Carlsbad falls 1% short of water savings goal

Carlsbad falls 1% short of water savings goal
Water use in the city of Carlsbad was down 27 percent in September. Residents and the city have changed landscaping such as drought tolerant measures as used at the Pine Avenue Community Park. Photo by Steve Puterski

However, city officials are encouraged by efforts of residents

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad water users are making their mark.

In the midst of an epic drought, Mario Remillard, meter and customer services supervisor for the city of Carlsbad, updated the City Council last week on conservation efforts.

Remillard said the city came up short of its cumulative target by 1 percent of its September goal in cutting use. Residents reduced water consumption by 27 percent, while the target is 28 percent.

“Overall, I think we are doing well,” Remillard said. “We are getting closer (to the goal).”

Despite missing the goal, Remillard said customers are performing well and is encouraged by countless efforts by residents in saving and transitioning to drought tolerant landscaping and other measures.

In addition, he said the city is engaging in efforts to remove grass with drought tolerant surfaces such as synthetic turf and zeroscaping.

Remillard said a study by the Parks and Recreation and Facilities departments identified numerous areas throughout the city to retrofit plumbing and upgrade landscaping.

“Any facility we could remove turf at, we have and installed drought tolerant,” he said. “We’ve seen water reduction at all our parks … and also at facilities.”

As for residents, Remillard said the compliance has exhausted all of the rebates — metropolitan water and San Diego County Water Authority — for landscaping. He also said the city estimates rebates for low-flow plumbing and irrigation devices will be tapped out by the end of December.

Remillard said customers may be eligible for rebates next year if budgets are replenished.

“It’s a great sign that people are getting after it,” he said. “The device rebates are running out fast. People have really gotten with the program, and that’s great. You can see just by how much California has saved.”

Remillard also attributed the success of water reduction to the city’s campaign, Carlsbad Conserves, an outreach effort to educate customers on conservation.

“We have banners thanking customers for conserving,” Remillard added. “I’m seeing more drought tolerant landscaping, mainly because it’s less expensive. Artificial turf is very expensive.”

Although the news is optimistic, Remillard urged residents to continue their diligent efforts heading into the winter, even as forecasters are predicting a strong El Niño weather pattern to hit the state.

The El Niño is expected to bring above average rain, but Remillard said water users must continue to follow the protocols in place to ensure supply.

He said since Southern California is short in storage facilities, such as reservoirs, the ideal outcome of an El Niño would be heavy rains and a large snowpack in northern California.

“Don’t let the rain fool you,” Remillard said. “We need to continue to have water in storage in case it (the drought) continues next year.”

In July, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District reported a 25 percent average decline in use since June 2013. Total use in September 2015 is down 28.5 percent since September 2013 and 24 percent in August over the same span.

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

“Just continue the good work and we’re thankful for everything they’ve done,” Remillard said about residents.

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