City of Carlsbad water officials heard an update Tuesday on the statewide drought and new state restrictions on water use. Carlsbad Municipal Water District remains at “Drought Alert” status.
On April 1, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a statewide 25 percent reduction of drinkable urban water use through February 2016, and on April 7, the state Water Board proposed regulations to achieve that reduction. The regulations include reductions based on per capita use, and the Carlsbad Municipal Water District would have to reduce consumption by 28 percent, based on a use of 133 gallons per capita per day.
To reduce consumption and conserve water, the Carlsbad Municipal Water District Board of Directors last August declared a Drought Alert, known technically as a Drought Response Level 2. The alert includes the following:
Irrigate residential and commercial landscape between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. only, with a maximum of five minutes per irrigation station, on assigned days.
Water landscaped areas, including trees and shrubs not irrigated by a landscape irrigation system, on the same schedule, using a hand-held device or low-volume non-spray irrigation.
Water waste resulting from inefficient landscape irrigation, such as runoff, low head drainage or overspray, is prohibited. Water flowing onto non-targeted areas, such as adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, hardscapes, roadways or structures, is prohibited.
Repair all leaks within 72 hours.
Use only recirculated water to operate ornamental fountain or similar decorative water features.
Wash vehicles using a bucket and a hand-held hose with a positive shut-off nozzle.
Serve and refill water in restaurants and other food service establishments only on request.
Offer guests in hotels, motels, and other commercial lodging establishments the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.
Use recycled or non-potable water for construction purposes when available.
Water district staff are considering additional measures, including more restrictions, to meet conservation goals. Those will be presented to the Carlsbad Municipal Water District board for consideration at an upcoming meeting.
Carlsbad Municipal Water District Conservation Coordinator Mario Remillard said that the district has implemented several programs over the years to conserve water and reduce consumption, starting with a recycled water program that it instituted 14 years ago. And the district is expecting its first delivery of drinkable water from a new drought-proof supply— the Pacific Ocean — later this year.
Poseidon Water, a private developer, is building the Carlsbad Desalination Project on the grounds of the Encina Power Station at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Poseidon has an agreement with the San Diego County Water Authority to deliver desalinated ocean water for 30 years.
Poseidon officials told the City Council in March that the project is 85 percent complete and may begin delivering water by September, which would be two months ahead of schedule. The pipe linking the plant to the San Diego County Water Authority aqueduct in San Marcos is almost finished. Most of the pipe passes through Carlsbad and the final links, including a tunnel beneath Macario Canyon near Cannon Road and Faraday Avenue, are expected to be connected by this summer.
About 90 percent of San Diego’s water is imported from Northern California and the Colorado River, so desalinated water can ease pressure on those strained supply sources.
Water from the desalination plant will be distributed to all water districts in San Diego County through the San Diego County Water Authority distribution pipeline, making up between 7 to 10 percent of the region’s future water supply. Carlsbad has the option to buy an additional supply for local use.
Even with the additional new supply, Remillard said, the city wants to reduce its total consumption.
“Residents are required to reduce their outside water usage to help during the drought,” Remillard said. “Irrigation of lawns and outdoor landscaping makes up about half of all residential usage, and there are opportunities there to cut our consumption and conserve.”
While looking toward a new supply, the water district is also expanding its recycled water program to conserve drinking water. The water district began development of a recycled water program in 1991, and by 1994 the district was producing 2,000 acre-feet annually. By 2008, the district had more than doubled that output and was delivering approximately 5,000 acre-feet annually. The district is in the process of expanding its recycling plant to increase capacity to about 7,000 acre-feet annually, which would be nearly one-third of the district’s annual water needs. Recycled water is used to irrigate parks, street medians, freeway landscaping, The Flower Fields and golf courses.