GrokSurf's San Diego

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

Times have changed for water use restrictions in San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 2, 2011

Beginning November 1 there’s a change in the water use restrictions for the City of San Diego: the times residents are permitted to water their landscape have changed to the winter schedule.

This may come as a surprise to many people who have assumed that the lifting of the drought alert meant that they could go back to watering the way they used to. Indeed I often see lawns being watered at noon or early afternoon — and not only at residences and businesses. I frequently see city park grass being watered mid-day during prohibited times! I see a fair amount of hosing down driveways and sidewalks too.

The city would do well to regularly remind residents about the permanent restrictions.

Reprinted here is a portion of the city policy as described in a Public Utilities Department news release:

  • The time of day when watering is allowed (before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. from June to October, and before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. from November to May) is a permanent restriction. This does not apply to irrigation as required by a landscape permit; for erosion control; for establishment, repair or renovation of public use fields; for landscape establishment following a disaster; for renovation or repair of an irrigation system; and for nursery and commercial growers using hand held containers, positive shut off nozzles, or drip/micro-spray systems. The City will review variance applications from customers who feel they cannot abide by this watering schedule.
  • City of San Diego water customers must prohibit excessive irrigation and must immediately correct leaks in their private water systems. The City’s regulations now state that customers “shall not allow water to leave their property due to drainage onto adjacent properties or public or private roadways or streets or gutters due to excessive irrigation and/or uncorrected leaks.”
  • Customers cannot use a running hose to wash down sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios or other paved areas, except to alleviate immediate safety or sanitation hazards, unless that hose is connected to a water efficient device such as a commercial water broom.
  • Overfilling of swimming pools and spas is strictly prohibited.
  • All decorative water fountains must use a recirculating pump.
  • Vehicles may only be washed at a commercial car wash or by using a hose with an automatic shutoff nozzle or with a hand-held water container.
  • The City will not provide new water service connections for customers using single pass-through cooling systems.
  • All new conveyer car wash and commercial laundry systems connections will be required to employ a recirculating water system.
  • Restaurants and other food establishments shall only serve and refill water for patrons upon request.
  • Guests in hotels, motels, and other commercial lodging establishments will be provided the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.

While not commonly granted, some customers may be eligible for a hardship variance (PDF) from these permanent restrictions.

For more information about water conservation and the water use restrictions see the city’s Waste No Water website.


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