County Cuts Its Water Use by 15 Percent


As climate change magnifies the frequency, severity, and length of drought conditions in our region and state, the importance of water conservation increases. The County committed to reducing water consumption at its facilities in the 2018 Climate Action Plan.

By conducting regular water audits to monitor consumption, and implementing best practices at County facilities, the County is achieving its goal of 15% water reduction. These efforts help reduce both the strain on water regional supplies and greenhouse gas emissions from the treatment and distribution of water.

To reduce potable water consumption, or water safe for drinking, the County implements water-wise landscaping design and uses high efficiency water fixtures in new facilities. Guided by the Strategic Energy Plan (SEP) Water Use Strategy, the County has also retrofitted existing facilities, replaced landscaping with artificial turf, mulch or xeriscape, and planted native plants suitable to the climactic zone, all strategies which are intended to use less water for irrigation. The County also uses satellite-based “smart” irrigation controllers at County facilities, which regulate sprinkler use based on local weather conditions.

Water Use at County Facilities

County Water Use by Year

In 2019, these efforts helped reduce County water use by 72 million gallons – a 15.5 percent reduction below 2014 baseline levels! This is equivalent to the amount of water used by 1,966 residents in a year.

These water conservation efforts helped the County obtain the 2018 CAP’s Measure W-1.3: Reduce Potable Water Use 2020 target to reduce County water consumption by 15% below 2014 levels.

Water-wise landscaping design
Water-wise landscaping design

County receives recognition for protecting water resources

In 2020, the County received two Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its work to protect the region’s water resources.

NACo Category: Community Resilience: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability

The County protects the region’s creeks, rivers, and oceans by reducing pollution and the amount of runoff reaching our rivers and oceans. The County developed Green Infrastructure (GI) Strategies, which provides new guidance for developers of public and private design, construction, and maintenance projects. GI Strategies are designed to mimic the natural water cycle within the built environment through innovative use of vegetation, mulch, and engineered soils. By using these GI Strategies, developers can save time and money while improving water quality in the region. The County is the only agency in the region, and one of few in the nation, to develop Green Streets Guidance.

Green Streets Guidance
Green Streets Guidance

NACo Category: Community Resilience: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability

The Borrego Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan, finalized in August 2019, was the first sustainability plan created in California and is poised to be the first used to comprehensively determine groundwater rights. The County developed the sustainability plan with the Borrego Water District to ensure groundwater resources can be sustainably managed, to promote intergovernmental cooperation in addressing groundwater overdraft, and to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Saving water at home

If the County’s water conservation efforts inspire you to reduce your water use at home, you can find a list of tips here and here. You’ll find ideas on how to lower your water use both inside and outdoors. Information on rebates for WaterSmart irrigation devices can be found here. The County also offers a Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual you can use to help get you started on reducing water in your home landscaping.

We hope that you’ll join us in conserving this precious resource!