Water and wastewater measures focus on increasing water efficiency in appliances in new residential development, reducing treated water used in landscaping within new residential development and at County facilities, and helping unincorporated county residents capture and utilize rainwater at home. Measures in this sector will help the County achieve reductions of 14,148 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 and 17,622 in 2030.

On September 30, 2020, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors voted to set aside its approval of the County’s 2018 Climate Action Plan (2018 CAP) and related actions because the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (2018 CAP SEIR) was found to be out of compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In response to this Board action, staff are preparing a Climate Action Plan Update (CAP Update) to revise the 2018 CAP and correct the items identified by the Court within the Final 2018 CAP SEIR that were not compliant. The 2018 CAP and EIR are being revised in partnership with residents, and business and environmental groups. The County continues implementing sustainability measures to effectively reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) as part of its ongoing commitment to the environment. The court ruling struck down part of the 2018 CAP’s EIR but did not find fault with its 26 GHG reduction measures. Learn more about the CAP Update.


Strategy W-1 – Reduce Potable Water Consumption

Strategy W-2 – Increase Rainwater Use


Climate change magnifies the frequency, severity, and length of drought conditions in our region and state. Reducing indoor and outdoor water use and capturing rainwater for irrigation results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, processing, and transportation of treated water.


  • Distributed an equivalent of 1,232 rain barrels in 2022 and a total of 10,493 barrels since 2014
  • In 2020, adopted updates to the Landscaping Ordinance to achieve a 40% reduction in water use for outdoor landscaping from 2014 levels
  • Adopted updates in 2020 to the County’s Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual
  • Adopted updates to the Building Code in 2020 (Item 4) to improve indoor water efficiency in new residential development


  • In 2022, the County received a National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award (NACo Category: County Resiliency) for the Landscaping Ordinance Update. Adopted in 2020, updates to the Landscaping Ordinance reduce outdoor water use and increase residential tree planting to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, conserve natural resources and improve water quality. Implementation of the amended ordinance will reduce outdoor water use by 40% from 2014 levels and require two trees to be planted for each new single-family residence.
  • The Department of Public Works’ Waterscape Rebate Program won a 2022 NACo Achievement Award (County Resiliency) for its innovative approach to stormwater management. The program, which offers rebates to residents for the installation of landscaping and water-wise features, encourages landscape upgrades like turf replacement and rain barrels on private property that help protect and filter water run-off quality. To maximize the program’s impact, the County partnered with the San Diego County Water Authority on a portion of the rebate offerings to augment benefits that also reduce water consumption and contribute to sustainability goals for the region.
  • The Borrego Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan was the first sustainability plan created in California. The Plan ensures groundwater resources can be sustainably managed and the is the first to comprehensively determine groundwater rights. The County received an Achievement Award from NACo in 2020 (NACo Category: Community & Economic Development).
  • In 2019, the County developed Green Infrastructure Strategies, which provides guidance for developers of public and private design, construction and maintenance projects. The County received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) in 2020 (NACo Category: Community Resilience: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability).