Water restrictions will have lasting impact
The past four years have been the driest on record in California, leading Governor Jerry Brown to order mandatory water reductions by 25 percent or more for the first time in the state’s history.
Recognizing the severity of the situation, and seeking enforcement power, Claremont City Manager Tony Ramos declared a Level 2 water supply shortage on April 23 as outlined in the city’s water ordinance. The declaration was in response to the governor’s executive order and the State Water Control Resources Board, who collectively issued water restrictions this month. The water board is calling on all water agencies to restrict watering to no more than two days a week and to make all 2014 restrictions not just recommended but mandatory.
On April 28, the Claremont City Council unanimously affirmed Mr. Ramos’ declaration, finding sufficient reason to declare the water supply shortage and allowing the city to issue citations for water-wasting behavior. The council also instructed city staff to implement additional water conservation measures for the city in an effort to meet the 32 percent water reduction set for Claremont.
The following water restrictions begin on Monday, May 11:
• Watering or irrigating lawn, landscaping or other vegetated area, with potable water is limited to two days per week. Houses with addresses ending in even numbers will be allowed to water on Monday and Thursday. Houses with addresses ending in odd numbers will be allowed to water Tuesday and Friday.
• The restrictions do not apply to drip systems or hand-watering with a hose outfitted with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
• All leaks, breaks or other malfunctions must be repaired within 48 hours of notification.
• Using water to wash vehicles is prohibited except by use of bucket, hand-held hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle, high pressure/low volume wash system or at a commercial car wash that utilizes re-circulated water.
• Refilling pools or outdoor spas more than one foot and initial filling of pools is prohibited.
According to the city’s website, Level 2 conservation measures are in addition to the city’s permanent requirements, which include no outdoor watering between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and no washing down hard or paved surfaces. Residents may not water more than 15 minutes per day per watering station. Watering in a manner that causes runoff or excessive water to flow onto adjoining hardscape or surfaces, like sidewalks or walkways, is also prohibited.
Reporting water waste and enforcement
Did you spot a water leak or see someone wasting water in town? State regulations require water suppliers to be the point of contact for water waste reporting and further requires that those agencies report water waste activity to the state. Golden State Water Company remains the city’s water supplier and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-999-4033 or online at www.gswater.com/report-water-waste.
A Golden State employee will verify the condition and make contact with the offender in an attempt to get voluntary compliance with regulations. Should compliance not be achieved, GSW will report the activity to Claremont’s code enforcement department, which will issue citations with penalties up to $500 per day. Golden State is subject to a civil liability of up to $10,000 a day should it violate cease and desist orders, according to the state water board.
Landscape replacement and other resources
In the governor’s executive order, government agencies have been directed to implement statewide assistance programs to provide monetary incentives for the replacing water-wasteful devices and of lawns although the details have not yet been released.
In the meantime, Golden State partners with Three Valleys Municipal Water District and the Metropolitan Water District to provide customers with rebates for water-efficient appliances as well as a turf rebate program. The turf rebate program provides residents with $2 or more per square foot of turf removed. To qualify, the homeowner must have grass in the proposed project area and install a new landscape that meets the terms and conditions for the city. Interested residents may apply at www.socalwatersmart.com.
If you’ve got landscaping that has been deemed a fire hazard by the city or LA County Fire, the Housing Rehabilitation Program may be an option. Funded by the city’s Community Development Block Grant, the program is available for landscape retrofit projects in conjunction with other repair work. However, funding is limited and the program currently has a one-year waitlist.
The Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) imposed on Claremont residents by Golden State Water Company has been a point of contention for many residents who have reduced their water consumption, but have not seen a reduction in their bills. The WRAM will continue during this time of required reductions in water usage. However, according to Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor, the city of Claremont has sent a letter to Governor Brown asking him to require Golden State Water to suspend this practice during the water emergency.
The city will begin a two-day-a-week watering schedule on Tuesdays and Fridays only in all parks, shut off irrigation to Padua Park slopes, eliminate the summer turf rehabilitation program for sports fields and cease irrigating the Larkin Park soccer fields. Water bags are being used for city trees in the Village and residents are encouraged to deep-water their own trees to ensure tree health during the drought.
The turf and parkways outside Claremont City Hall and at Shelton Park will no longer be irrigated in anticipation of a turf-reduction landscaping project scheduled to begin this summer, and watering at the Hughes Center, the Depot, Oak Park Cemetery and parkways will be reduced to two days a week.
Turf will be removed from medians at Foothill Boulevard, Indian Hill and First Street and the irrigation systems will be retrofitted to give appropriate water to the trees that remain.
The city’s wading pool program, one season of which equates to the annual water usage of three households, will be suspended and city fountains will be turned off.
Water-related activities will also be eliminated during city events, including the dunk tank and water slides at the Fourth of July celebration. City staff, in conjunction with the Independence Day Committee, has also proposed an alternative to the fireworks show that will reduce the amount of water needed to combat the ashy debris of the fireworks fallout. The proposed alternative will be presented to city council at a meeting on May 12.
The restrictions imposed on Claremont residents target outside water use and a special page entitled “Drought Information” has been developed on the city’s website to direct residents to resources and offer tips on reducing water usage.
To learn more about the state’s response to the drought, visit www.ca.gov/drought. For more on local rules, visit www.ci.claremont.ca.us.