The vote by the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors in February was unanimous and the message was clear: conserve, conserve, conserve.

Drought conditions in parts of California are as bad as they have been in a century. As the county’s representative to the Water Authority, I joined my colleagues from twenty-four member agencies in support of furthering conservation.

The directors’ vote initiated the agency’s Water Shortage and Drought Response Plan to conserve as much stored water as possible so it can be made available where it is needed most. Last activated in 2007, the plan is designed to preserve the water held in storage and to minimize the impacts of supply challenges.

The board also approved alerting all of its member agencies that the region is at Level 1 Drought Watch. That means that water district officials must identify specific actions necessary for their communities, such as repairing leaks quickly, limiting irrigation to the evening and early-morning hours and expanding use of recycled and non-potable water.

As we lay plans to conserve, we can feel good about our track record. San Diego County has reduced its water consumption by 27% since 2007, even though our population has increased.

The Water Authority, to its credit, has greatly expanded the county’s storage capacity and has made capital investments and negotiated agreements to diversify the sources of our water portfolio.

Since January, when I took over as the county’s water board representative, I have toured the Colorado River Aqueduct and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Bay Delta. Those trips drove home an important point: that most of the water we consume travels great distances, and at great cost, to reach us. And when water flows from our faucets, it’s no accident.

To maintain our quality of life for our homes, businesses and farms, we must continue to diversify our supplies and to expand water recycling and reuse. And of course, conservation is key.

To learn more about how to conserve water visit the Water Authority’s website at

Dave Roberts represents the Third District on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.