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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.

CA 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.

Due to severe drought conditions, on Jan. 4, 2022, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation, which became effective on Jan. 18. It will remain in effect for one year unless the State Water Board acts to end, modify, or readopt it. Adopted Emergency Regulation Requirements are as follows:

  • Turn off decorative water fountains
  • Turn off/pause irrigation systems when it’s raining and for two days after rain
  • Use an automatic shutoff nozzle on water hoses
  • Do not use potable water to clean sidewalks, driveways, buildings, structures patios, parking lots, or other hard-surfaced areas, except in cases where health and safety are at risk
  • Give trees just what they need: avoid overwatering

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


What is prohibited?

  • Applying water to outdoor landscapes resulting in more than incidental runoff
  • Washing vehicles without an automatic shutoff nozzle
  • Washing impervious areas
  • Street cleaning or construction site prep
  • Decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds
  • Irrigating turf within 48 hours of one-fourth of an inch (¼”) of rainfall
  • Irrigating turf on public medians

The use of water is not prohibited to the extent use is necessary to address an immediate health and safety need. This may include, but is not limited to, the use of potable water in a fountain or water feature when required to be potable because human contact is expected to occur.

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 619-670-2222 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.


Tenille Otero, Communications Officer

Eileen Salmeron, Communications Assistant