San Diego County Water Authority vs The Public

On Friday, September 4, the San Diego County Water Authority joined the Nextdoor neighborhood-oriented social network. The Water Authority has the ability to share information to every Nextdoor neighborhood in their jurisdiction, and read/reply to the responses. Their first two posts prompted a *lively* discussion among the public. We categorized the types of questions/frustrations that were expressed, and have the San Diego County Water Authority’s response.

The Water Authority’s second post on Nextdoor drew the most engagement:

Have you seen this sign in your neighborhood? [SEE PHOTO ABOVE] If so, we encourage you to post a photo of your “When in Drought” sign or signs you’ve seen in your neighborhood to Nextdoor, so we can show how San Diego residents are saving water every way, every day.

If you are really proud, want us to share your photo regionally, please send it for consideration to [email protected]. If you need a “When in Drought” yard sign, please stop by between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday through Thursday at the Water Authority’s office at 4677 Overland Ave. 92123.

Thanks again, San Diego County. Together we are saving every day, every way!

Roughly 300 people from throughout San Diego County replied to their posts, many with questions and many who expressed frustrations. After categorizing the general theme of the responses, the top three most frequent topics, by far, were:

  1. Frustration about Conservation Requirements / Blaming Government for Drought
  2. Frustration about Water Rate Increases
  3. People Angry that the San Diego County Water Authority Joined Nextdoor.

Other common topics included:

  • Questions about Rebates / Requests for More Rebates
  • Frustration about New Home Construction During Drought
  • Questions/Tips about Water Conservation

The level of engagement from the community, and the types of questions/frustrations that were expressed, prompted the San Diego County Water Authority Senior Public Affairs Representative, Mike Lee, to write the following response:

From: Senior Public Affairs Representative Mike Lee

Senior Public Affairs Representative Mike Lee Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to engage in water issues, and a special thank you to the tens of thousands of people across the county who have saved extraordinary amounts of water in recent months.

I’ll briefly address some of the comments and questions raised in response to our recent posts. Unfortunately we don’t have the capacity to respond to each query, but more information is at

— Planning for drought: The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have been preparing for drought conditions for more than two decades through one of the most aggressive water supply diversification strategies in the nation. The region has invested billions of dollars in recent decades to secure more reliable supplies and upgrade the regional water infrastructure. The strategy has worked: even after four dry years, our region has 99 percent of the water it needs to meet projected demands. In a March public opinion poll, 84 percent of respondents countywide supported this approach.

— Water conservation mandates: Unprecedented state mandates to decrease water use across our region by roughly 20 percent (regardless of supplies) have significantly reduced water sales at the same time as we are paying for infrastructure upgrades such as the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which will start producing water late this fall, and raising San Vicente Dam, which allows us to store water for future dry years. The Water Authority is encouraging state regulators (who imposed the mandatory water-use cutbacks that are in place until February) to develop a more refined approach to drought response that accounts for the preparations our region has made and the reliable supplies we have.

— The cost of water: Despite falling water sales in the short term, debt payments for the region’s infrastructure still need to be made and the delivery system still needs to be maintained. That creates the unfortunate situation that we are in today where lower sales contribute to higher rates. However, it’s important to remember that public water agencies by law can’t make profits – their rates must be tied to the actual costs of providing the service (and the Water Authority has a rigorous third-party review process to make sure that’s the case).

— Water conservation resources: The Water Authority offers numerous resources for making water conservation upgrades. These include WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes, rebates for water-efficient devices and appliances, free home water-use surveys and tips for how to take care of your trees during droughts. Go to for more information.

Thanks again for your interest and efforts to save water.


