Water consumption down, but city doesn’t hit mandate number

CARLSBAD — The city’s fight to reduce water once again came up short in January.

But despite not hitting the state mandated water conservation number of 25 percent, water consumption still went down. It was an expected outcome since water consumption drops during the winter months with less irrigation and more rain, according to city officials.

Wendy Chambers, general manager of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, and Mario Remillard, meter and customer services supervisor, reported to the City Council Tuesday the city’s use was down just 20.1 percent for the month.

But thanks to adjustments at the state level, Carlsbad will avoid any reprimands since the state calculates water reduction on a cumulative basis.

“Because we made large investments, we can receive up to 8 percent, which is the max,” Chambers said. “One bad month would not hurt us, but we can make it up.”

In addition, the state water control board will revisit its adjustments for their calculations in April and May, she added. The board will develop and perhaps institute other options for water reduction.

Chambers also reported Gov. Jerry Brown has extended emergency drought protections through October.

The CWMD, meanwhile, expects to receive up to an 8 percent credit by April in large part to the influx of water from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which has accounted for 9 percent of the county’s water supply. Chambers said the plant will be certified by the state in March, while its total water production will become effective in April.

Remillard reported although the city’s reduction was down in January, other measures are being taken to prevent and fix leaks. He said smart meters providing real-time readings allows the district to locate and direct residents or businesses of unexpected consumption or use.

Carlsbad’s efforts have dipped since October when the city hit 27 percent. Since then, totals reached 23 percent in November and 24 percent in December with a cumulative total of 22 percent.

“We will continue to monitor to ensure our target,” Remillard said.

As far as the future, Mayor Matt Hall and the council have repeatedly questioned the state water board’s process for tallying reduction totals. On Tuesday, he asked Chambers what accountability the state would hold for Carlsbad’s decades-long efforts in securing potable and recycled water sources.

Chambers said a “dialogue” is open with the California Department of Water Resources, which she said, “grasps” the situation. As for the water control board, Chambers wasn’t as optimistic.

Hall said one reason Carlsbad went with desalinated water was to provide insurance and a drought-proof source of potable water. In addition, the city has spent more than $30 million over the years in reclamation projects, which so far have not made a difference in the state calculations.

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