October 8 – Coastkeeper Thanks City Council Environment Committee for Supporting Level 2 Drought Alert

Water supply watchdog urges full city council to follow suit by supporting the mandatory water restrictions at its meeting later this month

SAN DIEGO, October 8, 2014 – The San Diego City Council Environment Committee voted unanimously today to send the decision for the City to move to Level 2 Drought Alert to the full city council for consideration later this month. If passed by the city council, staff will implement new mandatory water use guidelines and dedicate city staff to enforce them. According to San Diego Coastkeeper Waterkeeper Matt O’Malley, today’s vote is a strong step in the right direction to conserve water in the face of uncertain future water supply and will be most effective if the measures stay in place permanently.

In late September, the US Drought Monitor showed 95 percent of the state in severe to exceptional drought. Regionally, the Metropolitan Water District—from which San Diego buys 45 percent of its water— announced it has only one-third of its stored water remaining and that cutbacks or rationing could be made to certain areas of Southern California. Locally, San Diego County Water Authority moved to mandatory restrictions earlier this summer, noting the need to take measures now to avoid severe cutbacks should drought conditions persist.

“We’re thankful for the leadership of Councilmembers David Alvarez and Ed Harris to push this as a priority for the City of San Diego,” said O’Malley, noting that Mayor Faulconer followed their lead at a press conference yesterday. “Data show mandatory water restrictions are an effective measure to conserve water. Coupled with the City’s progress on wastewater recycling, our water supply future begins to look brighter.”

According to Coastkeeper, the restrictions included in the Level 2 Drought Alert can go a long way toward reducing water use in the City while preserving the California way of life. Such measures include lawn watering and irrigation limited to three days a week; timed sprinklers; use of positive shut-off nozzles on hand-held hoses; limited time frames to wash vehicles; and turning off ornamental fountains, among other instructions.

Echoing a past statement by Councilmember Marti Emerald, O’Malley says that these water use guidelines should be the new normal for San Diego, remaining in place long after the current dry weather passes. He says it’s imperative the City of San Diego dedicate staff to enforcement of these rules in order for them to work.

Since Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency on January 17, San Diego Coatkeeper has met with City officials to urge them to make this necessary move for the region. The organization says it will continue working with City staff to ensure the recommendations pass the full city council later this month and to support education and enforcement actions as they occur.