After being named one of the most successful cities in California at curbing water use last year, Menlo Park is relaxing some of its water conservation restrictions.
These changes, approved by the City Council on June 21, come after water conservation restrictions, including a mandatory statewide 25 percent water-use reduction from 2013 levels, were loosened at the state level.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has asked the Bay Area utilities that receive its water, including the Menlo Park Municipal Water District, to cut use by 10 percent from 2013 levels.
Customers of the municipal water district are again allowed to water their landscaping more often than two days a week and between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those who have built new pools can now fill them with water.
Other drought-related rules will stick.
Muni customers still cannot hose sidewalks, driveways or street medians, wash cars with hoses that don't have a shut-off nozzle, or have fountains that don't re-circulate water.
They are not allowed to water their property within 48 hours of rain or in a way that creates runoff. Hotels and motels have to make daily linen and towel laundering services optional, and restaurants and other food service spots must serve water only upon request.
Residents are expected to fix broken or defective plumbing within a "reasonable" time and keep pools covered. Certain inefficient cooling systems in new buildings are not allowed.
As of July 1, drought surcharges dropped to 18 cents from 29 cents per 748 gallons used.
Programs in Menlo Park that encourage water conservation will continue.
The "Lawn Be Gone" program offers residents up to $2 per square foot to convert lawns to more water-efficient landscaping. "Conserve-A-Scape" is a city-subsidized program that offers residents a customized drought-tolerant design and consultation with a professional landscape architect.
"Waterfluence," another city funded program, provides automated water-use auditing to the city's top 101 water users.
The Menlo Park Municipal Water District provides water to about 16,000 residents. In March, it was recognized for registering the highest cumulative water savings in California between June and August 2015, cutting its water use 47 percent below 2013 levels, and far surpassing the 16 percent reduction target set for the district. Overall, the district has reduced water use 38 percent compared to 2013 levels, according to city staff.