Del Mar lowers drought response level

DEL MAR — Council members opted to follow state and local recommendations and agreed to reduce the drought response to Level 1.

Last month, when staff suggested the change based on increased water supplies due to winter storms and Carlsbad’s desalination plant going online, Councilman Don Mosier called the move “premature” and a “big mistake because … two-thirds of the state is still in a drought.”

“You’re undoing a good program,” Mosier said at last month’s meeting in an effort to convince his colleagues to leave the response level unchanged. “This community’s adapted to using less water, and I think we should continue to do that.”

Councilman Dwight Worden agreed with Mosier’s arguments as a matter of policy.

“But as a regulatory matter it doesn’t feel right to me,” he said. “We’re going to be out power washing the sidewalks while we tell people we’re not lifting the restrictions on other things.”

Mosier and Worden worked to create a compromise resolution, adopted at the July 5 meeting, which lowers the drought response level but urges people to continue voluntarily conserving water by following measures adopted during the Level 2 response.

“This means that residents and businesses will be encouraged to minimize outdoor landscape irrigation to two days per week,” the staff report states.

The decision was based on the fact that Southern California remains in a drought, water storage reservoirs statewide have been depleted and Del Mar’s per capita water use remains among the highest in the region.

Beach showers have been turned back on and public landscaping that is distressed will be irrigated. The city will also begin power washing sidewalks for health and safety reasons.

The state water board has permanently prohibited practices that waste potable water, such as washing cars with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle, using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, overwatering lawns and causing runoff and watering within 48 hours after measurable precipitation.

Irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians and serving drinking water other than on request in restaurants are also not allowed.

Mosier said the adopted resolution was crafted “to stay in step with the San Diego County Water Authority.”
“And enforcing Level 2 restrictions could be challenging if the region is at Level 1,” he added. “So the best compromise was to encourage continuing water conservation as if Level 2 were still in place, but only enforce violations of the state restrictions that were not rescinded.”

City staff members will prepare and implement a public education program to update residents and businesses on the status of water-use restrictions for Del Mar.

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