San Diegans are looking for ways to turn down their taps as the region continues to endure a drought that seems to have no end in sight.
Demand is up for water conservation tips, classes and rebates, according to local water agencies and environmental groups. Although water use was up for the first five months of this year compared with 2013, officials hope the uptick in awareness is the first step toward increased water savings.
“Whenever you have a drought, it ends up being a period of sea change,” said Jason Foster, director of public outreach and conservation for the San Diego County Water Authority.
While a severe drought in the 1990s ushered in long-lasting changes in indoor water use, Foster said the most recent dry years have pushed San Diegans to revisit the way they water their yards and lawns.
“Retrofitting a landscape is not as easy as … installing a high-efficiency toilet, but there are lots of things you can do to demystify that and help achieve that larger transformation,” he said.
That process got off to a rocky start this year. In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of drought — the third such year of low rainfall — and asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent. Through May, however, statewide conservation was nowhere near that level. In San Diego County, consumption was up 10 percent over the same period in 2013.
While Southern California avoided the water shortages that afflicted the state’s northern communities, it has banked on future water supplies. Metropolitan Water District, the region’s wholesale giant, plans to draw down half its reserves this year to avoid cutbacks, said Dana Friehauf, a water resources manager for the water authority.
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