California drought prompts new rules

SAN DIEGO — After weeks of warnings about the Severing California droughtSan Diego will adopt new statewide restrictions on water use for residents Friday.

California’s State Water Resources Control Board ordered the new rules late last month. The emergency water conservation regulation carries the following changes for residents in the city of San Diego:

  • Landscape watering is limited to no more than three days per week before 10 am or after 6 pm
    • This doesn’t apply to commercial growers or nurseries, nor golf course greens and trees.
  • Washing vehicles at home is prohibited. Washing is still allowed at commercial car washes.
  • Areas with no irrigation system must use a hand-held hose with a shutoff nozzle, hand-held container or a garden hose sprinkler system on a timer.
  • Watering is prohibited within 48 hours of a rain event.
  • Use of recycled or non-potable water, when available, is required for construction purposes.

Other parts of the state have already imposed stricter regulationsas the state has so far given regional authorities leeway to respond based on their local conditions.

San Diego residents will have to comply with the “Level 2 water restrictions” laid out above, even as the region’s own water supply remains uniquely secure. The San Diego County Water Authority credits a major effort by residents to conserve and by the county wholesaler to aggressively attain water.

After a period of severe drought in the 1990s exposed the county’s fragile reserves, the Water Authority took a range of steps including raising the height of the San Vicente Damopening a desalination plant in Carlsbadand joint programs that reward farming efficiency and capture excess water in the Imperial Valley.

Meanwhile, San Diegans have reduced their water use per person about 43% since 1990.

The Water Authority is a regional wholesaler, supplying 24 water districts and cities with some or all of their water. That includes the city of San Diego, which acknowledged the region’s above-average preparedness for drought while still urging locals to conserve.

“Most of the City’s water is purchased from the San Diego County Water Authority,” the city said in a statement about the coming restrictions. “Although CWA has determined that the region’s water supply is currently stable, the dire drought in Northern California and throughout the West requires all water customers to help reduce water use.”

Water districts and cities in other parts of the county are required to adopt similar rules, though the specifics may vary.

In announcing the move to Level 2 restrictionsstate water authorities said that about half of the state’s 436 water suppliers had not adopted higher use restrictions on their own, so the agency felt moved to spur action.

You can find more information about ways to save water and other local programs on the San Diego Public Utilities website. The city also has information on a variety of rebates for turf replacement, irrigation control systems, rain barrels and gutters, gray water systems and more.

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