In a fit of unity last week, Mayor Jerry Sanders asked City Hall to join the citizenry in conserving water. Specifically, he asked each city department to cut water usage by 10 percent--which would be great if anyone knew how much water the departments use.
The Water Department manages all the water usage in San Diego--private residents and government offices alike. Yet a spokesperson, Alma Rice, called determining the amount of water used by the government 'a Herculean effort.' Some departments, like Park and Recreation, monitor their water use very closely (see Lastblogonearth.com for details on Park and Rec's water management), but for departments that are more white-collar oriented, gathering specific numbers on water use is almost impossible.
Meters track water for an entire building, not specific offices. Even the Water Department itself, housed in a office building on B Street, does not know how much water it uses. Similarly, gathering the information for City Hall itself is nigh impossible, because the meters measure water flow into all of Civic Plaza, which includes Golden Hall, the City Hall building at 202 C St., the office building on the northeast corner, the Civic Theatre and Downtown Johnny Brown's restaurant.
How, then, will the city measure its water reduction?
'Even in the absence of detailed meter readings, there would be ways to calculate,' said a Sanders spokesperson, Bill Harris.
Well, sort of. Louis Generoso manages water conservation for the city. He said the city can estimate by dividing the number of people in a building by the number of gallons used by the building. Is that good enough to measure the 10-percent reduction?
'That's going to be hard,' he said. 'You have to look at actual consumption--you can't do estimates.'