The Coast News Group

Carlsbad water users come up short in October

CARLSBAD — Efforts in water reduction came up short again of the state’s 28 percent benchmark for the city.

During Tuesday’s Municipal Water District Meeting, which is run by the city council, Wendy Chambers, the district’s General Manager, reported a total reduction of 25 percent compared to October 2013.

In addition, the city also levied its first fines since Gov. Jerry Brown mandated statewide water cuts. In total, four “agencies” were cited for a combined $61,000. The names of the agencies were not disclosed.

Those agencies not in compliance were fined $500 per day, according to Chambers.

“The state board said ‘too little, too late,’” Chambers explained when those entities challenged the fines. “They were eight to nine percent off target.”

Mario Remillard, meter and customer service supervisor for the district, told the board the “Carlsbad Conserves” campaign is sending out 24,000 mailers to homeowners detailing the city’s use of recycled water.

Also, as winter nears and with expected rains to increase, the water district will again make further cuts. Residents will only be allowed to irrigate once per week, down from the current twice-per-week policy. The new policy begins Dec. 1.

Customers will smart controllers are exempt from the policy, Remillard said.

Remillard also noted one factor working against residents as to why consumers fell short. Last month was an average 10 degrees warmer than two years ago.

But despite aggressive efforts to reach the city’s 28 percent mandate, Mayor Matt Hall expressed frustration with the state’s broad cuts.

Hall said this is the between three and five times Carlsbad residents have been required to reduce water consumption over the past 20 years. This year, however, struck a cord with Hall as numerous property owners cannot cut any more, thus affecting the city’s numbers. He said the state did not take into consideration several factors of not only Carlsbad, but other Southern California cities when creating the reduction plan.

“Homes should be allocated,” Hall said. “We do all this and have to ask citizens (to cut) for a fifth time.”

Chambers agreed stating, “25 percent across the board really is not fair.”

Hall, using 1990 as a measuring stick, said the city used more water 25 years ago than it does today, even with a much larger population. In addition, he said the state does not credit the city even with the desalination plant coming on line next month.

“We should draw a line in the sand until a judge tells us (otherwise),” Hall said.

Chambers, meanwhile, said the city is trying to push a regional outlook to water conservation adding, “there is no rhyme or reason for this whole thing.”