State sets new water restrictions for urban areas


California's State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously Tuesday to impose new mandatory restrictions on urban water use as the state enters its fourth year of drought.

The state's drought could become even more dire as the year goes on. Little relief is expected entering the typically dry spring and summer months, and Sierra snowpack is only at around 20 percent of average.

While most urban water agencies have placed their own restrictions, water board members said Tuesday, March 17, that those steps have not gone far enough and there is little consistency between agencies.

"Urban agencies have not stepped up as much as they should be stepping up," state water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said at Tuesday's meeting.

The restrictions passed Tuesday include prohibition on landscape irrigation during the 48 hours following measurable precipitation and calls on water agencies to set a limit on the number of days per week landscapes can be watered.

If any jurisdictions fail to set a weekly limit on watering landscapes, the limit will be automatically set at two days per week when the new regulations take effect.

The restrictions on landscape watering came under fire particularly from people running golf courses. Many golf course representatives said they thought they could bring water usage down without limiting how many days they irrigate.

"It's achievable, it's doable, it's what the industry wants to do, we do need a little flexibility," Ron Zraick, the general manager at San Jose's Cinnabar Hills Golf Club and president of the California Golf Course Owners Association, said at the meeting.

He said his golf course has achieved water reductions of nearly 25 percent and has a great relationship with the local water district.

The new regulations do allow for allocation-based rate structures, board adviser Max Gomberg said.

In addition to placing new restrictions on landscape irrigation, the regulations passed Tuesday require restaurants to only provide drinking water on request and hotels to give guests an option to not have their towels and linens laundered daily.

The new restrictions extend and broaden restrictions set last year with the goal of a 20 percent reduction in water usage from 2013 to 2014.

The continuing restrictions include prohibiting washing down sidewalks and driveways with potable water, watering outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes excess runoff, washing cars without using an automatic shut-off nozzle, and operating a fountain without a recirculating water system.

While the state has saved 146 billion gallons of water since June, the state must continue saving water in any way possible, Gomberg said. The board pledged to look into passing even stricter and permanent restrictions in the coming months.

— Bay City News Service

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1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 19, 2015 at 3:57 pm

What we should do is stop messing around with these pointless and absurd regulations that make bureaucrats and the poorly informed feel good but do little to address the problem of scarce water. Instead, we should simply charge more for water during droughts.

It's not clear to me why this simple solution is beyond the capabilities of the government of the great state of California, but apparently it is.

1 person likes this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm

really? is a registered user.

The great analogy is to imagine that we're all standing around a bathtub with blindfold on, each with our own straw drinking our of the bathtub. We can't see how many others are drinking, we can see how big their straws are, and we have no idea how big the bathtub is and how quickly it's being refilled. We have people telling us this, and to suck less hard, but you can't individually take control of this situation. Legislation and state gonvernment intervention is the only solution to this problem, and they need to act boldly and aggressively.

Raising prices to a commodity that we can't do without only means that the rich get lawns and the poor stop bathing. Start pricing water for farmland like they do for urban areas, and that will be a real change.

1 person likes this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Water costs about half a cent per gallon at the moment. If we doubled the price of water, the poor would have to pay an entire cent per gallon. Imagine the deprivation and suffering that would result!

Most of the problem here is that water is far too cheap, at least for certain favored classes (like farmers).

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

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