ENCINITAS — A vote July 21 by the San Dieguito Water District Board, which is comprised of the Encinitas City Council members, to remain at a Stage 2 drought level reflects the persistent need to conserve water in the area according to some.
Conservation groups applauded the decision.
“San Dieguito Water District is, fortunately for Encinitas residents, one of
the most forward-thinking, responsible water departments in San Diego,” said Sara Honadle, programs director of Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation. “They have already maximized recycled water use for irrigation, and the fact that they have decided to keep Encinitas at Stage 2 drought level further indicates that they are responsibly managing our current limited supply.”
The council’s vote was 4-1 with Councilman Jerome Stocks opposed.
The majority said keeping the watering restrictions in place was a cautious move. The region’s water supply faces an uncertain future despite last winter’s rains according to some on the council.
Councilman James Bond, who has served for years as the local representative to the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board, which determines the allocation of water to each district, called the water situation “fragile.”
The region gets most of its water from the Sacramento delta area and the Colorado River and both areas have seen reductions in supply lately he said.
“The majority of county water departments have chosen to not to limit water use because conservation is perceived as politically unsavory and reduces income to the districts. However, they are only exacerbating our region’s unsustainable waste of potable water,” Honadle said.
Several San Dieguito Water District customers have been campaigning for the district to ease draught restrictions that went into effect in July 2009.
They have noted that Olivenhain Municipal Water District, which supplies the eastern parts of town, has dropped down to a “Level 1” status.
Under a Level 2 status, “recommended” conservation measures become mandatory, and residents are limited to watering landscaping only three days a week.
Each sprinkler can run for 10 minutes or less, and the sprinkling can only occur after 6 p.m. and before 8 a.m.
“I don’t think there’s a need to be this punitive to our small water district customers,” Stocks said in an interview after the meeting. “Our citizens have conserved water. We didn’t use our entire allocation last year. The county hasn’t changed the allocation. In these tough economic times I don’t think it’s justified.”
Others in the conservation business disagree with Stocks’ assessment of the water situation and the need for enforcement of conservation efforts. “The measures are reasonable and common sense. Jumping back between Level 1 and Level 2 is confusing so the more we can make it a consistent message, then the more it will fit into people’s lives,” said Gabriel Solmer, legal director of San Diego Coastkeeper. “If there’s no enforcement mechanism than it’s just not going to happen. We live in a coastal desert. We need to find the appropriate landscape and water it appropriately.”