Escondido latest city to ease up on water restrictions

ESCONDIDO — With the city and county water supply in tact, the City Council voted to lift some water restrictions during their meeting last week.

Moving from a Response Level 2 to a Level 1, the approval removes the three-day per week, seven minute per station restriction. Those limitations were put in place in June 2015.

Recent changes to state mandates allow for a flexible approach to conservation after Escondido and San Diego County showed sufficient supplies available for the coming years.

“I think the state is relaxing the rules,” Mayor Sam Abed said. “I think it has really affected the quality of life in the neighborhoods.”

Chris McKinney, public utilities director, said there are now no mandatory restrictions other than no watering between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, he still urged residents to water conservatively, while Abed stressed using best management practices.

Escondido’s supply and carryover storage from San Diego County were accidentally omitted from being reported to the State Water Resources Board earlier this year, McKinney said. Without those numbers, it appeared there was a 6 percent demand the city could not meet.

McKinney said once those numbers were corrected, the city will hit a zero percent demand.

“Like all other water agencies, our target will be zero,” he added. “That’s not going to saying we’re not trying to conserve water. We are not going to be mandated to reach further levels of conservation.”

As part of the new state regulations, these standards require local water agencies to ensure a viable supply assuming three more dry years like the ones the state experienced from 2012 to 2015. Water agencies facing shortages under three additional dry years will be required to meet a conservation standard equal to the amount of shortage.

For example, if a water agency projects it would have a 10 percent supply shortfall, their mandatory conservation standard would be 10 percent.

“If the rest of the state of California had done what the San Diego Water Authority had done in San Diego, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” Councilman Ed Gallo said. “The north and south have been fighting over water for a couple hundred years.”

Customers, however, are still encouraged to use water wisely. As a reminder, the following restrictions are enforced at all times regardless of the response level.

Those include leaks and line breaks must be repaired as soon as they are discovered; eliminate excessive runoff from over watering; irrigate landscapes between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 a.m.; fountains must re-circulate the water; washing any vehicle with a hose not having a water shut-off nozzle is prohibited; washing hardscape with a hose or other pressurized source is prohibited; watering or irrigating outdoor landscaping with potable water during rainfall or within 48 hours if rainfall is prohibited; hotel or motel must provide guests with the option not to have towels and/or linens laundered daily; and restaurants or other places where food is served will not serve drinking water to customers unless requested                            by the customer.

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