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Drought Watch
Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive


The Del Mar City Council has declared a “Drought Response Stage 2 – Drought Alert.” (more serious than Stage 1 – Drought Watch but not yet as dire as Stage 3 – Drought Critical). The San Diego County Water Authority signaled local water agencies to enact mandatory water use restrictions to help curb demand, specifically that water usage should be reduced up to 20% from the ordinary demand requirement.

Such a declaration includes provisions for the implementation of drought rate fees. However, as the Water Authority is not anticipating reductions to its imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks to its member agencies, staff does not recommend implementation of the drought rate provisions detailed in Chapter 21.70 of the Municipal Code at this time. If supply conditions do not improve in the next year, mandatory cutbacks to SDCWA member agencies could be instituted as they were in 2009 and implementation of drought rates could be revisited.

Conservation measures detailed include:

• Limiting outdoor irrigation to between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. except for
drip or micro irrigation systems
• Controlling irrigation to avoid runoff to adjacent properties or public and
private roadways
• Using brooms to clean outdoor paved areas and not water washing except
to alleviate immediate safety or sanitation hazards
• Washing cars only using hand held hoses with positive shut off nozzles
• Restaurants only serving water upon request
• Repairing all water leaks promptly
• Only operating ornamental fountains that recirculate water

Background to the not-yet-critical (?) situation is provided by comments of County Supervisor Dave Roberts to the Urban Water Institute 21st Annual Water Conference on August 13.

About 20 years ago, California was locked in a multi-year drought that was a lot like this one. At the time, we relied on a single source -- the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California -- for 95 percent of our supply. In 1991, the drought forced Met to slash deliveries to its member agencies. San Diego faced a 50 percent curtailment. But we dodged that reduction thanks to late-season rains that we will always remember as the “March Miracle.”

However, the 31 percent reduction that had been in place for more than a year hurt our economy badly. That lesson drove us to diversify our supply portfolio and greatly increase our storage capacity.

Roberts praised County residents’ commitment to water conservation.
According to the Water Authority, our potable water consumption in 2014 remains 20 percent less than it was in 2007. In fact, our region’s total water use in 2013 was less than it was in 1991, despite a population increase of nearly 700,000 people and a 70 percent growth in our economy.

Still the current Drought Alert reminds us that we need to keep up and intensify our efforts to save water.



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