Here is a sampling of actual comments from the community:

Questions about Rebates / Requests for More Rebates

  • We can get rebates for replacing toilets? I was just happy with the reduced water use…but a rebate would be nice. 🙂
  • can I get a rebate for a new water heater? Anything energy wise I should look for?
  • Hey- any news on grey water system rebates?
  • Any talk about reimbursing residents that get rid of their pool?
  • Does this mean I can now find someone who cares enough to help me with getting the rebates for the toilets that I replaced. I hope someone sends me a private message to lead the way. Thanks.
  • We can get rebates for replacing toilets? I was just happy with the reduced water use…but a rebate would be nice. 🙂
  • Trying to save water…wish I had been able to take advantage of rebates. Hoping for more.

Frustration about Water Rate Increases

  • The only problem is the more water you save, the less money helix water makes and the higher they’re going to raise the rates. Show up to the October 7 meeting to oppose the proposed rate hikes!
  • You’re welcome! Please don’t raise our rates to make up revenue shortfalls!
  • You’re welcome…we did what we could. Just don’t do what Seattle did and hike up rates because of lost revenue.
  • How about fixing the broken logic the because we conserved so much water, our rates are going to go up???
  • The only way to keep your water rates from jumping is to insist that San Diego gets full credit for its conservation and water investments. Please visit and sign our petition.
  • No way, together are we saving every day. We save And conserve and our bills continue to increase. Less water use equals less revenue and higher bills and zero incentive for the customer.
  • We save water. You raise our rates to cover your revenue shortfalls. How fair is that?
  • I did my part to conserve and somehow I was billed for using 3x more water than my average use. Called and was told my meter read was correct. Don’t have a leak that is showing during a 30 minute meter read test. How in conservation mode did I go from a average 10-18 HCF to 48? Thanks for the $400 bill!
  • Don’t Jake up the prices by ensuring our tax payers are doing everything by saving water. Let’s start checking our government facilities for ways to save resources. Create community jobs, free water saving ideas.
  • Do your jobs and build reservoirs. The buckets aren’t even a thimble in the draught. And we over conserve and they raise the price of water. Brilliant.
  • Yeah, thanks for raising my rates after I reduced my water consumption. More $ for less water. What a great economic model!
  • The sign should say “I’m saving water every way possible so don’t raise my rates just to pay for your bloated payroll”.
  • Seriously? First they tell us to save water so we do. Then they say they are not taking in enough revenue to cover cost’s because water usage has dropped. So instead of shrinking their payroll like any other business they now need to raise water rates. Maybe I am thick or something but isn’t our government supposed to plan for cyclical droughts regulate new construction and plan communities to match the amount of water and electricity that is available? A sign in my front yard proclaiming that I am proud to conform to the agenda by a local and state government that is completely irresponsible and reckless is Orwellian.
  • My absolutely dead and brown lawn says it all! Screw the sign! And I agree with everybody. The more water we don’t use, the higher our water bill gets. Nuts!
  • and then they will INCREASE our water rates because we are not using enough water/paying enough to cover bloated salaries, LA Metropolitan Water district theft/over charges. Get ready for your new bills in January where Less=More!

Frustrations with New Construction During Drought

  • If there is such a severe drought, why are building permits hitting an all-time high? Where is THAT water coming from? Oh yes, more houses means more tax revenue. It’s a political game and people find it hard to believe that there really is a drought.
  • I cannot believe what I’m reading. Seriously, we are in a drought yet building is skyrocketing in San Diego County. Rebates??? for what?
  • Why are we still building homes and apartments for more people to move into if we don’t have enough water for our current residents? Not to mention the fact that everyone dumps on the homeowners and we have NO ONE to dump on. I am vehemently opposed to my water costs increasing when I utilize rain water plus household water, and infrequently use water from the outside hoses. I’m tired of the lies and shenanigans.
  • Also, if water is so darn tight, why did they approve 600 new homes for the empty space behind Kohls off Marron Road? That’s at least 1200 more cars on our already clogged roads and 2400 (average 4 people per unit) taking showers and doing laundry plus any other household water use (dishes, lawns etc.). They can do that while we can’t even water our lawns much at all? Something isn’t right about that!
  • Same with the Harmony Grove homes. Don’t know how California is supposed to sustain so many more homes and people with such a drought.
  • Yes, we are in a drought but,the Water Authority and the City of San Diego are rediculous! They are bulldozing hundreds of acres west of 4S ranch, and installing so many new water meters it would make your head spin!
    Poway is about to approve many homes next the Circle K on Twin Peaks as well but, “Let you lawn get a tan”! I thought Mayor Vaus was proud of his water conservation so, why is he for new construction during this drought?
    We are being misled, and the Water Authority should quit be two faced and stay off this site!

