The board of the San Diego County Water Authority, the water wholesaler that supplies the majority of the county’s supply, agreed yesterday to lobby for statewide legislation to require CalTrans to use reclaimed water for irrigation — a requirement already in place for other state agencies.

Reclaimed water is highly treated sewage that’s not clean enough for human consumption. CalTrans currently uses drinking water to keep green most of its landscaping in San Diego County. About 2,730 of the 3,300 acres CalTrans irrigates use drinking water. It uses about 1 percent of the city’s drinking water supply — 635 million gallons — to do what Mother Nature can’t.

I talked to the authority about its reasoning earlier this week:

“This is attempting to close a loophole to bring CalTrans into the fold of state agencies required to get off potable and on to recycled,” said Dennis Cushman, the water authority’s assistant general manager. “Where reclaimed water is available for use for a user such as CalTrans, to use potable water is clearly not the best use of that resource.”

I’m still keeping an eye on CalTrans’ inefficient water use. If you ever see the road shoulders being irrigated during rainstorms, please e-mail me at


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