Astute Voice readers know about the federal court ruling imposing severe restrictions on pumps along the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. If and when final, this ruling could result in cutbacks in water shipments to Southern California of 30 to 50 percent.

Since San Diego imports close to 90 percent of its water, this could have devastating consequences for all of us. Combine the ruling with an unusually dry year and we’re looking at the prospect of mandatory water rationing, something quite unfamiliar to San Diegans.

San Diegans have a great track record for using water efficiently. We have all learned to take shorter showers and turn off the water while brushing our teeth. When we’ve been ask to curtail our water use in the face of potential drought, San Diegans have responded to the call.

Since the last drought scare in the early 2000s, the need to conserve has not been so urgent. I’ll admit to not paying much attention to my own water on our relatively large piece of property, and we use a proportionately large amount of water. The threat of mandatory water rationing was a huge wake up call for me. Our family recently discussed tightening our indoor water habits, and I have also requested a water audit to identify ways to save water outdoors. I think other families around the county will be doing the same.

The city’s water department offers a free residential water survey to help you find ways to cut back on your water use indoors and outdoors. Their website is full of tips for saving water, including a landscape water calculator based on your zip code and type of yard.

Given the seriousness of the looming water shortage, conservation is only one piece of the puzzle. We must find ways to reduce our dependence on imported water, and find ways to generate fresh water within the county, like finding ways to increase our use of recycled water. We no longer have the luxury of using the “yuck” factor to oppose this scientifically sound proposal. Recycled water is clean, safe, and is being used in other cities around the state and country, including Irvine and Denver. You can read the results of the city’s water reuse study here.

We must take control of our own water future, before it is imposed on us from the outside.

— SCOTT PETERS

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