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Metro Vancouver water restrictions in effect; how does San Diego manage them year-round?

(iStock Photo)

San Diego city staff tries to encourage people to do the right thing, but will crack down on repeat offenders

SAN DIEGO (NEWS 1130) – Metro Vancouver is officially under Stage 1 water restrictions as of yesterday.

We’re not the only place with limitations on when and how you use your H2O; being in a natural desert environment, San Diego deals with year-round water limitations. But it’s not as if the city is a police state.

“We do have fines for repeat offenders, but that’s really only if people are not addressing problems that need to be addressed. Really, the first step is issuing warnings and really trying to get the problem corrected,” says City Councillor Mark Kersey.

City staff there will follow up after finding a first violation or getting a complaint, but they’ll also offer advice.

“We offer free residential and commercial water surveys. People from the city’s water department will actually come out to test your toilets and make sure they’re not leaking, make sure you don’t have any pipes or irrigation systems that are leaking, [and] make sure you’ve got appliances that are as energy-efficient as they can be.”

Kersey says the first goal is always “trying to encourage residents to do the right thing.”┬áBut when people don’t heed their advice, the city does take repeat violators seriously.

“We’ve got an app called ‘Waste No Water,’ where residents can report waste that they’re seeing. And not just neighbours. So, if they see that our transportation department is watering the median alongside the freeway at times when they shouldn’t be or if there’s a busted sprinkler that is leaking everywhere, [they can use the app]. We really just try and empower people to report that need to be corrected,” says Kersey.

San Diego also offers rain capture irrigation systems and even education about which native plants consume less water.

Kersey prefers to see the good in people. “Most people want to do the right thing. They just don’t always know how to.”