Water board votes to make restrictions mandatory - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Water board votes to make restrictions mandatory

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Water use restrictions that had been voluntary in the San Diego region are now mandatory, following a vote Thursday by the County Water Authority Board of Directors.

The change was prompted by deepening drought conditions and new directives by the state government, according to the water authority.

The CWA says stronger conservation measures will help San Diego County keep as much water as possible in storage for next year and comply with emergency water conservation mandates approved last week by the state Water Resources Control Board.

The water authority does not expect cutbacks in imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks by member agencies. Reductions could happen next year if conditions don't improve, water officials said.

"Water supply challenges statewide are serious, and they have led water agencies to withdraw significant amounts of stored water to meet demand in recent months," said CWA board Chairman Thomas Wornham.

"We don't know how much rain and snow we will get this winter," Wornham said. "The only thing we can collectively control is how much water each of us uses. Every home, business and public agency should assess its water use and take additional steps to conserve to better prepare for a possible fourth consecutive dry year."

An El Nino climate pattern -- resulting from warming of surface water in the Pacific Ocean -- is weakening and might not bring much relief to parched California after all, according to recent predictions.

The requirements include:

-- watering only at certain days and times;

-- eliminating runoff from irrigation systems;

-- repairing leaks within 72 hours;

-- turning off water features unless they use recycled water;

-- using hoses with shut-off valves for washing cars, or patronizing commercial car washes that re-circulate water;

-- serving water to restaurant patrons only on request;

-- offering hotel guests the option of not laundering towels and linens daily; and

-- using recycled or non-potable water for construction when available.

Individual customers could see some variance in the new rules once they are adopted by the water authority's 24 member agencies.

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