Santa Fe district customers in Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach slash water use by 42 percent in May


Customers of the Santa Fe Irrigation District cut their water use by 42 percent in May, and initial figures show they are on track to reach a target of 36 percent cuts for June, district officials said.

“We want to thank our customers for working hard to do their part during this unprecedented drought,” said district General Manager Michael Bardin in a prepared statement. “We are really proud of the way customers are responding in such a dramatic way to our outreach and water conservation programs.”

In May, the district’s board of directors imposed water “allocations,” or rationing, for the first time in the district’s 92-year history. Directors also voted to impose penalties for those who use more than their bimonthly water allocation, and to increase fines for violations of water-use regulations.

The actions came in response to an April 1 order by Gov. Jerry Brown for California residents to cut their water use by 25 percent, because of the ongoing state drought, now in its fourth year.

The Santa Fe district serves Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Fairbanks Ranch.

The state released official figures for May on July 1, and they show that the Santa Fe district, with its 42 percent reduction, is not alone. Statewide, residents cut their water use by 28.9 percent in comparison with the same month in 2013, while city of San Diego residents cut back by 26 percent.

Michael Hogan, president of the Santa Fe board, said unofficial figures for June show the district is on track to meet its target of cutting 36 percent from the same month in 2013, the baseline year set by the state. The state water board set reduction targets ranging from 8 to 36 percent for water agencies statewide, designed to reach the governor’s overall reduction goal.

Santa Fe district is in the highest tier because of its high per-capita water use. The state has said it will fine agencies that fail to meet their targets by up to $10,000 per day.

The reduction in water use by Santa Fe district customers is a welcome development for district officials. As recently as May, they were concerned that, despite mandatory water use restrictions in place since last fall, usage had actually increased in six of the previous eight months.

Rainfall in May probably contributed to that month’s 42 percent reduction, said Hogan, “but the number is so big … a large portion of that is attributable to people taking prudent actions and implementing restrictions put in place by the district.”

June was a drier month, Hogan said, but the district is still seeing significant drops in water use.

“It takes time to turn the ship. What we’re starting to see is, people are responding,” Hogan said.