City to Call For 30 Percent Water Conservation Measures

water-central-parkIn the City Newsletter that was emailed to the public on Thursday, the city reports, “The Governor and State Water Resources Control Board enacted emergency regulations to promote further water conservation. The regulations require urban water agencies to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plans. In Davis, this would represent a Stage 3 water shortage emergency and calls for a mandatory reduction of 30%.”

The council has the item agendized for Tuesday’s council meeting. Staff recommends the council approve a resolution that would adopt mandatory water use restrictions.

These restrictions would be effective immediately and would limit watering to three days per week, require leaks be repaired within 72 hours, in addition to other water prohibitions.

These include:

  • No watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except with a hand-held container or hose with a shut-off nozzle, or for very short periods when adjusting a sprinkler system;
  • Outdoor watering is restricted to three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for premises with odd numbered addresses and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for premises with even numbered addresses. No outdoor watering on Monday;
  • No watering during periods of rain;
  • No excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or ditches from watering or irrigating landscapes or vegetation of any kind;
  • No washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation, in which case a bucket, a hose with a shut-off nozzle, a cleaning machine that recycles water or a low-volume/high-pressure water broom must be used;
  • All property owners must fix leaks, breaks or malfunctions when they find them, or within 72 hours of receiving a notice from the city of Davis;
  • Fountains and water features must have a re-circulating water system;
  • Vehicles must be washed with a hand-held bucket and/or hose equipped with a water shut-off nozzle (does not apply to commercial car washes);
  • Restaurants may not serve drinking water unless by patron’s request;
  • Restaurants must use water-saving dish wash spray valves;
  • No installation of non-recirculating water systems at new commercial car washes and laundry systems; and
  • Hotels and motels must give guests the option to decline daily bed linen and towel changes.

Staff notes, “Enforcement will be handled in the same manner as we currently handle similar violations.”

“City water crews have door hangers which they use to inform a resident/property owner if there is a known issue, and these are generally used for first-time violations in the hopes of educating,” staff writes. “Properties with multiple or repeat complaints will receive a letter or email outlining the problem and the expected action. Finally, code compliance staff will be deployed if a problem persists.”

Back in February, following the governor’s drought proclamation, the city passed a resolution that called for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water usage. The result of that voluntary reduction was a 14 percent reduction in water use from January to June over the same period in 2013.

On April 25, 2014, the governor issued a proclamation of a continued state of emergency under the California Emergency Services Act based on continued drought conditions. On July 28, 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board enacted emergency regulations to promote further conservation.

According to city staff, the plan imposes “mandatory restrictions on outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes or turf,” and this would represent “a Stage 3 Water Shortage emergency, which imposes mandatory water use restrictions, including limits on outside irrigation, to achieve a 30% reduction.”

Staff continues, “The State Water Resources Control Board emergency regulations also prohibit individuals from using potable water to wash driveways and sidewalks; water outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; wash a car with a hose without a shut-off nozzle; or operate a fountain or other decorative water feature.”

“Excess runoff includes situations where water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures. Violations are punishable by an infraction and up to a $500 fine for each day a violation occurs,” staff reports.

“The City of Davis has experienced a 54 feet drop in average water levels in their municipal wells since March 2014. This drop in static water levels in the City’s wells is seasonal and reflects the high demand on groundwater in this region of Yolo County and the impact of the ongoing drought in California,” staff writes. “Such a drop in water levels constitutes an average depth to water levels in the city of almost 100-feet-below ground level and is an event stipulated in the City’s Urban Water Management Plan to trigger water conservation.”

Last week the city reported that Davis municipal well water levels have dropped 10 feet since 2008. This year, the March to July 2014 well water levels dropped an average of 54 feet. A drop in water levels is typical in late summer. However, in the same period in 2013, wells dropped only 49 feet.

“This year’s drop in static water levels in the city’s wells is concerning and reflects the high demand on groundwater in this region of Yolo County, coupled with the impact of the ongoing drought in California,” states the City’s General Manager of Utilities, Herb Niederberger, “Such a drop in water levels triggers water conservation as stipulated in the City’s Urban Water Management Plan.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 thoughts on “City to Call For 30 Percent Water Conservation Measures”

  1. WesC

    Does this restriction include all city land including parks and greenbelts? I would hope this also means that the city will let our greenbelts and parks become brownbelts.

