Posts Tagged ‘Water conservation’
Posted by George J Janczyn on February 28, 2013
Posted by George J Janczyn on June 2, 2012
San Diego has been experiencing warmer weather already and summer isn’t even here yet. If you live on property that has landscaping, you’re probably going to use more water during the next few months.
So the City of San Diego released this timely news release to remind everyone that some of the water use restrictions in the city’s water use ordinance are permanent…drought or no drought.
One such permanent restriction dictates what time of day you may do outdoor watering.
The restricted hours vary a little depending on the season, but in a nutshell outdoor watering is permitted only in the early morning or late afternoon/evening. This law is intended to reduce water waste because a great deal of water is lost to evaporation when watering during the warmest hours of the day. Effective June 1, we’re now bound by the summer schedule specified in the ordinance.
I hope San Diego’s major news media will remind the city’s residents about this as well. Lately I’ve been seeing lawn sprinklers turned on at noon or even later during the warmest part of the afternoon. I’ve even seen lawns in city parks being watered during prohibited hours.
Some people seem to be unaware of the law prohibiting outdoor watering during the warmest time of the day (apparently including some employees at the Park and Recreation Dept.), or else they just don’t care.
Below is a copy of the official news release. If the text is too small for your eyes, you can expand the document to full-screen by clicking the rectangular button at the bottom right corner of the document window (don’t bother with the zoom [+] [-] tools, they won’t get you a full screen):
Posted by George J Janczyn on March 3, 2011
At yesterday’s Natural Resources and Culture Committee meeting, Councilmember Sherri Lightner unveiled her proposal for an overhaul of San Diego water policy. Click here to see the draft policy.
I addressed the committee during the public comments period. Here’s what I had to share:
Good afternoon. My name is George Janczyn. I publish a San Diego water blog and I would like to share some comments on the overhaul of San Diego’s water policy.
First, although we’ve experienced a fairly wet rainy season, the policy should not succumb to popular pressure to ease water use restrictions. Despite our efforts to develop more local supplies like desalination, Indirect Potable Reuse, and groundwater resources, the fact is that San Diego will always get most of its water by importing it. But our northern California supply is being reduced because of limits on pumping from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta; and our current Colorado River allocation is threatened because demand by the lower basin states exceeds what the river can sustain, even if one leaves climate change out of the equation. Eventually there could be reductions in water from the Colorado River as well.
As demand for water grows in San Diego, providing a reliable supply will become more challenging.
San Diegans need to develop a mindset for living in an arid region and discard the notion that strict conservation is needed only periodically when there’s a severe drought. San Diego needs a policy of more rigorous conservation practices…and permanently, not just when there’s a dry year.
Second, the policy should be more assertive in supporting potable reuse for high-quality and reliable local water. Despite the fact that the previous city councils strongly promoted a potable reuse policy, some committee votes more recently have actually hindered development on that front and the new proposed water policy only half-heartedly offers this:
“Support indirect potable reuse if the Water Purification Demonstration Project is successful.”
We need to look forward on the use of IPR.
The original plan was to have full-scale IPR reservoir augmentation that will produce only 16 million gallons per day. What the committee should do now is look into the feasibility of increasing that amount to a meaningful number, say 50 million gallons per day using Direct Potable Reuse, so that it would be on a par with the output of the upcoming Poseidon desalination plant.
Planning for an eventual 50 million gallons per day for San Vicente reservoir augmentation would require study. In order to accommodate that much capacity, the use of San Vicente Reservoir as a six-month environmental buffer might not be possible. While the reservoir could still be used for storage of the purified reclaimed water, the higher volume of water would mean more turnover in the reservoir so the time period would have to be shorter – in essence the indirect potable reuse aspect would cross over into being Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) which would raise new questions about safeguards.
On that topic, note that California Senate Bill 918 (Pavley) would require the State Department of Public Health, in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board, to investigate the feasibility of developing water recycling criteria for DPR. More immediately, I’ve learned the WateReuse Research Foundation might soon support a study on DPR feasibility. The NR&C committee should consider asking the Public Utilities Department to support or coordinate with the Foundation on such research.
