After getting through July and August, it so far appears unlikely that local water agencies will be penalized for using too much water.

With one exception, figures from the San Diego County Water Authority show local water districts are well beneath the water-delivery limits the authority set beginning July 1.

The authority established individual targets for the 24 local water districts it serves, requiring them to use 8 percent less water this year than they did between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2007. That has led to irrigation restrictions through the county, as agencies try to avoid facing fines. So far, they’ve been way under, said Dave Fogerson, the authority’s senior engineer.

Combined, the agencies were 28 percent under target in July and August. They were allowed to use 44.7 billion gallons. So far, they’ve used 32.2 billion gallons.

Fogerson attributed the drop to consumer response and the recession.

The only agency that hasn’t met its targets: The South Coast Water District, an Orange County-based agency that serves three large customers in San Diego County. For those customers, it’s 13 percent over its limit. Those include the San Onofre nuclear plant, housing on Camp Pendleton and San Onofre State Beach.

That district wouldn’t face financial penalties unless the water authority exceeds its annual limit, set by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District.

ROB DAVIS

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