Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009 | Scott Peters has left the San Diego City Council, taking with him the dubious honor of being the council’s highest water user.
The turnover on council now puts Councilman Carl DeMaio as the heaviest water consumer among the city’s elected officials, according to Water Department records, though DeMaio’s annual use is nowhere near the 1 million gallons that Peters consumed at his La Jolla home in 2007.
DeMaio used 160,072 gallons at his Rancho Bernardo home in 2008. The average household uses 125,664 gallons — 21 percent less than DeMaio. His use increased 10 percent comparing the second half of 2008 with the same time a year earlier — a period when the call for water conservation had just begun.
City officials’ water use otherwise declined in 2008 as the region faced repeated calls for conservation. Mayor Jerry Sanders used 25 percent less than he did in 2007. Council President Ben Hueso was on pace to use 26 percent less. Councilman Kevin Faulconer was on track to use 17 percent less. (Their consumption for all of December was not yet available; the city provided water use through mid-December.)
With the coming year promising to bring the tightest supplies San Diego has seen since the early 1990s, residents could learn a lesson from their elected officials. The region has repeatedly been urged to cut consumption 10 percent. City residents didn’t in 2008, using just 5.5 percent less through November.
This year will be one of the most challenging for San Diego’s water supply. The Colorado River, suffering from years of drought, will provide less than it has historically. So will the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, as a result of new regulations to protect endangered fish. City officials expect that San Diego’s water suppliers may cut deliveries by 20 percent, a step that would require residents to save water or face severe financial penalties.