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At a noon meeting today, February 13, the board of the San Diego County Water Authority adopted its staff recommendation to call upon residents to step up water-conservation efforts.

The water authority's long-term plan has four levels of restrictions. Today, the authority only adopted the first level, calling for voluntary measures. Among them are: repairing leaks quickly; washing paved surfaces only when necessary for health and safety; irrigating only before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.; using hoses with automatic shut-off valves for car washing; serving and refilling water at restaurants only on request, and offering hotel guests the option of not laundering their linens and towels daily.

The more severe levels were not adopted. Level 2 would limit irrigation and lawn watering and stop operating ornamental fountains. Level 3 would restrict water landscaping and irrigation more severely, and prohibiting vehicle washing except at car washes that recirculate water. Level 4 would prohibit landscape irrigation, except for crops and nurseries, and restrict existing landscaping and plant maintenance.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the drought a state of emergency. The San Diego authority says it will have adequate water this year because it will take some Colorado River water from storage.

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spudboy Feb. 14, 2014 @ 9:42 a.m.

Well I got rid of my stupid lawn and went xeriscape.

I did my part but I am sure my water bill won't go down.

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 12:49 p.m.

spudboy: Congratulations to you: desertscaping is critical in Southern California and other parts of the West. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 1:41 p.m.

The SD Water Board wants to maximize it income and THEN it will seek yet another raise in rates because water is getting so very scarce... We are being played yet again...

California and especially SoCal should be building either floating and/or land based desalinization plants ASAP because the Pacific Ocean is an unlimited source of drinking water for all of us.

Face it, potable water will become the new Oil if those that control its sale have anything to do about it...

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 3:17 p.m.

Founder: Certainly, San Diego needs more water alternatives. It gets 85% of its water via import. There could be problems with the Imperial deal. The authority needs new ideas. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 4:30 p.m.

I believe that the current delivery system is designed to fail so that they can increase the cost of water, especially to residential end users!

Has anyone else noticed that in the future those using the most water will have their bill per unit of water go down while residents will see their bills go way up?

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 6:56 p.m.

Founder: Large users such as companies have gotten water bill breaks, while smaller customers pick up the tab. Donna Frye raised the roof about this several years ago when she was on the council. I thought it had been taken care of. Apparently not. More corporate welfare. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:31 a.m.

Water prices have been going up for a while and our Leaders simply tell us to do with less instead of being proactive and making sure we have a greater supply. I think it is criminal that we are continually told that our population is growing (because the City is pushing DENSITY upon us) but they are doing ZERO to provide basic services for this growth, which means that the unmentioned real plan is that SD will become an ever more expensive place to live, work and retire.

From July 2010 http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 1:41 p.m.

Founder: San Diego already has a very high cost of living compared with most cities. Best, Don Bauder

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Wabbitsd Feb. 14, 2014 @ 6:41 p.m.

I think it's interesting to look at the overall costs...what costs more, "Water" or the salaries and benefits for employees?

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 6:57 p.m.

Wabbitsd: Agreed. That would be interesting to see that breakdown. I don't know if the county's various water providers break out that information. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2014 @ 6:59 p.m.

San Diego Highwayman: Be prepared for even higher bills. Jacking up rates is one way to hold usage down. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 15, 2014 @ 3:52 a.m.

Don, you are the best journalist in San Diego at defining the gravest risks we are experiencing today.

We must find better ways to solve problems of global warming and inequality, better ways for people to participate in producing solutions that can be implemented ASAP because, as you know far better than I, time is running out for our civilization.

We must protect the earth and democracy for future generations.

Thanks Don.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 8:26 a.m.

Anon92107: The problem we face in addressing the very real problems you mention is greed. Addressing climate change threat requires less use of conveniences such as automobiles. Or maybe less consumption of beef. Such moves will make people unhappy and make economies sag.

Addressing income and wealth inequality will empty the pockets of politicians, who now rely on the top 1% for money. Also, the lobbyists for the large corporations actually write legislation, permitting the solons to pursue other activities, mostly anti-social ones. We need higher taxes on the rich, higher Social Security and Medicare payments by those with fatter incomes, transaction taxes on securities trades (even though some business will go offshore), and many other moves, or our middle class will continue to disappear, shattering our economy.

Battling the water problem will also bring higher taxes and water bills and sacrifices by the general citizenry and particularly by corporations and the superrich.

Can our society tackle these problems? Perhaps slowly -- far too slowly. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:31 a.m.

"Can our society tackle these problems? Perhaps slowly -- far too slowly."

That is the fact of life we have allowed ourselves to live with today, especially the "far too slowly" part because of the destructive power of money that is destroying American Democracy today. All of our establishments are failing to protect our civilization from Us.

Our brains have simply not evolved nearly enough to separate us from chimpanzees in order to save ourselves from all the problems you have documented over the decades.

Things keep getting worse, not better, it appears that the last half of the 20th century following WWII gave us our best opportunities to build a better world and we have responded with more wars and hate, out of control global warming and inequality.

