The Coast News Group

Water restrictions waived for Cardiff Sports Park

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Water District has waived its drought restrictions for the city of Encinitas for its annual turf renovation at the Cardiff Sports Park during one of the most serious droughts in state history.

The water district, which serves 38,000 customers in Leucadia, Old Encinitas, Cardiff and portions of New Encinitas, enacted drought measures requiring the district reduce its water usage by 28 percent and limit lawn watering to two days per week.

As part of the variance the water district approved on Monday, to allow the city to water the new turf four times a day, seven days a week, starting later this month for the upper fields and July for the lower fields.

Cardiff Sports Park is the only city sports park that still uses potable water for irrigation.

The water district defended its decision to grant the variance, saying that it would otherwise render Cardiff’s athletic fields unsafe for children.

“Annual sports turf renovation is required to provide safe playing surfaces for sports and overall general park use,” the water district said in a news release. “The City Parks and Recreation Department serves many youth sports groups that play on these fields, ranging from soccer, softball and baseball, which all require a safe playable area.

“Additional water is needed to accommodate the aggressive turf over-seeding that is necessary to create healthy, resilient athletic fields,” according to the news release. “Young turf grass needs to be kept moist at all times, which requires multiple daytime watering cycles.”

The Water District board, which is basically the Encinitas City Council, approved the variance because the parks and recreation department agreed to offset the increased watering at Cardiff by reducing watering at other parks that don’t have athletic fields.

“The request for a variance was approved because the main intention of the mandatory water use restrictions was to limit the irrigation of ornamental turf.  The turf at the Cardiff Sports Park is not ornamental; it provides playing surfaces that are used by thousands of people monthly and we need to keep them well maintained,” said Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who serves as the water district’s board president.  “I applaud the Parks & Recreation staff for figuring out an innovative way to offset the additional water required at the Cardiff Sports Park by reducing water use in other parks by more than an equivalent amount.”

The district anticipates that water use will be reduced by 10,000 gallons per week in June and 7,000 gallons per week in July despite the additional water required at Cardiff. Water cuts at other parks will come from reducing sprinkler run times by a few minutes at each station, according to the news release.