Local residents will see increased water restrictions
Governor imposes unprecedented mandatory water-use reduction
In response to the state’s lowest snowpack ever recorded and the drought continuing, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday first-ever mandatory statewide water reduction actions. One mandate is that there be a 25 percent reduction of water use for the entire state. Last year, the governor proclaimed a drought state of emergency, which resulted in state, regional and local governmental agencies taking steps to reduce water usage. Brown called for all residents to, “conserve water in every way possible.”
“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow,” Brown said at the snow-bare Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “This historic drought demands unprecedented action. Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”
In Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County, one of the hardest hit areas of the state, the discussion of water usage and how to deal with the continuing drought has been at the forefront of many local decisions. Recently, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved an ag water offset ordinance that would require all new planting requiring water to be equally offset to not increase overall water usage for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.
All cities and towns in California will be mandated to reduce water consumption by 25 percent, which would result in approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.
The city of Paso Robles enacted Level 2 water use restrictions in May 2014, which meant that the city needed to reduce overall water demand by 20 percent. To do that, the city put mandatory outdoor water restrictions in effect, where residents could only water their lawns three days a week between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Other water restrictions include prohibiting excessive water runoff, only washing cars with a bucket and water shutoff nozzle and prohibiting washing paved surfacing, except under certain conditions. To see the watering zone map, which is still in effect, click here.
“We’ll need to comply with the state’s [mandate],” Paso Robles Water Conservation and Resources Program Manager Kirk Gonzales said, adding that whatever restrictions the governor mandates, the city will put into action. Since the mandate was issued Wednesday, city staff is still working on what that will look like for Paso Robles.
Paso Robles residents have already significantly reduced their water usage over the past several years. From 2007 to 2014 city residents reduced usage by 2.5 million gallons per day. See related article: Local water usage down by a million gallons per day.
The governor’s order will also:
- Replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments
- Direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy-efficient models
- Require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use
- Prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians
The governor’s order calls for local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing. According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, agricultural water users have borne the brunt of the drought and will be required to report more water use information to state regulators, which will increase the state’s ability to enforce illegal diversions, waste and unreasonable water usage.
To read the full text of the order, click here.
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