Water use down 25 percent in Carlsbad

Water use down 25 percent in Carlsbad
Water customers in Carlsbad cut water use an average of 25 percent this past June, compared to June 2013, Carlsbad Municipal Water District staff said July 21. Photo courtesy Wikimedia

CARLSBAD — The extensive outreach to curb water-use in the city is paying off.

Water customers in Carlsbad cut water use an average of 25 percent this past June, compared to June 2013, Carlsbad Municipal Water District staff said July 21.

“This is a tremendous response from our community,” said Wendy Chambers, general manager of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. “We are within a few percentage points of the state’s target in the first month.”

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a statewide average of 25 percent reduction of drinkable urban water use through February 2016.

The Carlsbad Municipal Water District must reduce consumption by 28 percent.

The city has taken a few steps to reduce water use, including a turf rebate program and a conservation campaign targeted at residents.

The $350 million that was available from the turf rebate program has been spoken for.

Chambers said 175 million square feet of turf would be removed as a result of the program.

About 160 water conservation signs have been given out to local businesses and residents to raise awareness of the new rules and encourage conservation.

The San Diego County Water Authority is also introducing a smartphone app to make it easier for people to report water waste using pictures. The app will be out in early August.

Mayor Pro Tem Keith Blackburn expressed concern that the app would encourage neighbors to snitch on each other.

Chambers stressed that CMWD staff is taking the education route and talking with offenders before fining them.

In August, residents will be able to compare their water usage from the same month in 2013 on their water bill.

Staff has added a chart that will break down current and past water usage to make residents cognizant of their water usage and to signal if habit changes are needed.

Another option the city is looking at to reduce water is fill stations for recycled water. Throughout Carlsbad, residents and commercial users will be able to fill up tanks with recycled water.

“You can pull tankers in and we would load recycled water. This water could be used for street sweeping, store cleaning, dust control, and residential and commercial irrigation,” Chambers said.

Water district staff is currently planning a refill station at the Carlsbad Water Recycling Facility and the Carlsbad Safety Training Center although the plan still needs approval from the San Diego County of Environmental Health and the State Water Resources Control Board.

In the future, Chambers said staff would look into capturing storm water runoff because there is no infrastructure in place to capture it.

“Right now it’s pretty much up to individuals to install rain barrels and such,” Chambers said.

One of the challenges the city faces is counting individual tourists. The state water board isn’t looking at individual’s water use per capita per day.

Instead, hotel’s overall water consumption is monitored.

Mayor Matt Hall said the lack of measurement is a problem because it is difficult to monitor individual tourist’s water usage.

Chambers told the council they’re trying to “figure out how to tell that story,” in regards to tourists per capita water usage.

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