San Diego city officials may cut back on water restriction in spite of drought

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 18:26:44-04

San Diego officials are considering ratcheting back water use restrictions and are scheduled to present their plans Thursday to the City Council's Environment Committee.

If the change from a Level Two Drought Alert response to a Level One Drought Watch is approved, water conservation efforts would be voluntary, allowing residents to water their lawns more than two days a week. City officials will still encourage residents to water no more than three days a week, and continue other conservation efforts.

"This recommendation is possible because of the fantastic job San Diegans did in responding to the call for water conservation and because of investments in creating new water supplies," said Halla Razak, director of the Public Utilities Department. "While we are able to enact Level One it is important to remember that water conservation will always be a way of life in San Diego. We should all continue to do our part to save water."

Under a Drought Watch, residents will also be asked to voluntarily water trees and plants with a shut-off nozzle, pail or hose sprinkler system; and wash cars before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. with a shut-off nozzle.

The San Diego County Water Authority, which supplies water to the city of San Diego for distribution to customers, recently adopted a regional approach to certifying sufficiency and said enough supply is available locally to meet demand for the next three years, even if they're dry. If the certification is endorsed by state water officials, water agencies in the county won't face mandated conservation through January of next year, according to the Water Authority.

Since June of last year, city of San Diego customers have reduced water consumption by 18 percent.

While city restrictions will ease, certain state requirements will remain in effect. They include bans on:

-- hosing off driveways, sidewalks and similar hardscapes;

-- washing automobiles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle;

-- using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative water feature;

-- irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians; and

-- watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.