A street view in Rancho Santa Fe. Photo by Tuxyso via Wikimedia Commons
A street view in Rancho Santa Fe. Photo by Tuxyso via Wikimedia Commons

Updated at 3:39 p.m. June 2, 2015 

Rancho Santa Fe residents, criticized for using large amounts of water despite the record drought, used 9 percent more in April compared to the 2013 baseline, according to new state data released Tuesday.

The Santa Fe Irrigation District serving exclusive Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach, and the City of Escondido with a 20 percent increase, were the only two districts in San Diego County that reported more water use.

Figures released by the California Water Resources Control Board showed that the Rancho Santa Fe district delivered 426.6 gallons of water per person, per day. Only one other district in the state — Casistas Municipal Water District in Ventura County — came close to such high usage.

By comparison, customers in San Diego used 66.0 gallons per day and Los Angeles residents 75.2 gallons.

Last month, the state ordered SFID customers to cut back their use 36 percent from 2013 totals, and the front page of the agency’s website includes calls for conservation.

“Though many of our customers have cut water use, overall, our water use in our community rose in April rather than fell,” said the district’s Jessica Parks. “The Santa Fe Irrigation District Board of Directors recognizes that we need an aggressive program to drive water usage down.”

She said they are “actively reaching out” to the community to get them to reduce their water consumption.

The only other water use increase recorded in April in the region was the city of Escondido, which climbed 20 percent.

Conservation efforts in San Diego County in April were led by the San Dieguito Water District in Encinitas, which reduced water deliveries by 24 percent. Other declines in April, according to the state data:

  • Lakeside Water District — 15 percent
  • City of Poway — 13 percent
  • California-American Water Company San Diego District, Vallecitos Water District and Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District — 12 percent
  • Padre Dam Water District in Santee — 11 percent
  • Carlsbad Municipal Water District — 10 percent
  • City of Oceanside and Valley Center Municipal Water District — 9 percent
  • Helix Water District and Ramona Municipal Water District — 8 percent
  • Fallbrook Public Utility District — 7 percent
  • Otay Water District — 6 percent
  • Rainbow Municipal Water District — 5 percent
  • City of San Diego and Vista Irrigation District — 4 percent
  • Olivenhain Municipal Water District — 2 percent

Overall, water use in California was down 13.5 percent in April, an improvement but well short of Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 25 percent decrease.

“We hope the improved conservation rate for April shows that residents and businesses stepped up to begin to meet the call for greater conservation in the face of this historic and ongoing drought,” said State Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus.

“While these results are a step in the right direction, there are still too many lush landscapes where irrigation must be reduced to meet the 25 percent statewide reduction mandate,” Marcus said. “We see conservation gains in all regions of the state, but we don’t know whether it was because of cooler weather or concerted action.”

She said “the real test” will be whether residents can keep their sprinklers off in the upcoming hot and dry summer months.

In Rancho Santa Fe, the SFID approved a series of conservation steps at a meeting last month, including imposing mandatory water allocations with cost penalties for excessive use that could result in quadrupling of water charges for those that don’t comply, Parks said.

She said flagrant violators could face having flow-restrictors installed or having their water service shut off.

— City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein

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