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San Diego water use down 4.4%, report says

James Palen, SAN DIEGO DAILY TRANSCRIPT

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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A report from the National University System Institute for Policy Research was also released Tuesday, which attempted to put effects of the drought into context for businesses.
The study found that on average, nonagricultural private-sector businesses in San Diego County use more than 54,000 gallons of water for each employee on their payroll, and that water restrictions are unlikely to have a regionwide economic impact.
San Diego's key industries affecting its gross domestic product, the report noted, largely use water for noncore business functions. This means water restrictions and cutbacks could become "inconveniences" rather than hardships that could affect bottom lines.
There were exceptions, though, such as the region's 10,000-worker agricultural industry and four other "water-intensive" industries that employ more than 37,000 workers.
Erik Bruvold, president of National University’s institute, said the data show that businesses are already using water efficiently.
Further restrictions wouldn't hurt employment, he said.
"Restrictions are likely to be felt among a handful of industries that use water in core processes," Bruvold said.
"First among these will be agriculture, but we could see negative impacts on a half-dozen other industries based upon this data,” he said.
The county’s agriculture industry uses more than 33 times the amount of water used by the average business but accounts for less than 1 percent of the county's private sector workforce, and less than a half-percent of the county's gross domestic product.
The four water-intensive industries that would face the next-greatest amount of risk include brewers and soft drink bottlers, dry cleaners and laundry services, food manufacturers, and construction firms, each of which uses more than twice the amount of water used by the average business.
San Diego's high-tech and life science industries also drew mention in the report. Together they employ 123,799 workers and use 45 percent more water on a per-employee basis than the rest of the region's private sector.