Mandated water cutbacks addressed at town hall meeting

Mandated water cutbacks addressed at town hall meeting
Santa Fe Irrigation District General Manager Mike Bardin hosts a Town Hall meeting in Rancho Sant Fe to address the need for water cutbacks in its service districts. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene

RANCHO SANTA FE — Nearly every seat at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club ballroom was occupied, leaving many standing during the Santa Fe Irrigation District’s Town Hall meeting, “Dealing With the Drought.”

Entering its fourth consecutive drought year, California is experiencing its driest conditions. And 2014 marked the hottest year ever in San Diego.

The District has issued Level 3 water shortage restrictions and water allocations for its customers living in Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch.

Customers who do not comply will first be issued warnings followed by fines if water habits are not reduced.

A second violation will cost $250, followed by a third violation at $500, and repeat violations will have a price tag of $1,000. The District cited that in extreme cases chronic violators will face flow restrictors and/or possibly water shut off.

“First there is a courtesy notice and then there has to be a consequence,” said Mike Bardin, general manager of SFID at the June 23 meeting.

In early June, SFID customers were named “the largest water users in California,” when their usage increased as other cities decreased. Even with the restriction and conservation efforts, the percentages climbed.

If SFID customers don’t comply in cutting back their water usage, beginning July 1, the state has the authority to fine SFID $10,000 a day.

“It’s the worst drought in state history,” Bardin said. “Our local water supply has run out.”

During the comprehensive presentation, Bardin told the crowd that Lake Hodges, which has been the community’s local water supply, is depleted. Other local water supplies are at an all- time low.

According to Bardin, the state is entering unprecedented territory. Governor Brown issued an executive order indicating that while the state needed to slash water use at 25 percent, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) enforced SFID a reduction of 36 percent. This organization determined that SFID had the highest demand for water in the state.

SFID is utilizing a restriction and allocation methodology.

“The goal is to help reduce waste and slow down the demand,” Bardin said.

Each single family residence will receive 15 units, also known as HCF (one hundred cubic feet), for two months of indoor usage. Anything over the 15 units is required to scale back 45 percent based on a customer’s usage from 2013. Part of this 45 percent cutback includes outdoor watering which is now restricted to two-days per week for no more than 10 minutes.

The allotment begins on July 1 and penalties are expected to appear after the first billing period at around September 1.

To help minimize the water cutbacks and prevent penalites, Bardin said, he asked those in attendance to reach out to the District for help.

“Take advantage of our free residential checkup,” he said, adding how an audit and recommendations is beneficial. “And I also encourage you to visit our website since we are continuing to add more information.”

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