Frustrations about Conservation Requirements / Blaming Government for Drought

  • Please, spare me the hypocrisy…I watched more water evaporate from the fountains in the new water park this year than I will probably use in the next ten years!
  • Dump the propaganda signs. The Union Tribune finally tells the truth. Read this link.
  • I fear all the dead lawns that have become dirt due to lack of water will result in erosion and sedimentation if we do have a rainy year. I have already seen it in my community with the summer rain event.
  • That is great we saved water. Now we can fund Cal Fire and wait for the first spark ! Eucalyptus Hills is bone dry and that doesn’t make me feel very safe.
    How about the rest of you in the hills??
  • Today’s paper..
  • So how do you impose water restrictions for those with swimming pools, you know that water in these pools evaporate faster, hence more water consumption. Need a reply. Thank you.
  • I look forward to you sharing ALL of the facts–including the fact that there is not shortage of water in San Diego, in large part due to the fact that San Diego is a leader in the fields of desal, reclaimed water, even increasing reservoir capacity! See for more information, including an article from yesterday’s UT, Water levels rise amid drought
  • I think. the city should watch their water use. sprinklers on watering the freeways. city collage going. we save our water from our showers to water are lawn.
  • If you want to see an example of what not to be proud of, have a look at the dripping fire hydrants on Shelter Island….they look wet and diseased and so far I have been unable to get anyone to respond..they are dripping and disgusting..
  • This post makes my blood boil. The drought is nature made, but the water shortage is government made. The State of California and the San Diego Water Authority created this problem by not creating water storage and greenlighting desalinization.
  • Droughts are caused by weather, water shortages are caused by bureaucrats! This problem should have been fixed years ago. Get off the bullet train and spend our tax dollars on desalinization plants! And stop spending money on signs!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • The sign should say ” droughts are caused by the weather, water shortages are caused by government”…50 years and no extra storage. Who’s going to pay for removing my dead trees?
  • If we get a lot of rain this winter, the dead and dirt lawns will turn to mud, then will slide into homes and storm drains, blocking them up and causing flooding. Artificial turf is an unknown except that it raises the ambient temp around it by 10 degrees (and isn’t global warming at least partially responsible for the draught?). I’ve increased my flood insurance just in case!
  • the drought is bull-shit. if sacramento had been doing there job the last 20 years, we would not have a problem. the environmental movement is destroying this city, state, country and world. climate change/global warming is a butch of crap.
  • There is no question that we are in a drought like many other western states however, California is the only state that has a water shortage from what I have read. This is a direct result of our policy decisions and not a shortage of water. So I feel Norm’s pain.
  • A politically created draught to be followed by a politically created power shortage and then by a politically created gas shortage, leading to a politically created food shortage…..Keep voting these politicians into office if this is what you want. ….

People Angry that the San Diego County Water Authority Joined Nextdoor.

