Water conservation message getting through to San Diegans

San Diegans cut back on water use by 15.2 percent in March, compared to March of 2009, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced Wednesday.

And water use is down by 11 percent since the beginning of the current fiscal year last July 1, Sanders said, beating the city’s target of 8 percent.

“San Diegans have clearly developed smarter water-saving strategies,” Sanders said at a news conference.

City departments have reduced water use by 25 percent, he said.

California and the Colorado River basin have been in a years-long drought, which has forced reductions in deliveries of water from the Colorado and Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta to San Diego.

The mayor said recent rains fueled by El Nino aren’t enough to end the drought. Water deliveries will continue to drop because of pumping restrictions in the delta, he said.

“The bottom line is this — we have to continue to conserve water for the foreseeable future,” Sanders said.

To make sure local residents don’t backslide into old habits, the mayor taped two public service announcements with comedian Paul Rodriguez stressing the importance of continued conservation.

“I, myself, I’m showering with the neighbors,” Rodriguez says in one of the ads, which will run in English and Spanish on the city’s cable television channel and possibly commercial television.

Asked at the news conference if he’s doing the same, Sanders quipped, “No, my wife’s prohibited me.”

The conservation ads were taped in Balboa Park earlier this month.