Local water use drops for 2nd straight month

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Water Nozzle

SAN DIEGO — Water use in the San Diego region dropped 28 percent in January compared to the same period one year earlier, showing residents are getting the hang of water conservation, the San Diego County Water Authority reported Thursday.

Water use in the county has now dropped by nearly 30 percent for two months in a row when compared to the comparable period in 2014, according to the SDCWA. The drop was 29 percent in December.

Agency officials noted the decline came despite higher-than-normal temperatures and less rainfall than usual.

“Clearly, the region is embracing the challenge to conserve, and we appreciate all the efforts to cope with ongoing drought conditions,” said Mark Weston, chairman of the Water Authority’s board of directors.

“It’s critical that residents and businesses continue to limit their water use, particularly on landscapes, as the weather warms up,” Weston said. “The more we can cut back now, the better off we will be this summer and fall.”

The Water Authority numbers gave a very different spin on conservation efforts from a report released earlier this month by the Equinox Center. That report stated that county residents had increased water use every year since 2011 even as the regional drought got worse.

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January was the 15th consecutive month of above-average temperatures in San Diego, according to the SDCWA. The agency said last year was the hottest on record in San Diego County and California — dating back to 1895, and 2012-2014 was the driest three-year period on record for the state.

January’s decrease in potable water use is based on figures reported to the Water Authority by its 24 member agencies, which also provide water use data to the state Water Resources Control Board. Across San Diego County, water agencies have adopted mandatory water-use restrictions and they are preparing for the potential of reduced imported water supply allocations later this year.

San Diego’s largest supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, announced Feb. 9 that its board, when it meets in April, likely would consider cutting deliveries to MWD customers. Cutbacks, if adopted, would take effect July 1.

Water Authority officials said such cutbacks would be partially offset by transfers from the Colorado River and deliveries from the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which is under construction but could start delivering drinking water as soon as this fall.