GrokSurf's San Diego

Local observations on water, environment, technology, law & politics

Water consumption down, don’t be too relieved

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 28, 2009

In San Diego County, total water use for the months of July, August and September was down 11 percent compared to the same period in 2008. The 11% reduction since July equals approximately 22,000 acre-feet (AF) of water. Over the course of a year, 22,000 AF can supply approximately 44,000 households with water, according to Teresa Penunuri at the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), who also referred me to their chart showing water use totals for July-September 2009.

It’s great that San Diegans curtailed water consumption, but I’m disappointed that many more people haven’t caught on to the problem. When I drive through various neighborhoods I don’t have to look very hard to see many residential lawns still a lush, moist, green. I did see plenty of lawns that looked thirsty too, but either way I don’t think we should be maintaining lawns at all in San Diego, except in parks. As for residential swimming pools, perhaps they could be converted into rainwater/greywater collection systems covered with a blanket of soil to allow planting of California natives.

A backdrop to our conservation success is population growth. A recent estimate by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) projects an additional 1.3 million residents by 2050 (report by VoSD). Those people will consume a lot more than 22,000 AF of water! I recommend reading Dr. Peter Gleick’s (Pacific Institute) discussion on population and water: Part 1; Part 2.

On the development front, although housing permits are at historically low levels (linked story contains several unrelated news items), probably due to the economy, SANDAG is trying to stimulate new development in the county by working to eliminate barriers to development “which may include complex development entitlement and permitting processes, construction defect litigation, and development standards that do not reflect the goal of providing more housing.” Good to see SANDAG pitching in to help.


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