Mandated water cutbacks in Santa Fe District - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mandated water cutbacks in Santa Fe District

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - California's historic drought is not easing up, and new water restrictions go into effect in just days. Residents who do not comply could be hit with steep fines. 

Tuesday, Santa Fe Irrigation District customers expressed anger after they were asked to cut water use by 45 percent by July 1 or the state could find the district $10,000 per day. 

[Drought Alert: Latest information on California's Drought]

"I am really angry. Really angry because I don't think it needs to be this way," said Elly who lives in Rancho Santa Fe. Elly points out that she lives on two acres in Rancho Santa Fe compared to some of the larger lots in the community. 

Representatives with the Santa Fe Irrigation District, one of the state's biggest water users, said these cuts are necessary if the state is mandating the district cut use by 36 percent. District reps also said it could lose $3 million in revenue. 

"We are in trouble if we have to cut by what, 45 percent, how?" said Betty Byrd of Rancho Santa Fe. 

Residents know they are the biggest water users. Many have large yards and groves, but they said it's not fair they have to cut back nearly half their water use compared to water they have already cut.

"We are very serious about cutting back water, and this is the way we are showing it," said Jessica Parks, spokesperson for the Santa Fe Irrigation District.

In June, the Santa Fe Irrigation District moved to a level three drought, earning the name 'the largest water users in California.'

"I just planted new grass, and I had to brown it out," said Peter Schxiwmonski of Solana Beach. 

Starting July 1, customers will be allocated 11,000 gallons (15 100 Cubic Feet-HCF) of basic water needs, and will need to cut their water use, compared to the same billing period in 2013, by 45 percent, or pay a penalty for additional units of water used. The penalties start September 1, after the first billing period since the new measures which could add up to hundreds of dollars. 

Neighbors complained why smaller lots are being forced to restrict water usage the same amount as the larger lots. The district said each family is being asked to reduce water usage by 45 percent based on what their individual water usage was in 2013. 

"We are also offering for all customers take a free residential survey where a professional landscaper will come out to their property and help them to find areas to save water," said Parks.

The district already has crews in the field tracking water wasters who will face anywhere from $250 to $1,000 fines. "Some plants need to be watered two or three days a week, so why can't we use our allocation as long as we don't exceed it? Why do we still have the two days a week?" said Richard Keesee of Solana Beach. 

Customers said the state needs to come up with more water resources than the ones that are drying up.

Since June 1, the district has already handed out four violations for water wasters. Commercial and agriculture water users can file for an exemption. 

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