In any case, San Diego water policy should more firmly promote Potable Reuse as an integral component of our water strategy.
Posted by George J Janczyn on February 1, 2011
The San Diego Public Utilities Department submitted the following reports for the Feb 2 meeting of the City Council Natural Resources & Culture Committee.
- January update for the Water Purification Demonstration Project (IPR Project)
- Pure News [inaugural newsletter for the Water Purification Demonstration Project
- January update on water conservation and water use restrictions
Posted by George J Janczyn on October 18, 2010
Pulled from the Oct 20 agenda of the Natural Resources and Culture Committee (San Diego City Council)
Posted by George J Janczyn on September 16, 2010
There’s an apt observation contained in this message from the president of the American Water Resources Association:
“…the present level of water use cannot be maintained…We all need to understand water conservation is not just for short-term drought shortages. For example, during the early 1990’s drought water use in San Diego dropped to 147 gallons per person per day but then after the drought use rebounded to 180 gallons per person per day. Conservation and efficiency improvements can and must be adopted on a continuing basis to meet our future water needs. Continuing and more water conservation are needed and each individual can make a difference.”
Once again, in fiscal year 2010 San Diego residents reduced their water usage by 11% over the previous one-year period, largely because of landscape watering restrictions that were enacted. Could those conservation efforts evaporate as before? That looks like a definite possibility.
This past spring Councilmember Donna Frye voiced fear that residents might succumb to a feeling that San Diego’s water supply problems are only due to a temporary drought — that the decent rainy season brings everything back to normal. To counter that mistaken impression, she proposed to make landscape watering restrictions a permanent rule, in particular the limit on how many minutes per day a sprinkler may be operated.
Before the proposal was formally introduced to the Natural Resources and Culture Committee, pressure grew from landscaping contractors with large grassy lawns to maintain (like the American Society of Landscape Architects and the California Landscape Contractors Association) and from homeowners who said they are “tired of living as if there is a drought.”
Consequently, in the days before the Sept. 8 committee meeting, the so-called “10-minute limit” on sprinkler use was quietly removed from the proposal and the committee was presented with a revised ordinance that asks only that San Diegans limit landscape watering to morning and evening hours of the day, with no limits on quantity (and even that milquetoast restriction was opposed by the contractors). As before, real watering restrictions would require a special drought-level 2 or higher declaration by the City Council. The committee approved the revised proposal and sent it on to the Council.
The City Council will soon get to vote on this ordinance that does little more than pay lip service to conservation. Once that passes and the previous watering restrictions are lifted, it will be interesting to see whether public service reminders alone will be enough to prevent consumption from returning to previous levels.
For the foreseeable future, the Council will be faced with figuring out how to limit rate increases needed to pay for increasingly expensive imported and desalinated water. From a strategic viewpoint, it’s not reassuring that they can’t even muster the will to mandate conservation which is “the most favorable and least costly option” for addressing San Diego’s tight water situation.
Posted by George J Janczyn on August 13, 2010
We’ve been hearing it for some time now. Recycling is good, but of everything that has been considered for improving San Diego’s water supply situation, conservation is the easiest, quickest, most productive and cost-effective way to do it.
According to a recent Equinox Center report, conservation has been able to replace about 10% of the region’s potential demand. For the last year, San Diego accomplished this through a temporary reduction in allowable landscape watering and a campaign encouraging individuals to reduce indoor water use by taking shorter showers, flushing less often, not running water while brushing teeth, etc.
Assuming those rules will be made permanent and not expire as a one-time symbolic nod at our unsure water supply, in the future, conservation will nonetheless experience diminishing returns after the easiest and least costly options are implemented. We probably could do better if we had more widespread compliance with mandates now in place, but if we’re going to conserve meaningful amounts of water on a permanent basis, we can’t just make half-hearted temporary gestures. What else can we do? If there are any plans to gather a master list of conservation ideas for our community to consider, here’s an early contribution:
- Require all residential swimming pools to be covered within 5 years
- Lawns permitted only in public parks
- Prohibit lawns on any new commercial or residential development effective immediately
- Existing commercial or residential lawns eliminated or replaced with drought-tolerant plants by the year 2020. Possible variant: residential front yard lawns banned (typically for show only) but small back yard lawns permitted (more likely to be used)
Agree? Disagree? What would you put on the list?
