San Diego water conservation plan still in works, rep tells Carmel Valley planning board

While Gov. Jerry Brown declared mandatory drought restrictions for the state on April 1, the city of San Diego has yet to put a conservation plan in place. But one is expected soon, according to David Akins, the city’s Public Utilities Department customer advocate.

Akins visited the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board on April 23 to discuss water conservation.

“The city hasn’t asked anyone to do anything different, which to me is kind of ridiculous,” said board member Ken Farinsky. “Someone needs to get moving.”

Akins assured the board that Mayor Kevin Faulconer is taking the issue very seriously and that the plan will be coming soon, representing a 15 percent to 25 percent reduction.

“We will be asking everybody to pull together,” Akins said. “Once those decisions come down, there will be a massive effort to get the word out.”

Mandatory measures have been in effect in San Diego since November 2014, including watering only three assigned days a week, no irrigation during rain, using recycled water for construction purposes when available, shutting off all decorative fountains, and serving water at restaurants only when requested.

Residents are also encouraged to take steps such as taking three-minute showers, checking for leaks, doing only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines, and collecting and re-using warm-up water.

As part of their conservation plan, Akins said the city is reviewing outdoor irrigation at parks, restarting the turf replacement rebate program to encourage residents to replace lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping, and halting the use of potable water to irrigate turf-landscaped medians and city golf courses.

Akins said the Public Utilities Department also plans to be more aggressive about issuing formal warnings and fines for water waste violations.

“We need you to be our eyes and ears and let us know where these things are going on,” he said.

Akins said citizens can report water wasters by calling 619-533-5271 or by e-mailing waterwaste@sandiego.gov.

A new smart phone app, Waste No Water, also allows people to take a photo of water waste and send it in. The city’s GPS will identify the location.

Chair Frisco White said it was unfair in some respects that many San Diego residents have done their part voluntarily, and now with mandatory restrictions, they could be cutting back as much as 45 percent. As one resident noted, people can see that the city’s water use is “excessive,” and they’d like to see the city do its part as people continue taking three-minute showers.

Farinsky said Carmel Valley has already been making a positive effort to reduce water use. Through the Maintenance Assessment District, the community has cut back on watering common areas over the past five years. With the installation of more smart water controllers, they have saved an additional 25 percent. Also, reclaimed water is coming to Pacific Highlands Ranch in June.

For information on free water surveys for residents and other conservation efforts, visit sandiego.gov/water.


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