SAN DIEGO - More water is headed down drains and into lawns in San Diego County. In a report obtained by 10News ahead of its release on Thursday, new numbers point to a jump in water usage after years of declines.
Outside the offices of Tilton Realty in San Marcos, the landscaping is lush and it is all a product of less water.
A few years ago, Dean Tilton called on a local water maintenance company, Blue Watchdog Conservation, to remotely monitor his water use and make adjustments for the weather. Tilton has cut down his usage by about 25 percent.
"I'm serious about this," he said. "You can save a lot of money."
Tilton is one of many who did their part, which led to steep declines in water usage when water restrictions went into effect several years ago.
With many of those restrictions now lifted, the water is once again flowing. According to the research group Equinox Center, water use per person increased from 130 to 133 gallons a day in 2012. Drier weather is one factor. Another reason could be that many people have some drought fatigue.
"Having forced to conserve, now they feel like they have a bit more flexibility," said Ann Tartre, the executive director of Equinox Center.
Among the biggest water users are Poway at 206 gallons per day, Del Mar at 232 gallons and Santa Fe – the water district that includes Rancho Santa Fe – at 467 gallons.
"Areas with larger yards tend to use more water," said Tartre.
In 2009, the state required urban water suppliers to reduce their water usage by 20 percent by the year 2020.
While the region appeared to be in good shape, most water districts are now regressing back toward that 20 percent mark. Oceanside is right at it.
Tartre says the solution is not out of reach.
"Our research showed this year we could be 20 to 30 percent more efficient with water in our home," she said.
That efficiency is available with existing technologies from water-efficient washers and toilets to shower heads.
If you'd like to see which areas use the most and least water in our region, visit EquinoxCenter.org. 10News is partnering with Equinox Center to look at quality of life issues ahead of the release of its dashboard report.