San Diego eases water use restrictions


Automatic sprinkler

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SAN DIEGO — The City Council Tuesday eased restrictions on water use instituted in the face of the drought, following reports of ample local supply in San Diego.

Water conservation efforts will be voluntary with the switch from a Level Two Drought Alert response to a Level One Drought Watch, though city officials will continue to urge efficient use.

Beginning in June last year, San Diegans and residents statewide were required to cut back consumption by varying amounts, determined for individual districts by state water officials, and customers in most local agencies exceeded their targets.

The orders were recently removed in San Diego County after regional water authorities certified that enough water was on hand to meet demand for the next three years, even if they’re dry.

“I want to take an opportunity to explicitly thank the citizens of San Diego for their substantial efforts to conserve water as required by the state mandate,” council President Sherri Lightner said. “San Diegans went above and beyond in their efforts to conserve, and these efforts deserve recognition.”

Under a Drought Watch, residents are allowed to irrigate their lawns three days a week instead of two. San Diegans are also asked to voluntarily water trees and plants with a shut-off nozzle, pail or hose sprinkler system; and wash cars before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. with a shut-off nozzle.

Customers will still find inserts in bills promoting water conservation and see similar messages via social media. City officials also plan to continue rebates for things like purchasing rain barrels and pressure regulation valves.

“I think the education component is getting out there, we’re doing a fairly good job of it,” Councilman Scott Sherman said. “People are starting to realize we live in a coastal desert; saving water is a good idea.”

While city restrictions will ease, certain state requirements remain in effect. They include bans on:

— hosing off driveways, sidewalks and similar hardscapes;

— washing vehicles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle;

— using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative water feature;

— irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians; and

— watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.

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