We’re beginning to see more restrictions of water use from the state as the ongoing drought enters its fourth year. On March 20, 2015 the State Water Resources Control Board mandated that urban water agencies adopt new rules on outdoor watering and cautioned that it may consider “more significant” actions in weeks to come. The Board’s decision came after a report on the drought, which stated that as of mid-March, the amount of water expected from snow melt is just 13% of average– lower than the same period during the state’s record-breaking drought of 1977.
“We are experiencing the lowest snowpack and the driest January in recorded history, and communities around the state are already suffering severely from the prior three years of drought,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “If the drought continues through next winter and we do not conserve more, the consequences could be even more catastrophic than they already are. Today’s action is just a tune-up and a reminder to act, and we will consider more significant actions in the weeks to come.”
The new emergency regulations require water agencies to report to the State Board on current conservation enforcement efforts as well as the number of days per week they allow outdoor irrigation. The regulation also mandates that urban water suppliers limit outdoor irrigation to two days a week (if they haven’t already). While the irrigation limit applies only to customers of local water utilities, other restrictions apply to all users including those with private wells and renters who don’t receive water bills. Basically, all Californians must abide by the new regulations or face stiff fines of $500 per violation.
Here are some highlights of the new requirements:
- Requires all water suppliers that do not already have an existing limit on the number of days that outdoor watering is allowed, to limit outdoor irrigation of turf or ornamental landscapes to no more than two days per week.
- Prohibits irrigation of turf or ornamental landscapes during and 48-hours following “measurable precipitation”.
- Prohibits outdoor watering that causes water to flow onto sidewalks, roads or neighboring properties.
- Prohibits hosing down sidewalks or driveways.
- Prohibits washing cars without a shut-off nozzle attached to the hose.
- Requires that water only be served on request in restaurants and bars
- Requiring the operators of hotels and motels to offer patrons the option of not having their towels and linens washed each day of their stay.
The state is currently experiencing its fourth year of drought. In January 2014, Governor Jerry Brown called on all Californians to cut back on water use by 20% and mid-county residents heeded the call. While our local water supply issues are related to long-term overdraft and seawater intrusion, the current drought makes them worse by limiting groundwater recharge from rain. With little to no rain recharge over the past couple years, all the pumping in the basin becomes deficit pumping so whatever each of us can do to minimize use is extremely important. As a matter of fact, if mid-county residents will make their current efforts a way of life, it would go a long way towards addressing our historic problem. Here are some frequently asked questions about the new rules:
Does the 2-day per week irrigation restriction apply to drip systems?
Yes. The 2-day per week restriction is for all potable water used to irrigate ornamental landscapes and turf.
What days of the week am I supposed to water?
We are working on developing a watering schedule based on odd-and-even addresses. Please visit the District website for more information: www.soquelcreekwater.org
I am on a private well; do the drought regulations apply to me?
The restrictions against water waste apply to all Californians. The Soquel Creek Water District account holder is responsible for compliance with the 2-day per week restriction on irrigation.
I think that the new State restrictions are unreasonable or would create an undue hardship for me. What can I do?
Compliance with the State of California emergency drought regulations are mandatory and failure to comply can result in penalties and fines. The state has not yet addressed unreasonableness or hardship. Our local region has done an exceptional job at water savings. If you need assistance at your home or business on ways to conserve more water, please contact the District office to schedule a free water wise house call for your home or business.
For more information on the drought and actual new regulations, please visit the State Water Resources Control Board website at www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights