District aims to reduce water use by 6 percent
The Santa Fe Irrigation District Board of Directors declared a Level 2 Drought Condition on May 21. Mandatory water conservation measures will be effective for homeowners on July 1.
The board set a target of 6 percent reduction in water use; the conservation is needed to minimize the effects of water supply shortages and to provide a reliable supply of water.
The decision comes on the heels of a recent consumer survey, which found that 70 percent of customers are concerned about the water supply and are ready and willing to do what they can to help.
Michael Bardin, irrigation district general manager, said many people want to conserve water but they just aren't sure how to go about it.
"The target has to be outside usage," Bardin said, adding that it is no longer acceptable to wash your car or hose off a sidewalk or driveway.
As far as outdoor usage goes, the Santa Fe Irrigation District has room for improvement, Bardin said.
In San Diego, the average use is about 200 gallons a day; in Chula Vista, it's about 160. In the Santa Fe Irrigation District, that number goes up to about 500 gallons a day.
Bardin said the district's numbers are skewed by the large lot sizes within the district. The minimum lot is about 3 acres.
"To someone that has a large estate lot, that's still important to them. You can't just say 'no outside watering,' " Bardin said. "The thing is to make sure you're as water efficient as possible."
The mandatory conservation will only allow watering three days a week during the summer and one day in winter. Sprinklers should only go on for 10-minute intervals.
The district's survey had about 3,000 respondents from the communities it serves, which include Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and the majority of Fairbanks Ranch.
The survey acted as the district's "marching orders," telling them what kind of community outreach needs to be done.
"We don't just want to tell people what they can't do," Bardin said.
The district will try to generate public forums, workshops, Web site updates and brochures and continue its Water Ambassadors Program, which is composed of volunteers who come on a monthly basis to learn about water issues and bring the information back to their neighbors and homeowners associations.
"We want to get people to understand that they have the power to reduce the rate of consumption and encourage them to influence their circle of friends," Bardin said. He also wanted to remind people that the return on an investment in water conservation could be seen in a monthly bill, too.
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