FAQs for
Residential
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What is the best way to save water?

That depends on the specific attributes to your home. To help evaluate where you could begin, visit our residential water-use calculator.

Changes made to your outdoor landscape have the potential to bring about the greatest water savings because many people have already replaced water-wasting devices inside their homes and businesses.

Why should we conserve water?

Our Mediterranean climate means truly wet years are few and multiple dry years are common. Our region will continue to face significant water supply challenges in the future, so living a WaterSmart lifestyle – intelligently using our available water resources and avoiding water waste – needs to be an embedded community ethic. Fortunately, our region is embracing water conservation as a social norm; a 2015 public opinion poll showed that 85 percent of our region’s residents agreed that the current water supply situation is very serious and nearly two-thirds supported mandatory water-use restrictions to combat the drought. The Water Authority expects conservation to make up to 13 percent of the region's water supply needs by 2020.

How much water does the San Diego region use?

Per capita water use in the Water Authority’s service area has fallen from more than 200 gallons per person/day to about 150 gpcd (gallons per capita per day) over the past decade. In 2014 total regional use of potable water was less than it was in 1990, even with a population increase of approximately 30 percent over that period. Since 1991, the Water Authority’s water use efficiency programs and initiatives cumulatively have conserved more than 930,000 acre-feet of water. These savings have been achieved through measures ranging from incentives on water-efficient devices, to legislative efforts, to outreach campaigns and programs. The region is on track to meet the state’s mandate to reduce per capita water use 20 percent by 2020.

What is the one thing I should do to conserve water?

Many people don’t realize that a majority of water use—and water waste—occurs outdoors. Limiting or improving the efficiency of your outdoor water use is the best way to save large amounts of water. Find and fix leaks, adjust sprinklers that spray paved areas, and adhere to any landscape watering rules set by local water providers. These steps can save a lot of water without sacrificing a healthy landscape.

Are incentives available for homeowners?

The Water Authority makes saving water easier with several programs and incentives .

How much rainwater can you catch from the roof?

Using a rain barrel to collect water when it rains is a great idea.  In theory, you can collect about 0.62 gallons per square foot of collection surface per inch of rainfall.  Keep in mind that in our semi-arid climate most the precipitation we receive is from December through March.  In the summer it is unlikely that you will be able to catch any rainfall.

How much water does a pool use?

A typical outdoor pool holds 20,000 gallons of water.  The best way to save water if you have a pool is to keep it covered when it’s not in use to reduce evaporation.

Where does San Diego County's water come from?

About 70 percent of the region's water is imported from the Colorado River and Northern California. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is the Water Authority’s largest supplier, providing 45 percent of the water supplies for the region in 2012. Since 2003, the Water Authority has received a growing percentage of its water supply from long-term water conservation and transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District and conserved water from projects that lined portions of the All-American and Coachella canals in Imperial Valley.  Other local supply sources include groundwater, local surface water and recycled water.  The Water Authority also has a contract to buy desalinated seawater from the Carlsbad Desalination Project.  Water from that project is expected to be available starting in 2016

Why is checking for leaks so important?

Even small leaks can waste considerable amounts of water. Fixing a single leaky faucet can save up to 20 gallons per day.

Is there a specific law governing landscape water use in California?

Yes. Assembly Bill 1881 (2006) required all local agencies to adopt a water-efficient landscape ordinance by Jan. 1, 2010. The California Department of Water Resources’ Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance reflects the state’s policy of promoting conservation and efficient use of water in landscapes.  In addition, land-use agencies within San Diego County have enacted water-efficient landscaping ordinances.  Visit the state’s landscape ordinance for more information or check with your local water agency for any ordinances for your area.

FAQs for
Business
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How can my HOA reduce its water use?

Irrigation systems lose efficiency as they age. The lifespan of an irrigation system is around 20 years, so if you have an old or inefficient system, it may be time for system improvements. Landscaperscan overwater to make up for leaks in aging systems. Consider a landscape audit to identify areas for improvement. A free landscape evaluation and incentives for irrigation upgrades and services may be available for your site.

How much water and money may be saved by replacing turf grass with WaterSmart landscaping?

WaterSmart landscapes can use up to 50 percent less water than conventional counterparts. The amount of water saved depends on several factors, including the amount of turf removed, the type of plants installed, the irrigation system and the soil type. This is why proper design, installation and maintenance is so important. A WaterSmart landscape is also less work to maintain than grass – reduced or no mowing, blowing, or hauling away clippings.   Another advantage is the reduction or elimination of the use of chemicals such as fertilizers. 

Visit WaterSmart Turf Replacement Program or call 1-866-685-2322 for more information.

What should my property manager and/or landscape contractor do to ensure water is used efficiently?

Begin with an evaluation of the property to identify areas for improvement. Check current programs to see if a free WaterSmart Checkup is available for your site. From there, establish a priority list, a plan of action and a budget. Maintenance is also essential. As part of routine maintenance, contractors should turn on the irrigation system and walk the property looking for problems. Encourage residents to report water-related problems such as leaks and broken or misaligned sprinklers, and designate an HOA employee to communicate those problems to the landscape contractor.

How can I conserve water in my business?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a guide called,“Using Water Efficiently:  Ideas for Commercial Businesses.” EPA's WaterSense program has also developed a website dedicated to commercial water-use efficiency that focuses on water use in specific industries, such as hospitals, hotels and restaurants.

What does water recycling mean?

