Storm to drop enough rain to water lawns for 2 weeks

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SAN DIEGO -- This week's storm should allow residents to shut off their irrigation systems for as long as two weeks, aiding in water conservation efforts, the San Diego County Water Authority announced Tuesday.

“This week's rain won't end the drought, but it allows us to immediately reduce our water use by turning off sprinkler systems,'' said Mark Weston, chairman of the Water Authority's Board of Directors. “It's important that we take advantage of every opportunity to decrease outdoor water consumption and prepare for the likelihood of reduced water supplies next year.''

Area water officials have been urging San Diegans to cut back on consumption to make sure enough supply is available next summer to meet demand.

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The County Water Authority is asking that sprinklers not be turned on again until the top one to two inches of soil are dry. Lawns that lose their green luster will rejuvenate with the next rain, according to the agency.

While forecasts for Southern California predict above-average precipitation this winter, projections for the northern part of the state and the critical Sierra snowpack aren't as optimistic.

On Monday, the initial 2015 allocation from the State Water Project -- an important water source for the San Diego region -- was set at 10 percent of requested supplies, according to the CWA. The figure may fluctuate up or down depending on precipitation over the next few months.

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“Ten percent is a very low initial allocation, and it's almost certain that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California -- our region's largest water supplier -- will impose (lower) allocations in 2015 if conditions don't improve quickly,'' said Ken Weinberg, water resources director for the Water Authority.

“We each need to take additional steps to conserve during the fall and winter months when landscapes don't need as much water,'' he said.

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According to the CWA, outdoor watering accounts for more than half of household consumption. A two-week hiatus from watering could save enough water to supply 11,000 families for a year, according to the agency.