Water conservation starts with you

New clean water service fees enacted by the Del Mar City Council and approved by residents through a mail ballot, contain an interesting new charge. Besides a flat service charge, for the first time the city is adding a monthly charge based on volume of water usage. At their meeting last week, City Council members also began the process of updating city codes to allow for water rationing.

Welcome to the California drought.

Expect moves like Del Mar's to become increasingly more common with harsher restrictions to follow in many areas.

Cities have begun considering a drought conservation program that instills levels of severity in regard to water usage. Level One would simply encourage voluntary conservation, Level Two would require a reduction in consumption by as much as 20 percent and Level Three would put a moratorium on new development by not allowing new water meters. Level Four? Start collecting your buckets.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has already declared a water shortage emergency in the city and has threatened mandatory conservation this winter if conditions worsen. In Northern California, the source of the majority of our water, things are getting increasingly more difficult with limits on water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the creation of the state's first water bank in 16 years. The bank would allow for more water to be piped to Southern California areas experiencing extreme water shortages - but at a price besides funds. Buyers would be required to drastically cut normal usage by their residents and businesses.

All this sobering news should not be lost on San Diego County, but so far it has been. The so-called "20-Gallon Challenge," which asked residents to reduce their water consumption to 20 gallons a day has been a miserable failure. So far usage has been cut a measly 6 percent.

It is obvious water conservation has to start with all of us and that means businesses as well. We aren't listening and threats will soon become realities. There are so many simple steps to take - just running your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full could save you 1,000 gallons a month. The Web site

www.wateruseitwisely.com

includes a link for 100 ways to conserve water: a great resource for the conservation-challenged. Actually the list for our Southwest region contains 111 ways to conserve - see how bad it's gotten already?

   
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