Water use down with drought warning


In the six weeks since the Santa Fe Irrigation District’s level 2 drought restrictions went into effect, the district is reporting that their conservation efforts have been successful. Demand for water is down 22 percent and the district only used 62 percent of their imported water allocation from San Diego County Water Authority, according to Michael Bardin, general manager.

Bardin said that the reduction represents an “absolutely fantastic” response by the community is conserving water.

“The public got it,” Bardin said. “They got the message and have generally curtailed water usage. That is a success story.”

The district’s board of directors president Michael Hogan said due to the success so far, they might want to review their policies before November when the once-a-week watering takes effect.

“We may be able to be more flexible if we continue with this trend,” Hogan said.

The district’s mandatory restrictions went into effect on July 1. Due to the drought, water delivery from the district’s primary supplier, the water authority, are being reduced by 8 percent for fiscal year 2010. Because the irrigation district also draws water from Lake Hodges, they set a conservation goal of 6 percent.

In July, the district’s demand was down 22 percent from the base year. The base year is what the district refers to as a “dry year,” or a year with the highest water demand.

As a result of the low demand in July, the district was able to take less imported water and use more of their local water. Bardin said it’s good to come right out the gates with a little “breathing room” on their water authority deliveries.

The summer water restrictions limited customers to landscape watering to three days a week. Five customers in the district applied for variances, three of which were approved, Bardin said.

One variance was allowed for a home that burned down during the Witch Creek Fire. The homeowners are trying to rehabilitate their landscape planting and asked for a temporary, three-month variance.

Another variance was given to a horse training facility, as they need to keep their arena soil wet for the animals as part of their business permit.

Variances that weren’t approved included homeowners who wished to change their watering schedule to match their gardener’s visits, Bardin said.

The third variance was given to the district’s largest customer, the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. The club uses weather-based irrigation controllers and the three-day schedule would make the system less efficient, Bardin said.

The club is in the midst of a $750,000 retrofit of their sprinkler system that could result in a 10 percent reduction in water use.

“They are a very efficient water user even though they are our largest user,” Bardin said.