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So much (for now) for San Diego’s plan to cut residents’ water consumption based on their historic use. Jim Barrett, the city’s public utilities director, said in a memo that the plan won’t be needed for July 1 implementation.

San Diego is expected to receive a 6-7 percent cut from the San Diego County Water Authority, the wholesaler that provides most of the city’s water. The city had been preparing for a cut as high as 20 percent.

Instead of giving residents a ceiling for their water use and penalizing them if they exceed it, Barrett said that implementing (and enforcing) restrictions such as limiting lawn watering to three days a week (June-October) will be enough. Those steps, which would likely happen by specifying lawn-watering days, would also include limiting lawn watering to 10 minutes a day and prohibiting ornamental fountains from operating.

If residents don’t conserve enough, the city would then implement its cuts plan, Barrett said in the memo.

The challenge the city will face will be in enforcing the restrictions (they would have to catch someone watering for too long or on the wrong day). But if residents save as much as they have been — citywide consumption dropped 5 percent last year — the city would not have to reach many more people to hit the target.

Or they could just cut off CalTrans’ roadside irrigation. CalTrans uses 1 percent of all the water consumed in the city to irrigate road shoulders and highway landscaping.

ROB DAVIS

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