Water Authority declares
Level 2 ‘Drought Alert’

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors agreed Thursday to cut water deliveries to its 24 member agencies by 8 percent and also immediately declared a Level 2 “Drought Alert.”


The move comes in response to reduced water supplies caused by regulatory restrictions on water deliveries from Northern California, lingering drought, and cutbacks from the San Diego region’s main water supplier.

The delivery cutback will take effect July 1, and the drought declaration enables the retail agencies like the cities of San Diego and Del Mar and the Santa Fe Irrigation Districct to adopt mandatory conservation measures for residents and businesses, such as use restrictions or tiered water rates that charge more for excessive water use.

“We have reached the point where mandatory conservation by residents, businesses and government agencies is now necessary to help us cope with our water shortage,” said Claude A. “Bud” Lewis, chair of the Water Authority’s board of directors.

Thousands of agricultural water customers in San Diego County, who first faced mandatory water cutbacks in January 2008, also will continue to face reduced water deliveries. Growers and farmers will have agricultural water supplies cut between an estimated 13 percent and 30 percent, depending on the agricultural water program in which they are enrolled.

Specific supply reductions to local agencies may vary depending on how much of its total water supply each agency receives from the Water Authority and urban water use restrictions may vary among local retail agencies. Most local ordinances generally reflect the Water Authority’s model drought response ordinance, which has the following mandatory restrictions during a Drought Alert condition:

-- Residential and commercial landscape irrigation is limited to no more than three assigned days per week from June through October, and no more than once a week from November through May.

-- Residential and commercial lawns and landscapes irrigated by sprinklers are limited to no more than 10 minutes of watering per irrigation station per day.

-- Residential and commercial landscape watering is restricted to morning and late evenings.

-- Washing down paved surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, tennis courts, patios and parking lots is prohibited.

-- Water waste resulting from inefficient landscape irrigation, such as runoff, low head drainage, or overspray is prohibited.

-- Vehicles must be washed using a bucket and a hand-held hose with a positive shut-off nozzle, mobile high pressure/low volume wash system, or at a commercial site that re-circulates (reuses) water onsite.

-- Water leaks must be repaired within 72 hours of notification by the local water agency.

-- Restaurants and other food service establishments must serve and refill water for customers only upon request.

-- Hotels, motels, and other commercial lodging establishments must offer guests the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.

-- Recycled or non-potable water must be used for construction purposes when available.

-- Operating ornamental fountains or similar decorative water features is prohibited unless they use recycled water.

In addition, nine local retail agencies have provisions at this level that restrict or potentially restrict new water service unless the increased demand is offset. Some retail agencies also plan to use tiered rates or water allocations based on meter size or individual property characteristics (such as lot size, landscaping, number of residents) to help reduce demand.

The Water Authority urges residents and businesses to contact their local water agency to learn about any restrictions and water rates that apply in their community.