We must all decrease our water use!

The drought is worsening and drastic calls are escalating for local residents, businesses and local governments to each do their part by reducing water use and improving water supplies.

In other words, take up the Water Savings Challenge!

The reasons every resident in our service area needs to reduce their water use is compelling and urgent:

• Hottest weather on record — Last year was the hottest year on record in San Diego County and California (dating back to 1895).

• Driest years on record — 2012-2014 was the driest three-year period on record for the state.

• Snowpack is only 19 percent of average — Statewide snowpack is about 19 percent of the long-term average.

• State Water Allocation is only 20 percent — this critical source for the entire County has been initially set at only 20 percent of requested supplies.

• District has no more water in Lake Hodges because of low rainfall — The District has used up its local water supply in Lake Hodges and the lack of  rain has resulted in no water for this summer.

As the extreme drought continues into a fourth year, the District’s water supply will almost certainly be cut by 10 percent or more by summer.

We are, therefore, asking customers to cut their water use in order to save water now for the upcoming year and to make up for some of the drought losses.

If some residents are not conserving with the mindset that they are positioning themselves for better water allocations if the drought continues, please understand that if the District were to go to allocations, the basis would not be water consumption for this year.

February was an unusually dry and hot month, and the amount of water consumed during this month was the highest it’s been in the past decade.

This demonstrates that water use is influenced by weather conditions and irrigation.

Reducing water use will not be easy in this unseasonably dry, warm weather.

Water use in the District has, in fact, been rising rather than falling.

Even though our community’s many large properties require significant amounts of water to sustain their current status, we must find a way to reduce use compared to previous years like everyone else in the state.

Our collective failure to cut back water use is attracting statewide negative attention.

To help you reduce your use, we ask that you adhere to the mandatory Level 2 Water Shortage requirements in place and participate in our free Water Saving Checkups, both described below.

Customers must comply with the Level 2 mandatory water shortage requirements.

These include assigned days for watering (ODD addresses on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and EVEN addresses Monday, Wednesday, Saturday) as well as limitations on irrigation time on lawns to 10 minutes for each watering station, no washing of hard surfaces, prohibition of overspray and waste, including runoff, and more. Please see our website for details of the mandatory conservation measures.

Contact the District to obtain a free Water Saving Checkup, which can help you reduce water waste by 20 percent or more.

To help customers meet the Water Savings Challenge, the District offers numerous programs, including a new conservation program focused on helping those with large properties use water more efficiently.

But there are also programs for commercial, multifamily, industrial, public or smaller single-family properties.

The Water Saving Checkup program sends certified landscape professionals and other water conservation experts to check irrigation systems and other water use, and provide detailed estimates of repairs and water efficiency upgrades.

The specific services depend on the property. There is no cost or obligation and the report provides everything customers need to save water.

For more information about all our water conservation programs or to apply for a free Checkup, please visit sfidwater.org/checkup or call our office at (858) 756-2424.

The District is undertaking comprehensive drought and water supply program.

The water supply program includes: 1) evaluating recycled water supply options with 10 local agencies; 2) undertaking an Advanced Water Purification Concept Study, which will evaluate the feasibility and cost of taking recycled wastewater and treating it to potable water use levels; 3) conducting a rate study that will consider new tiers to promote water conservation and identify the rates needed to fund alternative water supply efforts.

The District will provide extensive outreach on these programs as they progress, as well as provide numerous opportunities for the public to learn more and provide input.

Michael Bardin is the general manager of the Santa Fe Irrigation District.

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