CMWD board memebers’ frustrations grow over state mandated water reductions

CARLSBAD — Although city efforts to reduce water usage by 28 percent fell short in November, the efforts made by residents, businesses and city departments has not gone unnoticed by the Board of Directors of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District.

Last month’s efforts netted a 24 percent reduction throughout the district.

The board, which is comprised of the City Council, met Tuesday and approved a resolution recommending modifications to the California Water Resources Control Board’s drought emergency regulations.

Frustration among the board is growing, as the state currently does not take into several factors of reduced usage.

Among those concerns are the city’s 24 percent overall reduction in potable dependency since Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order on May 5 mandating statewide cuts.

Wendy Chambers, general manager of CMWD, reported to the board the district has also reduced its water purchasing from the San Diego County Water Authority by 17.7 percent in November.

Complicating matters further, Brown signed another executive order on Nov. 13 declaring the emergency be extended through October 2016 if severe drought conditions are not scaled back after the expected large rainy season due to El Niño.

Although Carlsbad is struggling to meet the demands set by the state, Chambers said a city official was in Sacramento on Monday to present the city’s concerns.

In addition, she said chairwoman Felicia Marcus is advocating for change.

“I know the chair (Marcus) would like to see changes now,” Chambers said.

Chambers also noted the city’s concerns include sustainable water supplies, recycled water, which totals 24 percent, account for offsets from tourism demands and growth, establishing an alternate compliance plan if recycled water credits are not credited and the state board should consult with local, state and federal agencies to evaluate hydrological conditions and make adjustment consistent with regional conditions.

Mayor Matt Hall said the city agrees with Brown’s approach, but it is time to adjust the calculations as each city and regional has different conditions.

“It’s like beating the good child and rewarding the bad one,” he added.

Adding to the reasons documented, Hall said the state has not considered Carlsbad’s significant investment in expanding its recycled water plant and soon-to-be online desalination facility.

Those investments, according to CMWD documents, totals $53 million for developing and expanding the recycling facility plus $100 million from customer’s over the life of the desalination plant.

“We’ve been investing for years,” he said. “It isn’t fair. I’m not sure how we get this point across.”

Mario Remillard, CMWD’s meter and customer services supervisor, urged customers to switch to smart controllers, drip and micro irrigation systems, which are exempted from the city’s one-day per week watering mandate passed last month.

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