By Phil Trubey
July 9, 2022
At the July RSFA Board meeting, our water district, the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) gave a presentation to inform us of the current drought conditions.
The Association made a good recording of the presentation and I recommend listening to it.
In a nutshell, we are in the third year of a drought. Our main source of imported water, the Colorado River, is very low. Locally, we had a very dry recent winter. Our shared reservoir, Lake Hodges, is undergoing maintenance (more on that later) and also has low water levels.
So the SFID Board has instituted level 2 water restrictions, which aren’t major, but it would behoove all of us to follow these common sense water saving steps:
- Irrigate only before 10am or after 6pm to minimize water evaporation.
- Minimize, or eliminate irrigated water runoff onto hardscape.
You may remember several years ago when we had much more restrictive water rationing. Hopefully we won’t hit that level again, but it all depends on the weather.
Turf Replacement Programs
Turf grass is one of the most thirsty landscape elements you can have. Various agencies have turf replacement programs that can rebate you $2 to $4 per square foot of replaced grass. There are many restrictions and requirements however, so it isn’t likely to save money immediately, but it will save on water costs. Link to the SoCal Water Smart Turf Replacement program.
Lake Hodges and Local Water
SFID is fortunate to have inexpensive local water from Lake Hodges (50% shared with the city of San Diego). However the dam is 104 years old, and three years ago, the state mandated the dam only be used at a fraction of its capacity. Earlier this year, a fissure was discovered and emergency repairs are underway to shore it up, but at some point in the future, either major repairs will be needed, or the dam replaced completely.
Other local water sources include a new Carlsbad desalination plant, which currently supplies about 10% of SFID water. But that water is expensive. Local water (meaning Lake Hodges) costs about $200/acre ft, imported water (Colorado River) is $1,500/acre ft, and desalination water is $3,000/acre ft. So while desalination might appear to be one way out of our water crisis, our rates would explode if we had to rely on it exclusively.
The bottom line is that we all should take a little time to think about water conservation. And for those who want to learn more, that SFID presentation linked above is very informative.