This summer, Rancho Santa Fe has been making headlines. Although not necessarily for the right reasons. Articles like “Rich Californians balk at limits” were written by the Washington Post and “In Rancho Santa Fe, Drought is for Others” by the Capital Press. Fox News and even late night comedians have weighed in on the water controversy.
The articles came in response to Governor Brown’s mandated water restrictions in which some Covenant members made statements criticizing the new regulations. One resident was quoted as suggesting, “we are not all equal when it comes to water.” Unfortunately, the national media was more interested in extracting an out-of-context quote from the community than understanding the actual water situation and community sentiment.
Rancho Santa Fe was built in 1920 and the average lot size is almost three acres. So, with new restrictions now in place that are based on use-per-household, the media’s scrutiny has come without much weight given to the reality that Rancho Santa Fe residents do have a higher hill to climb to conserve water.
The real water story is more complicated. And Rancho Santa Fe residents, as a whole, have taken the water shortage seriously, according to several community members. RSF Board President Ann Boon told the RSF Post:
“Despite the perception in the media, most Rancho Santa Fe residents are taking the drought and the new restrictions very seriously,” said Boon. “Just look around and you will see landscapes that have been completely redone with drought-tolerant plants. We’ve also been promoting water conserving solutions for over a year now. Implementing these solutions takes time, of course. But to suggest that we think we as a community have a sense of entitlement because of a one-off comment is just a failure of modern journalism; it is not reality.”
Mike Licosati, a newly-elected RSF Board member, has been a leader in water conservation efforts. When asked if he thought residents in Rancho Santa Fe were indifferent to the new restrictions, Mr. Licosati said:
“Not at all. Most residents want to conserve water and are taking measures to do so. Many are skeptical of Governor Brown's executive order, because it is a temporary solution that doesn’t solve core infrastructure problems. In reality, San Diego’s water situation isn’t as bad as the rest of the state because we acted a long time ago to secure an ample water supply. Even so, we in Rancho Santa Fe are taking large steps to reduce consumption and do our part to conserve.”
As of July 1, new restrictions require the Santa Fe Irrigation District to raise water use restrictions to Level 3. This means that residents will get about 11,000 gallons of water per two-month billing cycle and comes as an effort to reduce water consumption across the SFID by 45%.
New figures released this month by the Santa Fe Irrigation District show that the district cut water use in May by 42% compared to the same time period in 2013. The district credited their customers for working hard to reduce water use in a very significant way. The district also said that based on early numbers, they are optimistic that their customers will continue the trend into the summer months.