City Fails to Meet Water Conservation Targets

Two-thirds of San Diego County’s water districts, including the city of San Diego, failed to achieve their conservation goals in November, according to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Jan. 5 report.

The city of San Diego’s water savings, which is calculated by comparing the water usage of a particular month to that of two years prior, reached 13.8 percent in November. This, unlike its October savings of 16.7 percent, falls under the state-mandated goal of 16 percent.

Furthermore, California as a whole failed to reach its water conservation goal of 25 percent in November for the second straight month. The state’s savings in November hit just 20.3 percent, which is down from 22.3 percent in October.

Though A.S. Associate Vice President of Environmental Affairs Moon Pankam expressed discontent with the numbers, she stated that the report only further necessitates more action and awareness.

“It’s a disappointing result, but all the more reason to continue to encourage people to be more mindful of the impact that their everyday practices have on the environment,” Pankam told the UCSD Guardian. “Be mindful of how long your showers are. Be mindful of the water that can be saved if the faucet is turned off during shaving and brushing one’s teeth, rather than on. Be mindful of any hidden leaks around the house, whether in your pipes, your faucets or your toilets. Be mindful of the world we live in.”

The Chairwoman of the Control Board Felicia Marcus defended these below-target marks by pointing out that during this time of year, temperatures are higher and people tend to irrigate their plants less, leaving them with fewer methods of saving water.

“We anticipated a dip in the conservation rate for October, but it is not because people are losing interest — they actually did quite well considering how unusually hot it was in October,” Marcus said in a Dec. 1 press release. “It’s harder to keep the percentages up in the fall and winter when little outdoor watering takes place.”

Cumulatively, since June, both California and San Diego have exceeded their conservation goals, with savings of 26.3 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively. Moreover, the average California resident’s water use fell from 83 gallons per day to a record low 75 gallons per day, which Marcus thinks indicates that the state has made progress overall.

“The fact that per-person water use dropped to 75 gallons per person per day on average is proof that Californians are clearly thinking twice before turning on the tap,” Marcus said in the Jan. 5 press release.

Marcus also cautioned that it may be too soon to read into the conservation numbers.

“As welcome as recent rain and snow are, we’ve been in such a deep drought that we won’t know until spring whether we can let up on conservation,” Marcus said.

In terms of how much progress UCSD has made in its own water conservation efforts, Pankam thinks it has done well overall but could work harder to inform students about the issue and what they can do to contribute.

“The university can continue its practices of drought-resistant landscaping; using reclaimed water for irrigation; and installing and maintaining efficient, low-flow water fixtures in facilities and student residences,” Pankam said. “The university can also make more concentrated and targeted efforts to educate students about water conservation on and off campus during events like freshman and transfer orientation.”

Pankam disclosed that her office is currently planning to host several educational workshops and events regarding water conservation through the end of the school year.