Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach show increased water use in April compared with 2013 despite drought, says board


Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach residents, criticized in the past for using large amounts of water despite the ongoing drought, increased usage by 9 percent in April, compared with the same month in 2013, according to figures released June 2 by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Customers supplied by the Santa Fe Irrigation District used 426.6 gallons of water per capita, per day, according to the data. Only one other district in the state came close to such high usage, the state figures showed.

By comparison, customers of urban and suburban cities and water districts used between 100 and 150 gallons per capita, per day.

Last month, the state ordered SFID customers to cut their use 36 percent from 2013 totals, and the front page of the agency’s website includes calls for conservation.

“Though many of our customers have cut water use, overall, our water use in our community rose in April rather than fell,” said the district’s Jessica Parks. “The Santa Fe Irrigation District Board of Directors recognizes that we need an aggressive program to drive water usage down.”

She said they are “actively reaching out” to the community to get people to reduce their water consumption.

The only other water use increase recorded in April in the region was the city of Escondido, which climbed 20 percent.

Conservation efforts in San Diego County were led by the San Dieguito Water District — in Encinitas — which reduced deliveries by 24 percent. Other declines in April, according to the state data, included:

• Carlsbad Municipal Water District, 10 percent;

• city of San Diego and Vista Irrigation District, 4 percent; and

• Olivenhain Municipal Water District, 2 percent.

Overall, water use in California was down 13.5 percent in April, an improvement but well short of Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 25 percent decrease, according to the water resources agency.

“We hope the improved conservation rate for April shows that residents and businesses stepped up to begin to meet the call for greater conservation in the face of this historic and ongoing drought,” said State Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus.

“While these results are a step in the right direction, there are still too many lush landscapes where irrigation must be reduced to meet the 25 percent statewide reduction mandate,” Marcus said. “We see conservation gains in all regions of the state, but we don’t know whether it was because of cooler weather or concerted action.”

She said “the real test” will be whether residents can keep their sprinklers off in the upcoming hot and dry summer months.

In Rancho Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Irrigation District approved a series of conservation steps at a meeting last month, including imposing mandatory water allocations with cost penalties for excessive use that could result in quadrupling of water charges for those that don’t comply, Parks said.

She said flagrant violators could face having flow-restrictors installed or having their water service shut off.