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Recently, I received a call from voiceofsandiego.org inquiring about my water use. They were prompted to ask me after reviewing public documents, which marked an increase in my residential water use.

While caught by surprise, I appreciate VOSD’s investigative reporting as it prompted me to evaluate my water use. The reason the inquiry was a surprise was because my family and I have been working to conserve water around our house — in the past year, we have reduced our water use by 23% (VOSD reported a 45% increase from 2006-2009). I took an analytical look at my water use and realized a couple questionable spikes.

I proceeded to have a residential survey performed at my residence — a free service to water users. A trained expert came out and surveyed the water pressure, potential leaks, and gave me suggestions on how to more efficiently use water. Through the survey, I learned that I have a faulty pressure regulator that had caused toilet leak. These leaks can be hard to spot and can waste thousands of gallons of water if left unnoticed. It took no more than a few days to almost triple my monthly water usage.

Earlier this year, we replaced some of the plants in my yard with water-wise landscaping. While water-wise, these drought-tolerant plants still require extra watering to get established. This may have contributed to my higher than normal water use in spring this year. Through the survey, we learned that a good rule of thumb is to plant water-wise landscaping late in the year. By waiting until fall, the cooler temperatures minimize water lost to evaporation, and the rains of winter and early spring help plants become established naturally.

The new changes around our house are expected to lower our water usage significantly. This recent situation illustrates how small efforts around the house can make a real difference. Just as my family and I did, we encourage residents to take advantage of all the conservation programs, rebates and incentives that water agencies offer — including free residential water surveys. The Otay Water District even has a program called “Cash for Water-Wise Plants”, which gives financial assistance to homeowners for replacing thirsty lawns and landscaping with water-wise plants.

I appreciate Voice of San Diego’s investigative report; it prompted my family to analyze our water use, which led to water (and money) saving modifications.

Jose Lopez is member of the Otay Water District Board of Directors.

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