Water Use

Residential Water Consumption

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Worsened less than 1 percent from
2016 to 2017

How are we doing?

Water use received a thumbs-down because daily residential water consumption in the San Diego region increased 2% from 82 gallons per capita in 2016 to 84 gallons in 2017. This increase was expected since statewide water restrictions were lifted in 2017. The county average for municipal and industrial daily water use per capita increased by five gallons (4%), and 21 of 24 county water districts increased their estimated average municipal and industrial water use from 2016 to 2017.
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In 2017, San Diego received the most rain since 2011 and recorded the second-lowest residential water use per capita in at least 17 years. As mandatory water restrictions were lifted in 2017, does the relatively small water use increase indicate continuing widespread support of water efficiency and conservation or will water use continue to increase?

Data Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California Nevada River Forecast Center, Monthly Precipitation Summary, 2017; San Diego County Water Authority, 2018

Why is it important?

  • Water transport and treatment, wastewater treatment and disposal and the energy used to heat water account for nearly 20% of the total electricity consumed in California and 30% of nonpower plant-related natural gas consumption.
  • During water transport from San Diego facilities to consumer locations some 39 gallons of water per service connection a day are lost due primarily to leaks, according to Equinox’s report on Water Supply System Losses in San Diego County.
  • More than half of the water used by San Diego County residents, and half of all urban water use in California, is for outdoor irrigation.
  • Looking to become more water efficient? Many water agencies have rebates and incentive programs for things like rain barrels, high-efficiency clothes washers and sustainable landscaping.

In Q1 of 2018, average daily residential water use ranged from 48 to 263 gallons per capita. Residents in the Santa Fe Irrigation District have used the most water per capita in the region since urban water suppliers started reporting this data to the state in Q3 of 2014.

Note: Dataset excludes the City of Del Mar, Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, the City of National City, South Bay Irrigation District and the Yuima Municipal Water District.
Data Source: State Water Resources Control Board, Urban Water Supplier Report, 2018

Data Source: San Diego County Water Authority, 2018

Data Source: San Diego County Water Authority, 2017

In 2017, the county average for municipal and industrial daily water use per capita was 116 gallons, which is five gallons more per day than in 2016. Municipal and industrial water use includes potable water consumption for residential, business and institutional uses, excluding water used under the Water Authority’s Transitional Special Agricultural Water Rate program.

Note: *Includes non-certified agricultural water use and/or agricultural water use served by local water. Yuima M.W.D. increase in municipal and industrial GPCD from the 2016 Dashboard is due to the inclusion of mutual water districts’ local groundwater water use within Yuima’s service area.

Change in Estimated Municipal & Industrial Daily Potable Water Use per Capita

(FY 2016 - FY 2017)

> 20% decrease
20% - 10% decrease
< 10% decrease
< 10% increase
10% - 20% increase
> 20% increase

From 2016 to 2017, the City of Oceanside and Rainbow Municipal Water District experienced a decrease in potable municipal and industrial daily per capita water use. The Santa Fe Irrigation District and Valley Center Municipal Water District had the greatest increases at over 10%.

Data Source: San Diego County Water Authority, 2018

  Idea for Change

Water conservation is an important and ongoing challenge in Southern California. One of the most efficient ways to save water is by reducing irrigation, which can consume thirty to sixty percent of household water usage. To address this, the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) created the WaterSmart Checkup Program, which offers free, on-site assessments of household irrigation systems. In addition, the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program offers courses on designing water-efficient landscapes. SDCWA should expand this program, by including online courses, developing interactive resources, and incorporating greater partnerships with irrigation experts and landscape designers. This will ensure that more homeowners participate in the program, and that water savings are optimized.

  Bright Spot

Craft breweries have brought significant economic activity to San Diego, but they are also energy- and water-intensive. To help work toward reducing municipal water use, Stone Brewing made a pale ale with purified reclaimed water to demonstrate the technology and help promote the City of San Diego’s Pure Water program. Following the lead of Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System, the Pure Water reclamation project is designed to provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by 2035 through water purification and reuse.

  What are we measuring?

We measure year-over-year residential, and municipal and industrial water use per person in San Diego County by water agency. In addition, we compare per capita estimated residential water use to the year’s rainfall at San Diego International Airport.
Learn more about the data.