Debating new ways for us to cut back on water - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Debating new ways for us to cut back on water

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - With rain from the latest storm beginning to fall on Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors approved a series of actions in response to a recent conservation order by state water officials and a planned cutback in deliveries by the Metropolitan Water District.

The board voted to restrict the irrigation of ornamental landscaping with potable water to no more than twice a week, spend $1 million to heighten the agencies outreach efforts and conservation programs, establish supply allocations to local agencies based on the MWD reductions, and set penalties for local agencies that exceed their supply allocations.

The SDCWA receives water from the MWD and Colorado River, and also stores water in local reservoirs. The water is then passed down to cities and water districts for distribution to homes and businesses.

"To meet the state-mandated water-use targets and protect the region's economy, we will all have to step up our water-saving efforts," said Mark Weston, chairman of the water authority Board of Directors.

"That may mean sacrifice by letting our lawns go brown," Weston said. "It also means reducing shower times and fixing leaks immediately. These are the right things to do in light of the potential for the drought to continue into 2016 and beyond, and they will help local water agencies avoid fines from state regulators."

SDCWA General Manager Maureen Stapleton said the region faces "unprecedented drought conditions" that are coupled with state mandates to reduce water use.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that San Diegans have and will continue to lead by example by conserving water.

"Reducing outdoor irrigation is the single most effective way to lower water usage and meet the state-mandated 16 percent reduction target for the city of San Diego," Faulconer said. "The city will take action to comply with the county water authority's order, and has begun drafting a change to the municipal code to enforce the water authority's twice-per-week watering restriction on San Diego water users."

With ironic timing, rain from the latest storm began falling in San Diego County today, with heavier precipitation forecast for early Friday morning. It could the the second significant rainfall in a week, following an otherwise dry and warm start to 2015.

The Water Authority said the storm will give people a chance to shut off their automated sprinklers and avoid irrigating their plants.

By state law, it's illegal to irrigate landscapes during measurable rainfall and for 48 hours afterward, but as a practical matter, sprinkler systems can be left off for much longer after a significant rain event, according to the SDCWA.

Outdoor watering accounts for more than half of a typical household's water use in the state.

State conservation mandates issued last week called for local agencies to reduce deliveries by 12 percent to 36 percent below their 2013 levels, beginning next month.

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