San Diego Real Estate Professionals at eXp Realty

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We’ve been discussing the new Stage 2 Drought Alert that was implemented by the San Diego County Water Authority. The Stage 2 water restrictions went into effect for City of San Diego home owners on June 1, 2009. Similar rules will apply to owners of homes in Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, and Solana Beach on July 1, 2009. These neighborhoods are served by the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID), which has a 6 percent water savings target for this year.

Owners of Rancho Santa Fe estates are expected to have difficult complying with the new water regulations. The average household in Rancho Santa Fe consumes about 500 gallons per day, whereas the average use for other San Diego homes is just 200 gallons per day. This difference is mostly due to the fact that Rancho Santa Fe homes have an average lot size of 3 acres, compared to the average San Diego lot size of about a quarter acre. Differences in household preferences and amenities also play a role.

Lawn irrigation is again the primary target of the new regulations. Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, and Solana Beach home owners may only water three days a week during the summer months (June 1 through October 31). Odd numbered addresses may water on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Even numbered addresses may water on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. The general rule is that automatic sprinkler systems are limited to 10 minutes of water per station, but “smart controllers” and drip irrigation systems are exempt from the 10-minute limit. In the winter months (November 1 through May 31) lawns and landscape may only be watered one day per week. Residential properties may water on Tuesday (even addresses) or Thursday (odd addresses) and commercial properties may only water on Wednesday.

Water waste from improper irrigation (runoff or watering hardscaped surfaces) is prohibited at all times. Hand watering of landscapes is allowed, but only on the days specified above, and only with hoses that have shut-off nozzles. Driveways and patios may only be swept, not sprayed clean, unless there is a specific health or safety reason for using water to clean these surfaces. Leaks must be repaired within 72 hours after the home owner has notice of the leak. And lastly, ornamental fountains and decorative water features must be shut off completely at all times, unless recycled water is used for this purpose.

Watering of livestock is not prohibited, so please don’t neglect to water your horses and other domesticated animals!

The SFID is promising to be particularly understanding and lenient about enforcing these rules. District Manager Michael Bardin is quoted in the Del Mar Times as saying: “We don’t just want to tell people what they can’t do.” Mr. Bardin also said “To someone who has a large estate lot… You can’t just tell them ‘no watering…. The thing is to make sure you’re as water efficient as possible.”

Violators will receive a letter of warning from the SFID upon the first violation. There is a $100 fine for the second violation, $200 fine for the third violation, and $500 fine for each additional violation. Community workshops are planned to educate and assist Rancho Santa Fe home owners with water reduction and compliance. For example, drip irrigation workshops are scheduled for Saturday June 20 at the Oceanside Campus of Mira Costa College and Saturday July 11 at the San Elijo Campus. The registration fee is $50.

3 Responses

  1. The restrictions seem reasonable and necessary. Providing the guidelines is very helpful. But can I wash my car? Or should I take it to the car wash where they will use more water than I will use washing it at home? Probably with toxic detergents. There are always complications with these government regulations.

    1. Thanks for your post. The past few years of drought conditions have made water restrictions the only reasonable alternative for most communities in the southwest. Raising water rates was an alternative, but not a sustainable alternative. Private car washing is still allowed in the driveways of San Diego homes, but only between the hours of 6pm and 10am, and only using a bucket of detergent and hose with a shut-off valve.
      Commercial car washes are required to re-claim and re-use water, so the commercial operations should actually be more water-efficient… though possibly not as cost-efficient. The commercial washes are also highly regulated to prevent toxic runoff. There is a much less efficient system in place for monitoring runoff from private residences.
      No one likes water restrictions, but the restrictions seem to be the most responsible policy at this time. Fortunately the forecasters are predicting that in the coming year we’ll have “El Nino” conditions, which usually brings unusually large amounts of rain to Southern California. So we’ll definitely be hoping and praying for rain here in San Diego!

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