Cities strategize water-saving measures

Cities strategize water-saving measures
Severe drought conditions are evident at Folsom Lake Marina in September. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Cities across California are scrambling to figure out how they will meet Gov. Jerry Brown's mandate to cut water use by 25% over the next year.

State regulators on Tuesday issued proposed water-savings goals, which range in size from a 10% cut to a 35% cut, for more than 400 local water districts.


Q: How were the proposed cuts determined?

The targets were based on the per-capita water use of each community. Areas with high per-capita water use will be required to cut more than ones with lower numbers.

Officials said they measured residential per-capita water use in September 2014 to set the benchmarks. But the state will measure whether each community hits its target by comparing overall water use over the next year with 2013 levels.

Q: So different cities will have to make different-sized cuts?

Yes. For example, areas with the lowest per-capita water use, which include cities such as Santa Cruz and Seal Beach, would be required to cut just 10%. Communities in the 35%-cut category include Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Bakersfield, Redding and South Pasadena.

Q: Where does Los Angeles stand?

L.A. is in the 20% category, along with several other large cities such as San Jose, Long Beach and San Diego.

Q: What is San Diego's plan?

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday ordered a series of water-saving measures to help the city comply.

Faulconer ordered the city Parks and Recreation Department to identify ways to reduce watering at city parks, particularly smaller parks and golf courses. Specific plans for cutbacks will be announced in coming weeks.

Irrigation at parks is the city's largest use of water, Faulconer said at a City Hall news conference.

Faulconer ordered the resumption of a turf-replacement program in which residents can receive rebates for replacing thirsty lawns with more drought resistant landscaping.

Potable water will not be used to irrigate landscaping on street medians, Faulconer said.

Q: Does San Diego plan to go after water wasters?


The Public Utilities Department was directed to begin issuing warnings and then fines for water waste. To report water waste, residents are encouraged to go to the app store on their iPhone or Android device and search for "Waste No Water" to download the app.

Since Nov. 1, San Diego, like many cities, has asked residents to comply with numerous measures, including watering lawns only during three assigned days and not watering during rainy days.

Q: What about other cities?

Officials say they are developing strategies. Beverly Hills says it will have new plans soon. Officials in the Coachella Valley, which includes desert resort towns, said they are looking at conservation rebates and that more water restrictions are likely.

Q: When does the state water board decide on these water targets?

The board is now seeking public comment and plans to vote in early May.