October 20 – Coastkeeper Says Enforcement is Crucial Follow-Through to Tonight’s City Council Drought Alert Decision

Water supply watchdog supports mandatory restrictions, pledges to monitor City’s enforcement efforts

SAN DIEGO, October 20, 2014 – San Diego Coastkeeper, which protects drinkable waters in San Diego County, thanks San Diego City Council for moving to a Level 2 Drought Alert, enacting mandatory water restrictions in the city. With today’s vote, the City is authorized to implement and enforce new mandatory water use restrictions.

Coastkeeper Executive Director Megan Baehrens says this is a long-over-due step for the region and that she hopes this level of conservation becomes the new normal.

“The region’s water supply will trend as a topic of concern for years following today’s commendable move by the City of San Diego,” said Baehrens. “This is not a quick fix and this is not a temporary drought—the way we think about water and how we use it must evolve with climate and population realities.”

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.

Coastkeeper has long advocated that mandatory restrictions are necessary to change water use habits and says that the city has only begun to show water-use decreases despite a drought emergency declaration nearly a year ago. The watchdog organization adds that enforcement must accompany the new rules and this level of thoughtful water use should be the new normal for San Diego County.

Coastkeeper says it appreciated Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s media alert earlier in the month when he said the City of San Diego plans to enforce the new mandatory measures by utilizing existing resources at no additional cost to water ratepayers. He said he will task 10 staff members in the Public Utilities Department with enforcement, which largely calls for educating the public and working with residents and businesses to comply with the new rules.

“The City’s intentions sound encouraging, but it doesn’t have a solid record of enforcing water-use restrictions. Enforcement was minimal even in 2009 when it hired 10 enforcement agents responsible for water education and use,” said Baehrens. “We support education and enforcement, and we pledge to monitor the City’s efforts to ensure this time it puts action behind those words.”

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