Drought FAQs

Q. I heard I could be fined $500 for wasting water. When and how will you fine me the $500?

A. Otay Water District is not imposing fines or fining its customers at this time. The District will start water-use enforcement by sending a warning letter. Customers are then given the opportunity to bring their practices into compliance after the notification.

Q. Can we wash our cars?

A. Yes. When hand washing cars or other vehicles, use of a hose fitted with a shut-off nozzle is mandatory. A bucket is also handy. Be advised, however, to check for city or county ordinances that prohibit wash water runoff into storm drains.

Q. What days are we allowed to water? Will I be limited to watering days and times?

A.  Otay no longer has restrictions on watering days or minutes per day. It is recommended that irrigation take place before 10:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. to reduce water loss due to evaporation. This also applies when watering by hand. When watering by hand, use of a shut-off nozzle is required.

Q. What is prohibited?

A.  The following actions are prohibited:

  • Washing down driveways, patios, and sidewalks (health and safety circumstances excepted)
  • Irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians*
  • Watering of outdoor landscapes that causes runoff
  • Irrigation during a rainstorm and for 48 hours after measurable rainfall
  • Using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle
  • Using a potable water fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated
  • Restaurants may only serve water to their customers upon a customer’s request
  • Hotels and motels must offer their customers the option to not have their linens and towels laundered daily and prominently display this option in each guest room.

*Does not apply to landscape irrigated with drought-proof recycled water.
** Does not apply to landscaping irrigated with weather “Smart” irrigation controllers, high-efficiency rotating nozzles, moisture sensors, or drip systems.

Q. Am I going to be fined if our usage is considered wasteful?

A. A key element of determining if water is being wasted is to observe if it is allowed to run off a property from a leak, a sprinkler system, a hose into the gutter or storm drain system, or even irrigation during a rainstorm. Otay’s goal is to work with its customers, inform them of the state mandates, and help as many customers as possible take advantage of water conservation resources and rebates.

Q. Does this affect all of California?

A. Yes. The State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulation applies to all urban areas of California.

Q. I am already conserving/my usage is low, how much more can I cut back? Please give me examples of how I can conserve.

  • Repairing a leaky faucet can save up to 150 gallons of water per leak
  • Washing full loads of laundry can save up to 100 gallons of water per week
  • Fixing leaks in your irrigation system can save up to 210 gallons of water per day
  • Installing a drip irrigation system instead of a popup system can save up to 2,500 gallons per month
  • Visit http://apps.sandiego.gov/landcalc/start.do to develop a customized watering schedule for your landscape.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10 percent of all homes have a leak that wastes 90 gallons of water each day. Common leaks include leaking faucets and worn toilet flappers. Fixing leaks immediately will save water, and could save up to 10 percent per month on your water bill.

Q. What are you going to do about the people that are reported wasting water?

A. Otay staff will contact those individuals and work with them to eliminate the waste. For instance, we will encourage them to get a water audit that will show them how to save both water and money on future water bills.

Q. What rebates are available to help me conserve water?

To view a list of available rebates, click HERE.

Q. Will taking out my grass be the best way to keep my water bill low?

A. In some areas, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. During warmer summer months, it can make up 60 percent or more. Since irrigating turf or outdoor landscaping makes up a large portion of your bill, eliminating turf is a good way to keep your bill low. Other options include reducing the amount of irrigated turf by switching to low-water-use plant materials, synthetic turf, semi-permeable surfaces, or simply avoiding waste from overwatering, over-spray or excessive runoff.

Q. My neighbor is overwatering and I see them wasting water all the time. What are you going to do about it?

A.  A key element of determining if water is being wasted is to observe if water is allowed to run off from either a leak, a sprinkler system or a hose into the gutter or storm drain system. Please notify Otay Water District, at 619-670-2222 or click HERE to report a water waste incident. The report will be investigated and an advisory notice will be sent to the site of the water waste incident.

Q. Are you planning on desalination or toilet to tap to ease water woes?

A. Otay supports efforts to desalinate ocean water and the expanded use of recycled water. Since Otay is located inland, we do not have the ability to build a desalination plant ourselves, and with limited sewage, we do not have the ability to treat water to the level to make potable reuse cost effective. Otay does currently recycle sewage which is used for landscape irrigation and industrial processes.

Q. How do I report my neighbor’s sprinklers running too long?

A. Call Customer Service at 619-670-2222. You can also report waste by visiting our Report Water Waste Page.