Water recycling is the treatment and disinfection of municipal wastewater to provide a water supply suitable for non-drinking purposes.  Recycled water gives San Diego County a dependable, year-round, locally controlled water resource. Local agencies use recycled water to fill lakes, ponds and ornamental fountains; to irrigate parks, campgrounds, golf courses, freeway medians, community greenbelts, school athletic fields, food crops and nursery stock; and to control dust at construction sites. Recycled water can also be used in certain industrial processes, flushing toilets and urinals in non-residential buildings, and only for outdoor irrigation at homes.

Where does San Diego County's water come from?

About 70 percent of the region's water is imported from the Colorado River and Northern California. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is the Water Authority’s largest supplier, providing 45 percent of the water supplies for the region in 2012. Since 2003, the Water Authority has received a growing percentage of its water supply from long-term water conservation and transfer agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District and conserved water from projects that lined portions of the All-American and Coachella canals in Imperial Valley.  Other local supply sources include groundwater, local surface water and recycled water.  The Water Authority also has a contract to buy desalinated seawater from the Carlsbad Desalination Project.  Water from that project is expected to be available starting in 2016

What incentives are available for businesses?

The Water Authority makes saving water easier with several programs and incentives

What on-farm methods can increase water-use efficiency?

Irrigation Scheduling

Irrigation water management is critical to the health and productivity of groves and orchards.  The Water Authority offers a free irrigation system evaluation to help growers assess their irrigation schedules and systems.  Visit the Water Authority’s Agricultural Water Management Program to learn more.  Using a more scientific approach to scheduling has generally been shown to decrease the amount of water applied while improving yield. Visit California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) for more information.

Irrigation System Improvements

Changing from surface irrigation (flood, furrow, etc.) to pressurized systems (sprinkler, drip, micro-irrigation) generally increases irrigation distribution uniformity and decreases applied water. In California, there has been a shift from surface irrigation to pressurized systems. However, with certain soil types and applications, surface irrigation can be very efficient.

Visit http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/agricultural/ for more information.

If my agency does not have an outdoor water conservation plan in place, where should we begin?

The saying goes, “An ounce of planning is worth a pound of cure.”  One of the keys to managing urban landscapes sustainably is good planning.  Below are a few suggestions for getting organized:

  • Site map -- For landscape irrigation purposes, a site map identifies key information such as the location of irrigation hardware (meters, valves, controllers, emission devices, etc.), coverage area (square feet) for each valve or zone, and the type of plants (water demand) present in these zones. 
  • Hardware inventory -- A hardware inventory will ensure that you know the makes and models of irrigation components in your system.  One common mistake that undermines the performance of irrigation systems is using mismatched components.
  • Water budget -- In a way, having a water budget is similar to knowing the fuel-efficiency rating of a vehicle.  If you know how far your car is supposed to go on a gallon of gas (say, 30 miles), you can compare it to the vehicle’s actual performance.  This can help keep your vehicle in top operating condition and spot potential problems before they become major.  Similarly, knowing the water budget for a specific landscape area (20,000 gallons per year, for example) will give you a metric for monitoring actual water use.  Deviations from the budget may signal irrigation management issues or point to needed repairs such as a leak or broken sprinkler.
  • Landscape team -- Rule-of-thumb irrigation is not good enough.  It may keep the grass green, but chances are you will use too much water and spend too much money.  Skilled landscape professionals will know how to properly program irrigation controllers to stay within an allotted water budget.  They will keep written records of how irrigation controllers are programmed and diagnose repairs or upgrades that will improve irrigation efficiency.
How can I conserve water in my organization?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers “Using Water Efficiently: Ideas for Commercial Businesses”.  Even though it lists ways that businesses can conserve water, many of the tips are applicable to the public sector.

Can my site participate in incentives if it receives recycled water?

Typically not. Conservation incentives are designed to reduce the amount of potable water used. If you are using “purple pipe” water, you already are a conservation leader. Thank you for doing your part.

If our site receives a landscape audit, are we required to implement the recommendations?

No. Your site will receive written observations, recommendations and -- if applicable -- test results from a certified irrigation specialist. Your agency can choose what to do and when. There’s no obligation.

If my business does not have an outdoor water conservation plan in place, where should we begin?

The saying goes, “An ounce of planning is worth a pound of cure.”  One of the keys to managing urban landscapes sustainably is good planning.  Below are a few suggestions for getting organized:

  • Site map -- For landscape irrigation purposes, a site map identifies key information such as the location of irrigation hardware (meters, valves, controllers, emission devices, etc.), coverage area (square feet) for each valve or zone, and the type of plants (water demand) present in these zones. 
  • Hardware inventory -- A hardware inventory will ensure that you know the makes and models of irrigation components in your system.  One common mistake that undermines the performance of irrigation systems is using mismatched components.
  • Water budget -- In a way, having a water budget is similar to knowing the fuel-efficiency rating of a vehicle.  If you know how far your car is supposed to go on a gallon of gas (say, 30 miles), you can compare it to the vehicle’s actual performance.  This can help keep your vehicle in top operating condition and spot potential problems before they become major.  Similarly, knowing the water budget for a specific landscape area (20,000 gallons per year, for example) will give you a metric for monitoring actual water use.  Deviations from the budget may signal irrigation management issues or point to needed repairs such as a leak or broken sprinkler.
  • Landscape team -- Rule-of-thumb irrigation is not good enough.  It may keep the grass green, but chances are you will use too much water and spend too much money.  Skilled landscape professionals will know how to properly program irrigation controllers to stay within an allotted water budget.  They will keep written records of how irrigation controllers are programmed and diagnose repairs or upgrades that will improve irrigation efficiency.