San Marcos sets the water saving example

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With drought conditions persisting, the City of San Marcos is actively doing its part to conserve and set the water saving example by retrofitting fixtures in city buildings, reducing irrigation cycles, making irrigation efficiency changes, conducting irrigation water audits, using water-wise landscaping and closing city fountains.

As of June 1, 2016, the local water reduction requirement is 16 percent compared to 2013 water usage levels. 

Through aggressive water conservation, the City of San Marcos Public Works Division has achieved more than 35 percent water savings for landscaped ares.

Read on to learn more about city water conservation.

To report instances of water runoff into streets, sidewalk gutters or storm drains from public or residential areas please call the stormwater hotline at (760) 481-3878. 

Water Conservation

City Facilities


Water Audits


Fountain Closures


Residential Water Conservation

For more information about residential mandatory water conservation measures, please visit the Vallecitos Water District website. For the most up-to-date information on regional water supply availability, visit San Diego County Water Authority.

Retrofitting Fixtures in City Buildings

Over the past two years  city facilities were retrofit with automatic shutoff, low-flow faucets. Low-flow showerheads and aerators at all fire stations and at the public works building along. Time time-controlled showers at other select facilities will be installed by 2017.

Reducing Irrigation Cycles

Irrigation for ornamental turf in street medians has been eliminated. Medians and parkways at City Hall were converted from turf to low-water meadow grasses and plants. Other medians throughout the community will also be converted to include water-wise landscapes and drip irrigation systems.

Irrigation Efficiency Changes

Since 2010, the city has retrofitted approximately 4,900 conventional sprinkler heads with high efficiency sprinkler heads, resulting in 30 percent less water use and reduced runoff.

This year alone, the City’s Public Works Department installed nearly 3,000 new rotary nozzles in turf areas and medians. Six new SMART controllers covering nine acres were also installed to make real-time adjustments based on weather information to avoid water waste. Plans are in place to install 30 more SMART web-based irrigation controllers by fall 2016.

Irrigation Water Audits

Since July 2015, the city has conducted nine water audits to uncover opportunities for additional irrigation efficiencies.

The City requires water audits prior to the acceptance of public landscaping projects. Certified city staff are performing water audits of existing maintenance projects and public parks to improve irrigation efficiency.

Water-Wise Landscaping

Based on the city’s water efficient landscape ordinance, native and/or drought tolerant plants are being used extensively in new public space landscaping projects .

Recent projects that used native and/or drought tolerant landscaping include :

  • Montiel Park expansion;
  • Tiger Way and Autumn Drive in the Richmar area;
  • Buelow, Sunset and Connors parks (other than the turf areas);
  • the Barham Drive Urban Trail (along the CSUSM frontage);
  • Campus Way (next to the Quad),
  • re-landscaping of the entrance to the Public Works yard on Mata Way
  • medians on South Rancho Santa Fe Road; and
  •  The Town Center turf grass medians and parkways along San Marcos Boulevard.  

Moving forward, street medians, parkways and city-maintained facilities will be systematically upgraded—as budgets allow—to install drip irrigation and native and/or drought tolerant landscaping.

The older, less efficient areas will be targeted first and attention will be paid to assure compatibility with adjacent landscape architecture.  This fall, areas that were formerly covered in ornamental turf along Las Posas and Borden Roads in the Santa Fe Hills neighborhood will be transformed into more water-wise designs.


The fountain at Woodland Park pond will remain on because the water feature is an integral component to maintaining the pond water quality. Not only is the fountain fed by well water but the pond water is also re-circulated as the supply for the irrigation of the park landscape. 

For more information about the city’s water conservation efforts, contact the Public Works Department at (760) 752-7550, ext. 3331.