RIVERSIDE – Roughly two out of three Inland Empire residents are under the mistaken impression that most water waste occurs indoors, spotlighting the need for greater awareness of how water is used, a spokesman for a coalition of water agencies said today.
”Most residential water consumption and most residential water waste occurs outside as a result of excessive watering of lawns, broken sprinkler heads and faulty or improperly set irrigation timers,” said Bob Tincher, manager of water resources for the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District.
”We need to shift our focus and let people know where most of their water waste is occurring. Even little things like changing to efficient sprinkler heads and weather-based irrigation timers can produce significant savings, while reducing water waste.”
The San Bernardino Valley Water District has joined Riverside Public Utilities, the City of Corona, the Moreno Valley-based Western Municipal Water District and nearly a dozen other agencies for a campaign that officials hope will encourage residents and businesses in the region to be more ”water- wise.”
The iEfficient campaign will be officially unveiled at the Inland Empire 66ers minor league baseball game on July 22, at 7 p.m. at San Manuel Stadium, 280 South E St. in San Bernardino. More information is available at www.iEfficient.com .
The coalition recently commissioned a survey to gauge inland residents’ perception of the statewide drought and what measures might be most effective in curbing water waste. According to the survey findings, 70 percent of the 400 respondents believed indoor water consumption far exceeded outdoor use.
But Tincher said nearly three-quarters of consumption occurs outside the home for landscaping and lawn care.
”We have promoted indoor water conservation and our customers have done a great job,” he said. ”Now we are asking them to focus their attention outside. Focusing our attention at outdoor water use will allow inland Southern California water agencies to achieve the levels of water conservation we need in this water crisis.”
On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board approved an ”emergency regulation” intended to reduce outdoor water use, primarily in urban areas.
The regulation mandates that California residents stop washing down driveways and sidewalks, stop any type of outdoor watering that results in ”excess runoff”; use a hose with a shut-off nozzle when washing vehicles and use only recycled or re-circulated water in decorative fountains.
State officials directed local water agencies to institute conservation measures that include $500 fines for water consumers who don’t comply with the emergency regulation.
”This drought’s impacts are being felt by communities all over California,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus. ”The least that urban Californians can do is not waste water on outdoor uses. It is in their self-interest to conserve more now to avoid far more harsh restrictions, if the drought lasts into the future.”
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency in response to pervasive dry conditions and consecutive winters with precipitation and snowpacks well below normal.
The California Department of Water Resources was forced to severely curtail distributions from the State Water Project, a network of reservoirs, streams, aquifers and wells that help meet the supply needs of 25 million Californians.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California received only 5 percent of the allocation it was seeking this year from the project. The MWD is a wholesaler to water agencies throughout the region.
According to officials, water tables are stretched to the limit. Lake Perris’ water level is at half its historic average.
The current drought has been compared to conditions in 1977, when 47 of the state’s 58 counties declared local drought emergencies.