frame for this year, the county used nearly 70 billion gallons.

"We don't believe that people are actually wasting more water," said Dana Friehauf, the acting water resources specialist with the San Diego County Water Authority.  "We think it's in response to the dry conditions and the need to try and keep their landscape alive."

The San Diego County Water Authority issued a Level 1 drought response earlier this year, encouraging water conservation such as watering your lawn only during morning or evening hours. Team 10 asked who enforces the rules.

"We have a very coordinated effort here in San Diego County… working with its member retail agencies," Friehauf said.

The water authority is not in charge of enforcement. In 2009 during a Level 2 Drought Alert, the city of San Diego had five "water cops" to enforce water restrictions.

When asked if there would be enforcement during this drought, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said "any decision on a mandatory will be in the months and months ahead."

Many local water districts have ways you can report water wasters online and by telephone.

Team 10 contacted the State Water Resources Control Board. A representative said draft emergency regulations would be released by the end of the day on Tuesday, but there was no information on what those regulations could be.

Click here to see a breakdown of potable water use from January to May by agency.

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