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Water restrictions ahead for Ranch residents

RANCHO SANTA FE — “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over,” Mark Twain said. Many residents in Rancho Santa Fe and surrounding communities could find that to be true as water rationing restrictions will be put in place by July 1. Residents attending the annual meeting for Whispering Palms on March 24 were given insight on the upcoming restrictions when Kimberly Thorner, general manager for the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, or OMWD, addressed the crowd.
“Most of the water usage is outdoors,” Thorner said. “It takes 48 inches of water annually to make grass green. In 2007, we only had four inches.” OMWD distributes water to Whispering Palms, Fairbanks Ranch and other communities surrounding the Covenant. Thorner anticipated that the OMWD board in May will commence Level 2 mandatory restrictions setting limits of water irrigation to three days per week for no more than 10 minutes. “There will be ‘water cops’ on patrol to look for those who are wasting water,” Thorner said. “But no additional staff will be hired; only those already employed by OMWD.” According to Thorner, heavy water users will be penalized, but residents who achieve a lower level of water usage will receive a lower water bill. Thorner said OMWD has many programs available to help save water. Several homeowner associations including Alcala, The Villas and The Greens sought advice from OMWD to conserve water for common areas in the associations.
OMWD is currently diversifying its supply, of which 6 percent is from recycled water and is used on golf courses, open spaces and common area. OMWD is also a partner with Poseidon Carlsbad Desalination plant and will receive 5,000 acre-feet of desalinated water for its service area when the plant comes online.
After the presentation by OMWD, Charlie Baker, president of the Whispering Palms Community Council, introduced Denean Rivera, who announced the formation of a new association within Whispering Palms — The Greens of Whispering Palms. “After many years struggle, we are now one unified community,” Rivera said. For years there has been a struggle between homeowners of Greens I, II, and III and developer Richard Cavanaugh. The homeowners of The Greens have formed a nonprofit corporation and all legal transfer of control was finalized this past week, according to Rivera. Dues for homeowners are $100 per year and Rivera said that a board is up and running. “This will be a great step forward,” she said.
After four years as president, Charlie Baker is stepping down from the position, but not before he encouraged residents of Whispering Palms to become more active in their community. “Eighty percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people,” Baker said. “Let’s make it at least 60/40.” David Nugent, president of the Alcala Homeowners Association, presented Baker with a gift of thanks for his many years of devoted service. “No one has worked harder than Charlie. He’s as graceful as Fred Astaire yet as tenacious as Attila the Hun.”