Posted by George J Janczyn on July 19, 2010
The San Diego Independent Rates Oversight Committee (IROC) today voted to express support and encouragement for City Councilmember Donna Frye’s proposal to make the city’s drought-level water use restrictions permanent. The restrictions were mandated last year due to the city’s precarious water supply situation exacerbated by California’s extended drought.
Several committee members pointed out that local or regional drought has little to do with the city’s tight water supply, because our supply is not greatly affected by local conditions but because of conditions (and not only drought-related) in the entire western region that we import from. So, while expressing support for the proposal, they suggested that it would be better to avoid using the word “drought” when considering the restrictions and recognize that the need to more strictly conserve is an ongoing fact of life.
Frye agreed, saying that San Diego should permanently change its water consumption behavior to reflect the reality of the water supply situation, not conserve only under certain circumstances. Water conservation, she pointed out, is the single most cost-effective way for the city to deal with the problem.
Other points made during the discussion:
- Alex Ruiz, SD Water Dept. director, said that about 60% of the city’s water use goes toward outdoor irrigation.
- Donna Frye said she will continue to encourage dialogues, hold workshops, and engage citizen groups to further study the issue. She expects to put the proposed ordinance before the City Council by October.
- Committee member Don Billings wondered if the restrictions should apply to customers using reclaimed water. The consensus was that they should. He also said cost and enforcement issues should be examined, and that tiered pricing to promote conservation is desirable.
- Committee member Todd Webster said he didn’t like the technique of specifically mandating specific times and days that watering is permitted.
- Committee member Jack Kubota expressed dismay that recycled water customers seem to think they should be able to use as much as they want, commenting how incongruous it is to visit Palm Springs and see lush lawns, gardens, and fountain displays everywhere. He also noted that residents who live in areas that overlap with other water districts might chafe with different rules for nearby neighbors (Olivenhain, for example, is rescinding its water use restrictions).
- Chairman Jim Peugh wondered if the permanent restrictions might make it more difficult for the city to impose further restrictions in the future if things get tighter again.
In other news from the committee:
- The contract for the advanced treatment facility for the Water Purification Demonstration Project (IPR Project) will be on the City Council Docket for October 27th.
- Alex Ruiz speculated that San Diego’s 5% increase in water use for the month of June 2010 vs. June 2009 might be because June 2009 was the first month for the drought restrictions and people were inundated with publicity about it.
- The city has had 126 water main breaks in the 2010 calendar year, 9 since June 9, at an average cost of $15,900 per break. There was some discussion about how events are studied post-mortem to improve future preventive measures.
- There were 21 sewer spills so far this calendar year, and most were grease- and root-related. The majority of grease-related spills occur in residential neighborhoods, not in restaurant-heavy zones, which suggests a need for better residential outreach about grease down the kitchen sink drain.
- Ex-officio member Ken Williams (San Diego County Water Authority) noted the upcoming SDCWA meeting on Thursday will consider the possible purchase of Poseidon’s desalinated water. He pointed out that the vote on Thursday is on the question to move forward with the idea. A following meeting would vote on a contract. The oversight committee agreed that this proposal should be watched and would like to invite SDCWA to make a presentation to the committee in the near future. One area of interest was how the treated desal water would be mixed with untreated SDCWA supplies, and what effect the purchase would have on City of San Diego ratepayers. Several expressed surprise that the Mayor and City Council have not spoken about the issue.
Water Conservation Data for San Diego FY 2010 Results
|Customer Group||FY 2010 vs. FY 2009|
|— Single Family||-13.6%|
|— Multi Family||-5.3%|
Single-month conservation comparing June 2010 vs. June 2009
|— Single Family||-2.1%|
|— Multi Family||+14.7%|
Posted in Politics, Water | Tagged: Donna Frye, Drought water use restrictions, Independent Rates Oversight Committee, San Diego Water Department, Water conservation, Water use restrictions | Leave a Comment »