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Drought watering restrictions are now in effect

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Last month the Claremont City Council voted to reaffirm the critical water shortage facing the region. In response, the council enacted an urgency ordinance mandating each household in the city limit outdoor irrigation to one day per week and reduce overall water consumption by 20%.

The one-day-per-week watering for above ground sprinkler systems is mainly focused on reducing the irrigation of turf. Residents whose address ends in an even number can run the sprinklers on Mondays, and those with an odd number can do so on Wednesdays. Drip systems and hand watering of trees are exempt, however, all watering must be done either before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

Washing down hard surfaces, washing vehicles without a shut off valve and runoff onto sidewalks are prohibited. Additionally leaks, system malfunctions and pipe breaks must be repaired in 48 hours.

This action was necessary because Claremont receives 45% of its water from the State Water Project and must therefore conform to the rules handed down from Metropolitan Water District.
The watering schedule of Mondays and Wednesdays was devised to give city officials an easy way to monitor whether residents are conforming to the one-day-per-week restriction.

Golden State Water Company can impose fees for going over allotment or install a flow restrictor, but cannot issue citations. Claremont is the agency with the legal authority to cite individuals who waste water.

Once a household has been identified as not conforming to the conservation effort, the first step will be an educational approach with Golden State making contact to attempt to achieve compliance voluntarily. The water company will try the education approach several times before handing the problem off to the city.

At that point, it will be reported to code enforcement, which will begin the enforcement process. This could include issuing infractions with penalties of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $500 for the third.

Should the severity of the situation warrant, Claremont municipal code allows violators of water conservation requirements to be enforced by the Claremont Police Department and prosecuted as a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail or a $1,000 fine or both.

Golden State Water Company’s Foothill District Manager Ben Lewis said during the water restrictions in 2015 customers responded very well to the education process and no citations were issued.

Golden State sent a letter last month to help customers understand the new restrictions and assist them in calculating the target amount of water that must be conserved. To arrive at the new allotment, the company used each household’s 2020 monthly water usage as a baseline and deducted 20%. For example, if a homeowner used 12 centum cubic feet of water in June of 2020, they will be asked to reduce their usage to about 10 CCF in June of this year.

Customers who moved to Claremont in 2021 or 2022 can get a waiver from Golden State and will not be constrained to the water usage of the previous occupant of the home. Waivers are also available to residents who believe they have cut back as much water usage as possible and to help those with new landscape preserve their investment as long as it’s not turf.

Additionally people who live in critical fire zones, near the foothills or the wash at the eastern border of town, are exempt from the one day per week restrictions.

Waiver requests must go through Golden State customer service at (909) 592-4271.
The city also must reduce its water usage by 20%, which it planned to achieve by shutting off irrigation to the slopes at Padua Park, reducing watering of ornamental turf to one day per week, eliminating summer turf rehabilitation program and implementing a 20% to 30% reduction in watering sport fields.

The city will continue to identify turf reduction projects and install new water efficient irrigation systems.

Since the 2015 drought, the city removed 6.5 acres of turf from medians, rights of way and parks and replaced it with drought tolerant plants, according to Community Services Director Jeremy Swan. Drip irrigation systems were installed in medians, parks and facilities and smart irrigation controllers were installed that adjust watering based on weather conditions.

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