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Public Utilities

Water Use Restrictions

a drip sprinkler head outdoors

Water is a limited and precious resource that we all must use wisely. Using water efficiently is our way of life in San Diego, and reducing our water use starts with all of us making smart choices. 

In addition to the City's permanent water use restrictions, the State of California bans the use of drinking water for watering decorative grass (also referred to as non-functional turf) in commercial, industrial and institutional areas.

Permanent Mandatory Water Restrictions

water sprinkler

The City of San Diego has year-round permanent mandatory water restrictions in place. These restrictions are designed to promote water conservation as a permanent way of life in San Diego.

  • A customer shall not allow potable water to irrigate outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff, such that, water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures.
  • Customers shall repair or stop all water leaks upon discovery or within 72 hours of notification by the City of San Diego.
  • Customers shall not wash down sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, or other paved areas without using a power washer or a hose with a shutoff nozzle. Washing any paved areas is only allowed to alleviate immediate safety or sanitation hazards. Water shall be collected and prevented from leaving the property and entering the municipal separate storm sewer system.
  • Customers shall not overfill swimming pools and spas.
  • Customers shall not use non-recirculating potable water in ornamental fountains or cascading fountains.
  • Customers shall not use a hose that dispenses potable water to wash a motor vehicle, except where the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle or device attached to it that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use.
  • Single pass-through cooling systems, as part of water service connections, shall be prohibited after the effective date of this section. Non-recirculating systems in all conveyer car wash and commercial laundry systems shall be prohibited after the effective date of this section.
  • The serving of drinking water other than upon request in eating or drinking establishments, including but not limited to restaurants, hotels, cafes, cafeterias, bars or other public places where food or drink are served and/or purchased is prohibited.
  • To promote water conservation, operators of hotels and motels shall provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily. The hotel or motel shall prominently display notice of this option in each guestroom using clear and easily understood language.
  • Potted plants, non-commercial vegetable gardens and fruit trees, and residential and commercial landscapes, including golf courses, parks, school grounds and recreation fields, may only be watered before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • The irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians shall be prohibited.
  • The application of potable water to outdoor landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall shall be prohibited.

These restrictions apply to those whose property lies within the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department's service area. If you receive your water bill from a different agency, please check with that agency regarding any applicable water use restrictions.

Report Water Waste

Do you notice water being wasted, such as irrigation water running down the street, broken or misdirected sprinklers watering pavement or watering in the middle of the day? San Diego residents are encouraged to report water waste by:

  • Submitting complaints via the City's Get It Done app (photo and video submissions of violations are encouraged), or
  • Emailing with information, including description and address.

If over-irrigation reaches the storm drain (gutter, street or storm drain inlet) the City's Stormwater Enforcement Team will respond. Learn more at the Stormwater website. All other water waste concerns will be addressed by the City’s Water Waste team.

For other questions or concerns, call 619-515-3500 or email