North County water use per person ranked among highest in state

North County water use per person ranked among highest in state
The per capita water usage in The Santa Fe Irrigation District, which services Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Fairbanks, is more than 12 times higher than the water district with the lowest usage per capita in the state, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Photo by Ellen Wright

REGION—Two North County cities are among the highest water consumers in California, according to a report published by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Santa Fe Irrigation District, which serves about 19,000 residents in Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Fairbanks Ranch, used on average 584 gallons per capita per day, according to the report.

The cities with the lowest water use in California used less than 50 gallons per capita per day.

General Manager of the district Michael J. Bardin said it’s inappropriate to compare water suppliers throughout the state without considering factors like “rainfall/temperature, population density, local zoning regulations, community character and socio-economic measures.”

Officials at the State Water Board agreed and said the report is not meant to compare districts but instead to evaluate conservation measures.

“(The gallons per capita rate) really does help us to gain a better sense of comparison than simply looking at percentage reductions, since different areas of the state have been conserving for far longer than other areas,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the board said. “It also shows us what is possible.”

Five percent of the agency’s water use is for commercial use. The agency services six golf courses.

Residential use makes up the bulk of the agency’s water use, with 83 percent.

Bardin said the potable water demand has gone down 20 percent over the last seven years.

Rancho Santa Fe’s neighbors use about a fourth of the water.

San Dieguito Water District, which serves about 37,000 residents in Encinitas, averages 110 gallons per capita per day.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District residents use 250 gallons per capita per day.

Oceanside and Vista both average about 100 gallons of water per capita per day and combined have a population of about 295,000 residents.

Residents in the Rincon del Diablo Water District in Escondido use 176 gallons per day.

Every district has issued Stage II of mandatory water restrictions. According to the mandate, people can only use outdoor irrigation for limited times on certain days of the week, can’t water down hard surfaces and must use hoses with shut off nozzles when cleaning cars.

The other city, which tops the list of California water use, is Rainbow. The Rainbow Municipal Water District also services portions of Bonsall, Oceanside and Fallbrook.

Residents average 428.6 gallons of water per day.

The lowest per capita water users were in the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s district with 45.7 gallons per day.

This was the first report the State Water Board has put out and the aim is conservation.

“Every gallon saved today postpones the need for more drastic, difficult and expensive action should the drought continue into next year or beyond,” Marcus said.

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