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In response to the extreme drought conditions impacting Southern California, on October 29, 2021, the Otay Water District declared a Shortage Level 1 Drought Alert under its Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP), calling for all District customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 10%. The District is further calling for its customers to voluntarily reduce use by 15% to align with the Governor’s July 2021 Executive Order.

On April 21, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a drought emergency throughout the Russian River Watershed of Sonoma and Mendocino counties. In the following months, the Governor expanded his proclamation to additional counties, not including San Diego County. On Oct. 19, the Governor extended his drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state and asked the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to ban wasteful water practices such as using potable water for washing driveways and sidewalks. In addition, the governor’s proclamation directed water suppliers to implement Water Shortage Contingency Plans, which are responsive to local supply-demand conditions.

In line with the Metropolitan Water District’s and San Diego County Water Authority’s drought responses, Otay’s Level 1 measures are voluntary but will be reinforced through local and regional conservation outreach and education programs. Levels 2 through 6 may be triggered when there are more limitations on supply or the District’s delivery system. Then all conservation measures and water-use restrictions become mandatory.

opens in a new windowCA drought map

Click on the image to visit the U.S. Drought Monitor website.

San Diego County is better prepared for drought than other parts of the state, having invested heavily in water conservation, water recycling, seawater desalination, and transitional storage over the last 20-plus years. Still, severe drought in other parts of California can affect everyone. Despite recent rainfall, consecutive seasons with limited rain and snowmelt will force regional wholesale suppliers to begin to draw down key reservoirs serving San Diego County. The San Diego region and its water agencies continue to monitor state direction for the potential need for extraordinary water conservation measures. If the drought worsens, the water we save today could forestall more strict conservation measures later.

Otay customers can do their part and increase their water savings by taking full advantage of water-saving rebates, incentives, classes, and resources available through the Otay Water District, the Water Authority, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.


What is prohibited?

  • Prevent water waste resulting from inefficient irrigation, such as runoff or overspray. This includes stopping water flows onto non-targeted areas such as adjacent property, sidewalks, driveways, roadways, or structures.
  • Restaurants and other food service establishments should continue to serve and refill water only upon request.
  • Hotels, motels, and other commercial lodging establishments must offer guests the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.
  • Fountains or other decorative water features must be re-circulated water.
  • When washing automobiles, motorhomes, boats, or recreational vehicles, a hose equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle is required.
  • Irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians can only be performed using recycled water. The “median” is the center strip of land in the roadway.
  • Repair all water leaks within 48 hours of notification by the District.
  • Irrigation is not allowed during a rainstorm, or for 48 hours after a one-quarter inch or more of rainfall is measured at Lindbergh Field.
  • No washing down of paved surfaces including sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts, or patios, except when necessary to alleviate safety or sanitation hazards.

Am I going to be fined if my usage is considered wasteful?

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.

What programs or resources can help me conserve?

How do I report water waste?

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 619-670-2222opens phone dialer or click opens in a new windowhere 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.


Tenille Otero, Communications Officer
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Eileen Salmeron, Communications Assistant
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