Drought: Cal Water lists restrictions on water use


The California Water Service Company has a list of restrictions on water use during the drought, but doesn't have a final plan for how those restrictions will be enforced.

Dawn Smithson, local Cal Water manager, said the company will soon finalize enforcement measures for repeat violations. Those measures could include cutting off service, adding flow restrictors, or turning the cases over to other agencies such as police or code enforcement.

Cal Water says the following uses are no longer permitted:

● Excessive use of water when a utility has notified a customer in writing to repair broken or defective plumbing, sprinklers, watering or irrigation systems, and the customer has failed to make such repairs within five business days.

● Use of water that results in flooding or run-off in gutters or streets.

● Washing of vehicles except with the use of equipment (such as a positive-action shut-off nozzle) that avoids wasteful use, or to protect the health and safety of the public.

● Use of water for washing driveways, patios, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas, except when necessary to protect the health and safety of the public.

● Use of water for street cleaning with trucks, except for initial wash-down for construction purposes (if street sweeping is not feasible), or to protect the health and safety of the public.

● Use of water for construction purposes, such as consolidation of backfill, dust control, or other uses unless no other method can be used.

● Use of water for filling or refilling decorative lakes or ponds unless necessary to sustain aquatic life.

● Use of water for decorative fountains unless the fountain utilizes a recirculation system, such as an electric pump.

● Use of water for the filling or refilling of swimming pools, except as required by a government agency.

● Service of water by any restaurant except upon the request of the patron.

Ms. Smithson said that while Cal Water does not have the authority to issue fines, wasting water under the regulations issued in July by the State Water Resources Control Board is considered a criminal infraction. Cal Water's regulations include all the state water board restrictions as well as additional unauthorized uses of water.


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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm

These restrictions are pretty silly; basically, they are "conservation theater".

What should we do if we really need to save water? Raise the price!

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Posted by Busybody
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Is there any way to report a water waster to Cal Water? There's a business downtown that faithfully waters the sidewalk every morning, and mentioning it the front desk never seems to help!

1 person likes this
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

Given that agriculture is responsible for consuming over 80% of the state's water, and that there are close to 1000 golf courses in the state, asking residents (10% of all water consumption) to be even more frugal seems grossly inequitable. For example, we grow rice -- among the most water intensive crops -- in the desert! Why, because agriculture has access to the cheapest water of all of us.

Furthermore, the state, from the governor on down, has not made water access, creation (desalination) and distribution the highest state priority, while continuing to promote the most expensive infrastructure project ever on the books (over $100 billion) for high-speed rail.

Yes, as commentor Joseph E. Davis says, it's all political theatre.

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Posted by grizzled-oldtimer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 25, 2014 at 11:31 am

Has anyone informed Atherton residents there is a drought?
We are off El Camino, and except for a few people that have replaced grass with drought resistant plants, there are still homeowners that run their sprinklers for their lawns twice a day. Peek a boo we see you folks who set their automatic sprinkler systems to run after dark, and douse the sidewalks and gutters with wasted water from their lawn watering.

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Posted by lil' farmer
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 25, 2014 at 11:32 am

Martin: yeah, the rice thing is beyond absurd. Grow rice in the south, or anywhere they get rain weekly.

Super cheap water to Big Ag is a joke. On all of us: small ag, and urban users.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 25, 2014 at 7:03 pm

I'm looking forward to seeing all those dry, brown golf courses. I wonder how long I'll have to wait?

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Posted by grizzled-oldtimer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm

[Portion removed. Please discuss the topic without reference to another poster.] Is it fair to arrest some gammy washing down her edsel or mercedes once a month while some other resident floods the gutter and sidewalks daily? Maybe there should be a citizens corp that films and reports water wasters to Cal Water, if they actually would do anything.

1 person likes this
Posted by rick
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I concur with the comments by Martin Engel.

As always, he put this in the right perspective. Every little bit helps, and we are trying to conserve, but our saving is a drop in the bucket (pun intended).

I find it hard to take our local savings seriously until they focus on the big water users.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I have heard on the radio that since the last really severe drought in the late 1970's, California's population has doubled and our agricultural output has also more than doubled in cash value from 1993 (the earliest statistics I could find from the State). So, with over double the population and over double the agricultural output it would stand to reason that the water supply should have also grown so that we can more easily weather our periodic dry years. However, water storage and water supply has not increased proportionally to demand since the 1970s. So, we are here today feeling pressure to conserve, feeling pressure to protect our over 44 Billion dollar agriculture economy, and feeling pressure to release enough water to sustain our fisheries. I have also learned that droughts in California have gone on for decades. From a January Mercury News article: "Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years -- compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years."

Seems like some serious work on water storage and water supply are in order. Conservation cannot compensate for extended droughts without causing damage to our agricultural economic activity and our fisheries.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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