The California State Water Resources Control Board ranked Rancho Santa Fe as the highest water consumer on a per-capita basis. However, there a few things to consider that put the ranking into perspective.
RSF has low population density (460 people per square mile) with large ranch-style properties, some that stretch between two to ten acres. Even under the most conservative watering practices, the maintenance of properties will drive up the per-capita water consumption.
The RSF community has been making considerable efforts to conserve water. The Golf Club is nearly done with a renovation project to reduce water usage by removing 18.5 acres of turf and placing low-water-use native shrubs. The project qualified for a $1.6 million rebate from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD).
The Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) declared a level-two mandatory water-use restriction back in September which restricted landscape irrigation to the most efficient times of day and enforced fines for violations.
Association Board President Ann Boon stated:
“Over the past six or seven years, the Association has been a conscientious leader in replanting Covenant-owned areas with drought-tolerant trees and shrubs. Such projects were begun a few years ago, inspired by board members who wanted to model good conservation habits to the community.”
Boon also mentioned that the Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC), which handles the building application process, emphasizes the installation of drought-tolerant plant materials. This helps maintain a natural environment while limiting landscape irrigation needs. The Association can only go as far as encouraging residents to go the extra mile, but Boon stated:
“[M]any of our residents have taken steps on their own to remove areas of lawn and to replace thirsty plants and trees with ones that need a lot less water. Many residents have also been installing “smart” controls for their irrigation systems as well as water-conserving sprinkler heads. All these efforts contribute to reduction in water use.”
While the Ranch and its community is making great strides in limiting its water consumption, Boon notes that the effort should not stop just yet:
“We can all learn better ways to save water while preserving the natural beauty of Rancho Santa Fe. We can do more, so keep up the good work.”