Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Focus turns to outdoor water use

By Michael Gardner

COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

SACRAMENTO – Move over low-flush toilet. Step aside trickling showerhead. Make room for the satellite-controlled sprinkler and the pressure broom.

California's water watchdogs have escalated their outdoor conservation campaigns, pledging millions of dollars for rebates and other incentives to persuade residents and businesses to be just as conscientious outside as they have been inside.

"The next big frontier is more focus on exterior water use," said Lester Snow, director of the state Department of Water Resources.

On average, half of the water in the San Diego region is used outdoors, according to the county water authority. Three of every four gallons are sprinkled on landscape during the warmer months.

"There is a huge chunk of savings even in our own back yards," said Vickie Driver, a resources specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority.

Southern California water agencies are aggressively taking the fight outside.

"We've wrung most of the water savings out of your house," said Lynn Lipinski, who promotes conservation for the Metropolitan Water District, the giant wholesaler in Southern California.

Statewide, specialists representing dozens of agencies, business interests and environmental groups have proposed far-reaching initiatives to reward water misers and punish wasters.

"The success inside the home has emboldened water agencies to realize just how much savings is available from outdoor conservation," said Frances Spivy-Weber of Redondo Beach, a member of the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

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