City tightens water-use rules


Grass sprinkler

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SAN DIEGO — San Diegans might see less green around city parks and other facilities in the coming months, in light of new water-use policies passed unanimously Monday by the City Council.

The council action includes tighter restrictions on water use by the public, and adoption of a new program to reduce the amount of water being used by the Parks and Recreation Department — which accounts for 60 percent of city water consumption.

While actively used sections of city parks will still be watered three times a week, lesser-used parts will be cut back to twice a week. Areas where the landscaping is merely ornamental won’t be watered anymore, which will lead to areas turning brown or yellow, Parks and Recreation Director Herman Parker said.

“They’re turf areas that might be in front of community centers or adjacent to the sidewalk or curb areas,” Parker said.

“You’ll see areas of yellowing that might be around play structures or around picnic areas that are not heavily used,” he said. “Our active areas where we have active ball-playing — soccer fields, baseball fields — and in some of our high tourist traffic areas, some of our historic resources, we want to do all we can to preserve those areas and keep them looking pretty good.”

The new regulations were prompted by an order by state officials for San Diego to reduce consumption by 16 percent, compared to 2013.

For the public, the amendments include limiting outdoor watering in San Diego to two days a week for no more than five minutes per station and prohibiting irrigation within 48 hours of measurable rain.

The provisions also allow the city to assign watering days and times, clarify language on the washing of pavement and define different types of fountains.

“It’s the situation we’re in — we just have to deal with it,” Councilman Scott Sherman said.

The city has been imposing restrictions on water use since last year, but its regulations don’t include all the orders by the state or San Diego County Water Authority.

Regulations already in place in the city set allowable times for people to water their lawns and vehicles, require leaks to be fixed within 72 hours, and specify that hoses only be used with shut-off nozzles and that fountains be turned off.

Councilman David Alvarez said if the restrictions don’t help reduce consumption in San Diego by 16 percent, the city will have to consider even tighter regulations. He also said he wanted to explore incentives, like rate relief to reward customers who conserve, and rebates other than those offered for replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Story by James Riffel of City News Service

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