The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors is scheduled to consider this afternoon a staff recommendation to make voluntary water use restrictions mandatory.
The suggested change was prompted by deepening drought conditions and new directives by the state government, according to the water authority. The CWA directors are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. at the agency headquarters in Kearny Mesa.
The CWA says stronger conservation measures would help San Diego County keep as much water as possible in storage for next year and comply with emergency water conservation mandates approved last week by the state Water Resources Control Board.
"Regional investments and a demonstrated commitment to conservation have buffered San Diego County from the worst effects of the drought so far, but we believe the right thing to do now is to move to mandatory water conservation measures," said Maureen Stapleton, the agency's general manager.
"We don't know how long this drought will last -- and the unusually hot and dry conditions have made it more challenging to save water with voluntary efforts."
The water authority does not expect cutbacks in imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks by member agencies. Reductions could happen next year if conditions don't improve, water officials said.
If the conservation measures become mandatory, the requirements would include:
-- watering only at certain days and times;
-- eliminating runoff from irrigation systems;
-- repairing leaks within 72 hours;
-- turning off water features unless they use recycled water;
-- using hoses with shut-off valves for washing cars, or patronizing commercial car washes that re-circulate water;
 -- serving water to restaurant patrons only on request;
 -- offering hotel guests the option of not laundering towels and linens daily; and
 -- using recycled or non-potable water for construction when available.
The new state restrictions follow reports that levels at reservoirs throughout California are continuing to drop.