Council to consider water use restrictions


The City Council Tuesday will consider declaring a ‘Level 2’’ drought alert condition in San Diego and imposing mandatory outdoor water-use restrictions.

The restrictions, which include limiting when residents can water their lawns or wash cars, would go into effect June 1. Scofflaws could face a fine of $100 to $1,000.

Necessitating the mandatory restrictions is the recent decision by the San Diego County Water Authority to reduce water deliveries to its member agencies in the region by 8 percent.

“Thankfully, the cut won’t be nearly as deep as we’d anticipated,’’ Mayor Jerry Sanders said. “Nonetheless, the cut is enough to force the city into the next level of water conservation spelled out under the emergency water


Fearing that wholesalers would slash the amount of water San Diego gets by as much as 20 percent, Sanders has warned for more than a year that mandatory rationing was imminent.

The more modest reduction in water deliveries prompted the city to scale back an earlier plan that would have cut residential consumption based on individual use histories.

Under the guidelines before the City Council Tuesday, residents would only be allowed to water their lawns and landscaping between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., three days a week from June through October for no more than 10 minutesat a time, according to the mayor’s office.

Homes with odd-numbered addresses would be permitted to water on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Homes with even-numbered addresses could water on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. Apartments, condos and businesses could water only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Cars could only be washed at residences between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. using a bucket and a hose with a shut-off nozzle.

There will also be restrictions on ornamental fountains and construction site watering.

The city plans to hire seven code-compliance officers to help enforce the new water restrictions. Sanders said enforcement will largely be driven by citizen complaints.

“Those who continue to waste water and disregard our direction to stop will be subject to fines,” Sanders said.

Alex Ruiz, assistant director of the Water Department, said residents will get a warning first before being issued a fine. The warning would be in the form of a notice hung on doors, he said.

San Diego’s Water Department has budgeted $200,000 to $300,000 over the next few months to notify residents about the changes through billboards, print and broadcast advertisements, according to Ruiz.

Councilwoman Donna Frye said residents need to “fundamentally change” the way they use water or face more-stringent restrictions.

“I think if everybody just does a little, follows the rules, I think we can hopefully have to not use more severe restrictions. That’s my hope, but if we do, we will,’’ Frye said.

California’s water supplies are threatened by years of drought. That, combined with recent restrictions on the amount of water that can be pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to protect an endangered fish, means likely shortages.

According to Sanders, calls for voluntary water conservation measures over the past year have achieved only about 5 percent savings. The new mandatory restrictions will make up the difference.