January 17 – Coastkeeper Calls on County Water Authority to Enact Mandatory Water Conservation

Governor Brown expected to declare today statewide drought after local agency says San Diego County has plentiful water supplies
 SAN DIEGO, January 17, 2014 – On the heels of San Diego County Water Authority’s 2013 announcement that the region has plentiful water supplies, Governor Brown announced that he expects to declare today an official drought designation for California. In addition to 2013 being California’s driest year in 119 on record, the state’s snow pack is at an all-time low of 20 percent its average. Sacramento and other northern California cities have already imposed mandatory water restrictions to conserve shrinking supplies.
San Diego Coastkeeper, which protects fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters, calls on the Water Authority to be a responsible water agent for the county, the state and the Southwest region by requiring San Diegans to use water wisely.
“As water importers, we have a responsibility to conserve when our end-of-pipe habits have devastating effects rippling throughout the western United States,” said Waterkeeper Matt O’Malley about San Diego’s impacts on the Colorado River Basin and the Sacramento Bay Delta. “We import over 80 percent of our water from outside the region, which means the low snow pack and the drying Colorado River have major implications on our water supply.”
According to the Water Authority’s report, regional water use is down, while independent transfers from the Colorado River are growing and reservoir storage is up.
But, says O’Malley, this doesn’t tell a complete story because increasing water imports is unreliable, expensive and unfairly affecting other communities. He says that the region sucks almost half of what it uses from the Colorado River, named the Most Endangered River in America in 2013, and another 30 percent from the San Joaquin River Delta in Northern California. Additionally, water-related energy use consumes 19 percent of California’s electricity, exacerbating climate change concerns.
In San Diego, residents use about 140 gallons of water per day per person. That compares to less than 50 gallons of water per day per person in Australia, where they have similar weather patterns and living standards.
“We have to ask ourselves, if in San Diego County, 60 percent of water use goes to landscape irrigation and other outdoor activities, are we really doing what we can to conserve?” says O’Malley.
When the Water Authority enacted mandatory restriction in 2009, county residents responded by conserving around 20 percent. And in 2009-2011, the region reduced its water use by 14 percent.
“With all of the odds stacked against our water supply and residents’ responsiveness when asked to reduce use, we see mandatory water conservation as the new standard in water supply for San Diego,” O’Malley said, noting that this should extend beyond the implementation of water reuse and desalination currently planned in San Diego. “It’s the only way to ensure an affordable California way of life that we all love.”
For more information on San Diego Coastkeeper and water supply solutions, please visit localhost/sdcoastkeeper.
SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. Visit us online at https://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.