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South County: Leading the region's water conservation efforts

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Although summer is coming to an end, the need for water conservation is not. In June, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statewide drought proclamation. With pumping restrictions in Northern California reducing local supply, mandatory water conservation in 2009 is increasingly likely.

The South County has long been a leader in conservation, and it's important to recognize that we can't stop now. The Otay Water District (OWD) will continue to be active to help the region's conservation efforts. Here are a few examples of ways we have been helping to make a difference.

Recycled water: For more than four decades, the OWD has been passionate about water recycling. One of the most effective and successful ways to create a new, drought-proof supply of reliable water is to reuse wastewater. By using this water for landscape irrigation, which accounts for 60 percent of the region's water use, we are meeting this demand in an innovative and environmentally sustainable way.

OWD currently has the most "purple pipe" (recycled water pipes) of any water agency in San Diego County, and last fiscal year we delivered nearly 1.5 billion gallons of recycled water to irrigation customers. We believe a gallon of recycled water used is a gallon of potable water saved. Incentive programs: OWD offers a host of incentive programs for residential, business and institutional customers to install water efficient devices or products. Incentives are available for replacing toilets, high water use landscapes, or upgrading irrigation systems. Go to www.otaywater.gov and click on "conservation" for a list of incentives.

20-Gallon Challenge: We're also working with the San Diego County Water Authority to promote the 20-Gallon Challenge. The 20-Gallon Challenge is a call for residents and businesses to reduce our region's water use on average by 20 gallons per person, per day.

These are just a few examples of how OWD is participating in conservation efforts. We control our own future in regards to our water supply, and conservation is the answer.

As summer ends, OWD will continue to conserve and encourage residents and businesses alike to do so as well. All residential customers and businesses can immediately do this by reducing the frequency and duration of irrigation as we move from summer to fall. Keep in mind you can generally reduce outdoor irrigation by about 10 percent each month until the winter rains arrive.

If you'd like to add to your existing conservation efforts (remember every drop counts!), please take the 20-Gallon Challenge or visit www.otaywater.gov for more ways to conserve and incentives to save water.

The Otay Water District was founded in 1956 to serve as a public water utility. The district distributes water to more than 191,500 ratepayers in southeastern San Diego County including the communities of Jamul, La Presa, Rancho San Diego, Spring Valley, eastern Chula Vista and Otay Mesa.

Submitted by the Otay Water District

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