Our religions and universities could have saved us from ourselves, but they have failed due to the basic failure modes of immorality + greed + hate + corruption + Us v. Them.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 1:44 p.m.

Anon92107: Two factors keep us from solving our long-term problems: 1. Greed. 2. The inability of people to think long-term. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Feb. 15, 2014 @ 7:29 a.m.

when/if the rains come and the supply is back to normal, will the cost go down to the rate payers? I doubt it.

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Founder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:18 a.m.

In SD, prices for both energy and water go up like taxes but seldom if ever go down, unless another fee makes up at least the difference if not a greater amount!

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 1:45 p.m.

Founder: And, frankly, those water prices should not come down if we face a drought that will last many years. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 8:31 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Your assumption is probably correct. But there is a very real possibility that this drought will last a number of years. Therefore, water authorities will need all the resources they can get their hands on.

Also, it is unrealistic to think that a rainy March, which may well come, will solve the problem. The Colorado River is in desperate shape. Yes, Northern California has a bigger problem than Southern California, but this is no time to feel complacent. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:42 a.m.

The City raising water prices is no solution, what we need is a regional water generation plan; but that happening is very doubtful because we don't have the Leadership to make that happen.

Let be honest, our Leaders are just fine with us spending billions of dollars more on higher water prices but the idea of using it to construct the desalinization needed to increase our supply, instead of something like a sport stadium, is simply beyond everyones ability...

This is the real water crisis in San Diego and using less water will not correct it...

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 1:47 p.m.

Founder: If given a choice between pro football and water, San Diego leaders would, tragically, take football. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Feb. 15, 2014 @ 1:23 p.m.

I make no effort to conserve water and will continue to use as much water as I want regardless of the cost. I was born here and my wants come first over Midwestern and Eastern transplants who are causing the shortage. When I go to a coin operated laundry to wash my dog's bedding I take a bucket and add 3 gallons of water to both the wash and rinse cycles so the bedding comes out clean. I know the owner of the laundry is stealing from me by reducing the water levels in the machines. The machines spend most of their time spinning and very little time washing or rinsing. I don't feel I should cut my water usage to accommodate some slob from Michigan who came here to bask in the sunshine of poverty with a $12 an hour job working at a microbrewery or bar. If things get bad and there's mandatory rationing, I will buy water and have it trucked in.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 1:50 p.m.

Burwell: You are making an excellent point: even though San Diego County's population is finally growing slowly (less than 1% a year), the rapid in-migration of the 1980s and 1990s could come back to haunt San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 15, 2014 @ 2:48 p.m.

Don, interesting line of thought, San Diego is as populated as it is today because we turned a desert into a mecca with imported water, and we not only forgot about the reality of the desert origin, but we also failed to consider the future in case the inevitable happened, and we have thus started to run out of water.

There are at least three social, political and economic failures in our California culture:

  1. UC Berkeley began fusion experiments during WWII and later hired Edward Teller (Father of the H-Bomb) to found the Berkeley Lab to accelerate that research. In the 60s Teller also promised that we would have fusion generation to take care of all the needs of humanity by the end of the 20th century. Greed by the researchers for easy money by spending their time on simpler research, and the power of money (from BP type research sponsors) that controlled that research has continuously prevented that dream from coming true.

  2. We waste outrageous quantities of water on landscaping (lawns, etc.) that serve no useful purpose except to achieve our lust for conspicuous consumption, while water authorities and politicians are afraid of dealing with that waste for fear of political retribution from the power of money that controls them.

  3. Worst of all, we keep proving the fact of life that our brains are not capable of protecting the long-term future of our civilization from our greed and lusts regardless of destructive consequences for future generations, which shall suffer those consequences in this century.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2014 @ 6:42 p.m.

Anon92107: Reportedly, half of San Diego's water goes on lawns. That is not acceptable. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 16, 2014 @ 4:03 a.m.

Don, Ike's grave warning in his 1961 Farewell Address says it better than anything:

"The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded."

And a 1997 conclusion by Freeman Dyson confirmed what Ike warned: "pure scientists have become more detached from the mundane needs of humanity, and the applied scientists have become more attached to immediate profitability."

So we have no combined fusion generator-desalination plants along the coast to solve our, and the world's water and power problems in 2014.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 7:52 a.m.

Anon92107: That was a great speech: Ike not only warned of the military-industrial complex's dangers; he warned that universities and scientists should not rely upon the federal government for all its funds. We did not heed either of his warnings. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 10:42 a.m.

Don, Sadly, the USA of today is no longer the USA of the 1950's, 60's and 70's; now it is much more like the Rome of old before it collapsed (from within).

In San Diego, MSM only tells US that seeking public glory in the Sports Arena is the most important news story. Any mention of running our City for the benefit for all taxpayers instead of just the well connected few that were responsible for getting these same Leaders elected in the first place, is almost never mentioned except in passing, or as an update about a political decision that has already been made; in short, our elected Leaders have for some time been dancing to their Big Donors fiddling, while turning a blind eye toward what is best for the Public Good.

