GrokSurf's San Diego

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

Mayor slams Voice of San Diego on water pricing; end of Drought Level 2 restrictions sent to City Council for approval

Posted by George J Janczyn on April 20, 2011

A letter from Mayor Sanders “to set the record straight about the city’s water-rate structure” was given to to members of the Natural Resources and Culture Committee at today’s meeting. The letter is highly critical of a recent Voice of San Diego story Most Efficient Water Consumers Pay the Price, Too:


[A reader reports that the above letter is illegible. If the display in the window isn’t clear for you, please try the “Fullscreen” button. If that still doesn’t work for you, here is a link the the PDF: Sanders rebuttal]

As for the committee’s deliberations on the agenda item recommending cancellation of the city’s Drought Level 2 declaration, the request was simple enough: rescind the declaration and its water use restrictions. The most noticeable effect of a cancelled drought alert would be elimination of the 3-day-per-week 10-minute-per-station landscape sprinkling rule. There would be no effect on the relaxed restrictions that were made permanent by ordinance at the city council on Nov 9, 2010 (curiously the city’s press release on that ordinance was entitled “City strengthens water use restrictions“).

Councilmember Carl DeMaio almost derailed the whole discussion by trying to introduce changes to rules already contained in the city ordinance (he thought maybe we should allow landscape sprinklers to water every day but be limited to 10-minutes per day, among other ideas). Councilmember Sherri Lightner set him back on track by pointing out that making changes to the water ordinance can’t be proposed as part of this agenda item, it requires separate public noticing, etc.

Public Utilites Department assistant director Alex Ruiz pointed out that all other regional water agencies have or soon will have cancelled their own drought alerts and that it would be awkward for San Diego to not do the same.

Councilmember Lorie Zapf talked about the need to promote a “water ethic” in the community and the possibility that rescinding the drought declaration would be as good as signaling “all clear” and wipe out the progress made in getting residents to conserve water over the last few years. This was rich coming from the committee that just a few months ago voted against stronger Drought Level 2 restrictions being made permanent regardless of drought status (here’s my report on that mess).

In the end, the committee moved to send the drought alert cancellation to the city council and to pursue changes to the city ordinance separately. I see 10News already has a story out.


3 Responses to “Mayor slams Voice of San Diego on water pricing; end of Drought Level 2 restrictions sent to City Council for approval”

  1. Thanks for posting, George!

    We need to understand that there are wet periods and dry periods. If it is a dry period, we need to adjust our usage. Sometimes legislation doesn’t accommodate those nuances, so I understand the frustration. But, if written properly, we could certainly come up with sound, sustainable policies to address our water needs, instead of say, spending billions on a desal plant in Carlsbad!

  2. Burton Freeman said

    Yes, thanks for the reportage, George. But I’m unable to completely read the letter (the image contains overlaps and other problems). Too bad, since it appears to contain some interesting comments about the subjects, which are water pricing and drought restrictions.

    Unfortunately, the previous comment adds some gratuitous (and inaccurate) remarks on an entirely different topic.

    • I’m sorry you’re having trouble viewing the letter. It looks fine for me and the page has been viewed hundreds of times without complaint from anyone else. I suppose it might not display properly in some mobile devices or if you received the posting through an email subscription to the blog and the email client doesn’t display the letter. In any case, please try the “Fullscreen” button and if that fails, I added a link to the PDF file itself below the window displaying the letter. I hope one of those alternatives will work for you.

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