Are you still unclear about water restrictions?

by Steven Felschundneff |

There remains a fair amount of confusion about the mandatory water restrictions imposed following the city’s declaration of a level two water supply shortage.

To reduce demand and forestall greater restrictions, as of June 1, outdoor watering of landscaping is limited to once per week for just eight minutes per station. In addition, every household will have to cut back overall water usage by 20%.

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

Perhaps the most common question Claremonters have voiced: who qualifies for an exemption from the one-day-per-week watering schedule?

The once per week restriction is focused on sprinkler irrigation of grass lawns, but could also include other types of broadcast watering. Low flow drip systems in which the emitter is close to the ground and focused on the root system can remain on a multi-day schedule. Residents are also allowed to continue to hand water their trees, vegetable and fruit gardens and perennials. However, all watering must be done either before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

Properties identified by Cal Fire to be in a severe high fire zone are also exempt from the once per week schedule. The neighborhoods affected by this exception are, not surprisingly, those located in our foothills, such as Claraboya and homes adjacent to Thompson Creek Trail.

The exemption also applies to many but not all properties east of Padua Avenue; those west of Mills and south of Pomello; homes adjacent to the Mills Avenue entrance of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park; the neighborhoods around Appalachian; approximately one square block north of Base Line Road and west of Padua; portions of the Pitzer Ranch development; about a dozen properties south of Base Line and East of Towne Avenue; four properties south of E. College Way; and a strip of commercial properties adjacent to Foothill and Claremont boulevards including portions of Pitzer and Claremont McKenna colleges.

The Cal Fire map of Claremont can be downloaded here: Very High Fire Severity Zones

Ratepayers in the severe high fire zone do not get a free pass on all of the restrictions, and still must reduce overall water usage by 20%.

Those who live in the unincorporated areas of Claremont are not bound by the city’s water shortage resolution, so they may irrigate more than once a week. However, they must reduce total usage by 20%.

Each resident’s monthly allocation will be based on that property’s water usage in 2020. Golden State Water has an appeal process for customers who are “new to Claremont or have had significant changes in living conditions or landscaping since 2020.”

Golden State Water Company’s Foothill District Manager Ben Lewis told the COURIER last month that his company will work with customers who, for example, have always been conservative with their water usage and will have a difficult time cutting back further. Also, no ratepayer will be asked to go below eight CCFs per month.

Customers can also qualify for an exemption if they recently installed new landscaping as long as it’s not turf.

To request an exemption visit the appeals page.

Since 2015, when Claremont residents last had water restrictions, the city has replaced about 6.5 acres of turf with drought tolerant plantings on medians, rights of way and most significantly, parks. This week a sharp-eyed reader called the COURIER to report that workers were laying down new turf at El Barrio Park.

The work at the park is part of a renovation funded through an agreement with Claremont McKenna College which includes “a new pedestrian walkway, safety lighting, landscaping, and installation of additional picnic tables, benches, and trash receptacles.”

Public Information Officer Bevin Handel said the turf being installed at El Barrio is a variety of Bermuda grass called TifSport which is drought tolerant and ultra-hardy and which uses a third of the watering compared with the previous turf.

“The direction/clarification from the State Water Boards on ornamental versus ‘functional’ turf allows for the watering of turf used for recreational and sports activities. The sports fields and fields used for recreational activities are still subject to a 20% reduction in usage under [Metropolitan Water District]. The City is reducing overall water usage at all our parks and going down to one day a week watering for ornamental turf. The turf at El Barrio is used for soccer and other recreational activities,” Handel said.

Sue Schenk, president of the Claremont Garden Club, provided some advice last month for keeping one’s garden alive during mandatory restrictions.

She recommends turning off the lawn’s automatic sprinkler system and watering it by hand, noting that established turf probably will do fine with once a week irrigation.

“Water trees deeply in the entire area out to the edge of their canopy every three to four weeks,” Schenk said.

Finally, the state requires water suppliers to be the point of contact for people reporting water wasters. Anyone who spots water being wasted is encouraged to call Golden State Water 24 hours a day at 1-800-999-4033. Or on their website: Report Water Waste.

For other areas of the garden, water completely about once a week and then cover with a few inches of mulch to keep the area from drying out and stressing the plants. In addition, convert as much overhead watering to drip or soaker hose irrigation as possible.

Build up a short ring of soil or mulch around shrubs and other plants that might suffer from the heat and dryness. Hand water this ring basin whenever plants look stressed, start to wilt or look grayish rather than their usual green.




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