If San Diego is any indicator of the future of the USA, it will become an ever more expensive place to live which will then affect every facet of life in San Diego, unless you happen to be very Wealthy or already comfortably retired living in your own home.

Said another way, living in San Diego is rapidly becoming like living in Mexico, the rich will continue to party on, while all the rest that have work to feed their families will have an ever harder time trying to make enough money to live here much less get ahead.

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Anon92107 Feb. 16, 2014 @ 11:39 a.m.

Founder, sadly indeed: "USA of today is no longer the USA of the 1950's, 60's and 70's; now it is much more like the Rome of old before it collapsed (from within)."

The attacks against Truth, Morality and our Democracy now are much more like Ancient Athens.

Some of our science, quality of life and toys may seem amazing today, but our failures to improve our thinking and behavior beyond the social psychology during days of Ancient Athens and Imperial Rome still keep most of the population of earth trying to achieve Maslow's lowest (physiological) stage in his hierarchy of needs.

Interestingly though, the Romans tried to plan and build to meet their water needs further into the future than we have, they lasted longer than we have, but they didn't have a democracy.

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Founder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 4:28 p.m.

Anon92107 Yup, I'm sure you also know the feeling of crying Wolf while everybody else has their ear buds plugged in, listening to their own version of "Everything is going to be all right".

I look forward to shaking your hand and listening to what you have to say in person!

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 6:01 p.m.

Founder: It's up to Anon92107 to reveal his identity, if he likes. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 17, 2014 @ 8:09 a.m.

Agreed, no pressure! I was extending an invitation. If interested it could be done via the secure Reader email system and NOT by posting ones email address "in the clear" as part of a blog comment.

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:24 a.m.

Fournder: The Reader email system does offer an excellent way to communicate with privacy. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 6 p.m.

Anon92107: We are sadder, but are we wiser? I don't think so. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:30 a.m.

Anon92107: The Romans did many remarkable things. The empire's collapse is still a lesson for the world. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 5:58 p.m.

Founder: Without question, San Diego is run for the favored few -- basically, the corporate welfare crowd that uses the Lincoln Club as its front group, Look at that recent election: the rich panhandlers are back at the wheel, with a mayor in tow. Best, Don Bauder

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760raptor Feb. 16, 2014 @ 5:09 p.m.

I live in Fallbrook placing me in the Rainbow Water District. Each month we pay about $180.00 in fees before the water is even turned on. Our whole neighborhood is screwed each month before we even use water! Now THAT is an outrage!

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2014 @ 6:03 p.m.

760raptor: You may have to leave Fallbrook. That Klansman did. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 17, 2014 @ 8:16 a.m.

We will see ever more fees in San Diego County which will "tend to keep the riff-raft from living anywhere nearby.

I think of it as a large financial community which is much like a gated community, since if you are wealthy it really does not affect you at all while keeping those that are not wealthy at-bay.

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2014 @ 2:24 p.m.

Founder: One of San Diego's big problems is that the affluent don't give a hoot about higher water fees. They're chump change. However, higher water bills are very difficult for those of lesser means. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 18, 2014 @ 2:42 p.m.

Founder and Don, the two most threatening problems we have in San Diego, America and throughout our entire civilization that must be solved with the greatest sense of urgency are Global Warming (especially including food and water) and Inequality (especially social and economic).

If peoples around the world don't unite and focus on solving our greatest problems ever, then we are in gravest jeopardy in history because time is most rapidly running out now that we have exceeded the totally unacceptable level of 400 ppm atmospheric CO2.

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Don Bauder Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:15 p.m.

Anon92107: I agree that climate change and wealth and income inequality are two of our country's most pressing problems. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 19, 2014 @ 4:18 a.m.

Don: Having agreed to that, it appears that we must make every effort to get our university professors to join together to educate and motivate We The People to save our democracy and environment from politicians and the power of money that controls them.

Or the climate changes (including drought and polar vortex) and inequalities we are currently experiencing shall take more and more survival options completely out of our control.

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Don Bauder Feb. 19, 2014 @ 1:02 p.m.

Anon92107: Agreed: academicians could be more aggressive in educating the public to the dangers we face -- the dangers you cited. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 18, 2014 @ 10:18 p.m.

Don Wood: Recycled water is already used on some golf courses, including Torrey Pines. But one can argue that the recycled water could be used in more important locations. As you know, San Diego golf courses are sacred cows. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 19, 2014 @ 1:28 p.m.

Don, FYI, interesting Bloomberg article on Desalination:

"Israel Desalination Shows California Not to Fear Drought"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-13/israel-desalination-shows-california-not-to-fear-drought.html

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Don Bauder Feb. 19, 2014 @ 9:37 p.m.

Anon92107: That is indeed an encouraging Bloomberg story. Best, Don Bauder

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