By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large
The City of San Diego wasted no time getting its water waste enforcement program up and running in the wake of the state-mandated crackdown on water wasting that went into effect on June 1.
Luis Generoso of the city’s Public Utilities Department says people had already been reporting water wasters before the state acted but that enforcement actions have increased measurably in June.
“We’ve been getting a number of calls, and we’ve taken some enforcement actions as a result of those calls,” Generoso said. “People who have been good about saving water get a little upset when their neighbors are not doing their part, and they’re not afraid to give us a call. When we get calls, we go out and check the situation and take whatever actions are called for.”
With the 2015-2016 budget recently adopted by the City Council and Mayor Faulconer, more funding is available for enforcement, Generoso said.
“We’ve also gotten the go-ahead from the city to recruit and hire five more code compliance officers — one supervisor and four more officers — to bring us up to a total of 22 personnel to handle the calls,” he said.
At first, people weren’t really sure how to report, but there’s a phone number they can use to call: 619-533-5271. Reports can also be made online at waterwaste.sandiego.gov.
Generoso said the code compliance people plan to be more visible out in the community. The added personnel will enable officers to be more visible and proactive on the streets, including mornings and evenings and weekends as well.
There are a number of steps the code compliance requirements can be handled, with increasing penalties including fines for persistent violators. There have been some fines already, although the City isn’t really trying to collect money so much as it’s trying to get people to voluntarily alter their water usage patterns.
If it becomes time to get tough, the mechanism is there.
Administrative citations (read: “fines”) start at $100 and scale upward to $1,000. If that doesn’t work, a notice of violation can cost up to $2,500 per day.
If the message still doesn’t get through, things get tougher. The violator would be referred to the City Attorney for possible civil or criminal prosecution.
There is, at the end of the list, the pretty much ultimate punishment.
The city will simply shut off your water. Yes, the city can do that. It definitely doesn’t want to, but it will.
Generoso says some fines have been levied, mostly for too much runoff or watering during an actual rainstorm.
There are specific days you can water, depending on your address. The best way to find out your days is to go to the city’s website at sandiego.gov/water/drought.
All the answers are there. It’s time well spent.
—Write to Doug Curlee, Editor at Large, at email@example.com.