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Rancho Santa Fe may face stricter water cutbacks

RANCHO SANTA FE — A recent Santa Fe Irrigation District board workshop attracted high attendance numbers. While staff made recommendations to the board, a May 21 vote will be the determining factor on any future water cutbacks.

According to Jessica Parks, public information officer for the Santa Fe Irrigation District, the board workshop was an opportunity for staff to present recommendations on water allocations, penalties and drought rates.

“We were given from the state a mandate to reduce our total usage by 36 percent and we have to be in compliance by June 1,” she said. “So we had a consultant take a look at how we would be able to achieve a 36 percent cutback.”

The analysis determined the amount of cutbacks for particular customer classes because not everyone could cut back 36 percent.

Parks said when looking at the water usage in its service area, they have mostly single-family residences.

Over 80 percent of its customer base is single-family residences, which include homes in Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch.

“When looking at an allocation methodology, we looked at giving everybody a base allotment. So everyone in our service area, that’s a single family residence, would get 15 units for two months, and that would be for indoor usage as far as health and safety and everything else,” she said. Parks continued, “What we’re asking for as a 45 percent cutback is everything above the 15 units.”

Parks also wants people to know that this allotment will be based on the customers’ 2013 usage.

For example based on the workshop recommendations, Parks pointed out if a resident used 20 units within a two-month period, the District would allow the 15 units, but it’s the five units above that which need to be cut back 45 percent.

“The state is telling us we have to cut back 36 percent. If we don’t comply, we’ll be fined $10,000 a day,” Parks said.

Staff thought the allocation methodology would be a way to help customers stay aligned with the cutbacks. The proposed policy was to allow customers to have 15 units for indoors, but any water usage above that would be deemed as irrigation or nonessential use.

“To be in compliance with that, if a customer goes over their allocated amount, there will be a hefty penalty charge so it’s going to hit people’s pocketbooks if they don’t comply with this allocation methodology,” she said.

The board will make a decision on staff recommendations at its May 21 meeting. For more information on where the meeting will take place visit or call (858) 756-2424.