Lawn sprinklers
Sprinklers watering a Southern California lawn. Courtesy Metropolitan Water District

The San Diego County Water Authority is preparing to ask residents to voluntarily conserve up to 10% of their water in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a statewide drought emergency.

The action, which requires a formal vote by the authority’s 36 member-agency directors at their Oct. 28 meeting, comes despite adequate local supplies as a record drought grips much of California.

“This is an all-hands moment,” said General Manager Sandra L. Kerl . “We are fully supportive of the governor’s efforts and fully engaged in helping residents and businesses do their part each and every day.”

On Tuesday, Newsom extended his drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state and asked the State Water Board to ban wasteful water practices such as using potable water for washing driveways and sidewalks.

In addition, the governor directed water suppliers to implement their water shortage contingency plans, which are responsive to local supply and demand conditions.

While the San Diego region isn’t currently facing supply reductions, Kerl said the recommendation to go to voluntary conservation — the first level in the authority’s contingency plan — sends a signal that public effort is necessary, and it gives water agencies flexibility to address local conditions.

The first level in the plan is voluntary conservation of up to 10% of water use. The next level, if it is reached, is mandatory conservation of up to 20%.

“While we are hopeful that a wet winter will take the edge off this current drought, we need to recognize that may not be the case,” Kerl said. “The entire American West is facing hot and dry conditions not seen in our lifetimes, and the realities of climate change mean we need to prepare for this as the new normal.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.