From the Executive Director’s Desk: What’s Coastkeeper doing on water conservation?

dry coloradoWe’re in the worst drought in California’s recorded history–and the City of San Diego has not yet elevated its water use restrictions to Level 2. This is unacceptable.

Governor Brown already requested everyone in the state reach 20 percent conservation, and the San Diego County Water Authority recently approved moving voluntary water use restrictions to mandatory. This vote allowed numerous cities in the region to implement their mandatory water use restrictions and come into compliance with emergency water conservation mandates approved July 15 by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Unfortunately, during an update about its ongoing water conservation program on July 23, City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department Director Halla Razak and a representative from the city attorney’s office reiterated the stance that the City is already in compliance with state regulations. They said that the permanent mandatory restrictions currently in place in the City of San Diego “mirror” the Level 2 drought restrictions that the County Water Authority approved. Sadly, Ms. Razak stated that we should “pray for rain” and plan for allocations.

We know this isn’t right. And we are committed to working with folks at the City, the State Water Board and the County Water Authority to ensure all water suppliers in our region obey the law and do their part to conserve.

Last week, our staff gave public comment during the City of San Diego environment committee meeting to update council members on state regulations that require implementation of mandatory restrictions and information about how the City hasn’t taken necessary steps to address outdoor irrigation scheduling and other key elements of those restrictions.

san diego drinking waterIn addition to comment letters and public testimony, we also partnered on a strongly-worded joint press release with Save the Colorado, highlighting the broader impacts of this decision for the regions from which we draw our water. We identified the current City of San Diego stance as in violation of existing regulations–and in poor taste, considering the broader implications of the drought for the entire Western U.S.

It is our goal to have the City of San Diego understand the requirements and come into compliance with State Board regulations. The deadline just passed, and the need to act is urgent. We have been working one-on-one with decision makers, in public hearings and in the media to achieve this goal.

I invite you to email me or call me (619.758.7743) if you have questions regarding our water supply work or if you’d like to financially support our work or volunteer to support our efforts.

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