  • I don’t really like the fact that you jumped on our private network & took my email. I didn’t give you permission to use it nor did I sign up with Nextdoor so that my email is given out without my knowledge or permission. Please remove it from your list immediately.
  • I didn’t start Nextdoor San Diego Country Estates to have our group bombarded by government or public officials. My appologies to all of you in our San Diego Country Estates Nextdoor neighborhood if this post has offended you as much as it has offended me. I don’t know where Tenille comes from, but she shoudl keep her comments to her own group, not blast NEXTDOOR in general. Again my applogies for these unsolicited posts from San Diego County Water Authority and their representative.
  • I do not support the SDCWA using our Nextdoor NETWORK to forward their messages too us. That is NOT THE PURPOSE OF THE NEXTDOOR NETWORK. Please respect our wishes. Thank you.
  • I do not appreciate the multiple posts nor do my neighbors. Kindly start a private group for this! Thank you.
  • This is a local/neighborhood forum. Your posts here are not welcome.
  • I am not sure I think the water authority or any government entity should be posting on a neighborhood site…personally, I like the old time flavor and prefer not being “sold” on drought policies whether they should have already been anticipated by building reservoirs or not…its politics. Just my thoughts
  • I appreciate links for tips, but not entire postings. I see ones on other community based Facebook pages, and as Nancy says, like the old time flavor of neighbors helping neighbors.
  • If Nextdoor allows this use by government agencies to invade our privacy I will say we should all discontinue the use of Nextdoor and encourage everyone we know to do likewise……This announcement should be under Political items so I do not have to get it. Remove it…….
  • I opted out of all of these emails. Give me a break.
  • I would prefer the government bureaucracy did not post here. The rhetoric is not appreciated, Nor needed. Hundreds of thousands of people are allowed to move into this state. Homes are built. Nothing is done to improve infrastructure. We dont have enough water. Imagine that. If the water authority continues to post here. I will resign my membership in this group.
  • I didn’t start Nextdoor San Diego Country Estates to have our group bombarded by government or public officials. My appologies to all of you in our San Diego Country Estates Nextdoor neighborhood if this post has offended you as much as it has offended me. I don’t know where Tenille comes from, but she shoudl keep her comments to her own group, not blast NEXTDOOR in general. Again my applogies for these unsolicited posts from San Diego County Water Authority and their representative.
  • If you don’t live in our neighborhood, don’t use our website to advertise government propaganda on us. Stop illegal immigration to save water. We’re too smart out here in Gopher Canyon for that mess.
  • No! Stop posting Orwellian govt crap on websites such as these! If the govt did its job, we would not be in this predicament.
  • I thought this was supposed to be a neighborhood site….we are combining all of San Diego County on this thing count me out
  • I thought that political messages were not allowed on Nextdoor. In San Diego we have more water than we know what to do with and we are pumping it into the reservoirs. When ‘El Nino’ arrives, we will be pumping it into the Ocean. The whole water crisis is nothing more than politics.
  • Report the water authority. They don’t belong on our neighborhood sites. I don’t wanna see posts from criminals.

Questions/Tips about Conservation

  • The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon is a great resource for drought tolerant ground cover, & plants, as well as composting information, & growing your own food. They also have a nursery nearby where you can purchase plants too. We’ve been going there for years now & love it!
  • Great! Can you recommend somewhere to go to get information and ideas about drought tolerant plant options? We have gutted our backyard and don’t know what to put back there for the little ones to run around on. We can’t do gravel or wood chips, fake grass is too expensive, and we don’t want to put regular old grass back there. Thank you!
  • Bought 4 5 gallon buckets of water every time we shower we save 5+ gallons of water. I can water all my veggies and the palms in the back yard. Been able to conserve 25% and backed down watering. Saving for gutters and more rain barrels. Hoping the El Niño can help me with my little farm.
  • I keep a bucket in my shower to save the water when I’m warming up the water, then I use it to water my plants outside. Have not needed to use the hose for weeks! I also keep a tub in the sink to collect water, then dump it on my would not believe how much water you can get by doing this simple act. Give it a try! Buckets are only about 2.00 at Home Depot.
  • I really enjoy the creativity of some residents here in Serra Mesa, they have rocks instead of grass and beautiful varieties of succulents. Grass is really a waste of water when you think about it.
  • I landscaped my yard with Cactus and succulent..because after living many years on 10 acres, I was tired of being tied to a never ending garden of yardwork. I enjoy the ease of this style and the beauty too. It blooms and changes with the seasons. I can take cuttings and easily transplant them to enhance my backyard too. I chose this style BEFORE the drought and love it!!