Water use in San Diego County dropped 4 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013 even though temperatures last month were higher than average and far higher than they were the prior September. The latest figures indicate that residents and businesses across the region are conserving water; however, more water savings are necessary to preserve stored water reserves in case serious drought conditions continue into 2015.
The year-over-year reduction in potable water use of 4 percent in September is based on figures reported to the San Diego County Water Authority by its 24 member agencies. The total savings is approximately 782 million gallons – enough to serve about 13,300 residents for a year. It adds to savings of approximately 1.2 billion gallons in August 2014, enough to serve about 20,000 residents for a year.
“Our collective efforts are making a difference,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board. “We need to build on that success by reducing outdoor water use during the fall and winter in case drought conditions persist. Every drop we save today is a drop we have in reserves if our imported water supplies are reduced in 2015.”
The average daily temperatures in September 2014 were about 5 degrees above normal, while temperatures were only slightly above normal in September 2013.
Ken Weinberg, director of water resources for the Water Authority, said water use typically would have increased in August and September because of above-normal temperatures – but regional water-use reductions during those months indicate aggressive conservation efforts are working even more than the numbers might suggest. “San Diego County really is moving the needle on conservation, and we are likely to see those gains grow if weather patterns cooperate,” he said.
The past two months of decreases in potable water consumption for the Water Authority’s service area follow a decline of more than 20 percent in regional per capita water use since 2007, an achievement that increases the challenge of making additional conservation gains.
As a wholesale water agency, the Water Authority coordinates drought response actions for San Diego County. The regional Model Drought Response Ordinance, adopted by the Water Authority’s Board in 2008, establishes four levels of drought response with progressive restrictions. The strategy was designed to foster regional consistency and to align demand with supply during water shortages while minimizing harm to the region’s economy.
The Water Authority’s Board has declared a Drought Alert condition calling for mandatory water conservation measures. Restrictions vary by member agency. For information about water-use rules by community, along with details about drought conditions and conservation-related resources, go to www.whenindrought.org.
The San Diego region’s largest water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is expected to withdraw approximately 1.1 million acre-feet of water from storage to meet demand in its service area this year, reducing MWD’s reserves by about half.
The Water Authority is not anticipating reductions to its imported water supplies in 2014 that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks to its member agencies. MWD may impose allocations in 2015 if conditions don’t improve this winter, however, two decades of regional investments in water supply reliability such as independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project will help reduce the impacts of any reductions in imported water supplies.