    1. Matt Williams

      The City’s records indicate that total water production for the time period of Jan-Jun 2014 is 14% below production over the same time period in 2013.

      The above quote is from the Staff Report for Item 5 in the 9/2/2014 Council meeting. That doesn’t make it explicit, but it certainly implies that the comparison is to the same period in 2013.

      With that said, it is worth noting that 2013 water consumption in Davis was 14% above the water consumption in 2011. So the Jan-Jun 2014 reduction only gets us back to what we have a history of using in 2011, which would qualify as the “before the drought” number.

        1. Matt Williams

          HP, those words are only used in providing the anecdotal reference to what our current consumption is. Applying that same basis of comparison to the recommendation is an assumption … a good assumption, but an assumption nonetheless.

  2. Tia Will

    WesC

    “I would hope this also means that the city will let our greenbelts and parks become brown belts.”

    I am unclear about your reasoning behind this statement. Can you clarify ?

    1. WesC

      I think that conceptually the idea that we are in a severe drought and serious conservation efforts are needed probably does not sink in for a lot of people when you go for a walk or ride through our parks and greenbelts and see nothing but lush green landscaping all around you and lots of sprinkler heads gushing some pretty significant amounts of water around.

      That is not to say that I think we should let all of or parks/greenbelts go brown, but there are certainly areas that receive very little use and letting those go brown could probably save quite a bit of water.

      1. Don Shor

        It would be easy to reduce the irrigated greenbelt areas in a systematic way, retaining the high-use areas for turf and relandscaping the less-used areas into low-water plants, bark, and hardscape. There would be some upfront costs associated with that. But I am told that the city manager mandated and implemented a significant reduction of watering — 30 – 40% — throughout the city’s landscaped areas and you can see the results.

  3. Barack Palin

    This has come up before, as a community Davis already conserves more than most other communities. Will this be factored in or will Davis residents that have already cut back be hit with another 30% cutback?

    1. darelldd

      Speaking of “factored in”…. 10 years ago I began removing lawn, and I have about 100 sq feet left. I water it at a rate of about 1/5 of “recommended.” Last year I paid thousand$ for, spent untold hours of my time and had permitted, a grey water system for irrigation. I won’t bore you with the rest of my conservation measures….My household uses less than 50% of the water used by Davis homes in the “low water use” category.

      There’s quite little chance that I’ll be able to cut back significantly from where I am now, though the remaining bit of lawn is next on the chopping block. I already use less than 1/10th of what our house and landscaping was using when we moved in. If we ever move to a “per person” reduction, and “last year” is the comparison period, I’m screwed.

      1. Matt Williams

        darell, the Staff Report includes the following recommendation. I don’t think you have much chance of violating any of those provisions.

        Staff is recommending that the City Council approve the attached Resolution specifically stating how our City is responding to the drought. Staff recommends that the City Council consider a resolution adopting mandatory water use restrictions consistent with the SWRCB emergency regulations and the City’s Urban Water Management Plan. This would establish mandatory water waste restrictions, effective immediately, that limits watering to three days per week and requires that leaks be repaired within 72 hours, in addition to other water waste prohibitions.

        — No watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except with a hand-held container or hose with a shut-off nozzle, or for very short periods when adjusting a sprinkler system;

        — Outdoor watering is restricted to three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for premises with odd numbered addresses and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for premises with even numbered addresses. No outdoor watering on Monday;

        — No watering during periods of rain;

        — No excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or ditches from watering or irrigating landscapes or vegetation of any kind;

        — No washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation, in which case a bucket, a hose with a shut-off nozzle, a cleaning machine that recycles water or a low-volume/high-pressure water broom must be used;

        — All property owners must fix leaks, breaks or malfunctions when they find them, or within 72 hours of receiving a notice from the city of Davis;
        Fountains and water features must have a re-circulating water system;

        — Vehicles must be washed with a hand-held bucket and/or hose equipped with a water shut-off nozzle (does not apply to commercial car washes);

        — Restaurants may not serve drinking water unless by patron’s request; Restaurants must use water-saving dish wash spray valves;

        — No installation of non-recirculating water systems at new commercial car washes and laundry systems; and

        — Hotels and motels must give guests the option to decline daily bed linen and towel changes.

        Enforcement will be handled in the same manner as we currently handle similar violations. City water crews have door hangers which they use to inform a resident/property owner if there is a known issue, and these are generally used for first-time violations in the hopes of educating. Properties with multiple or repeat complaints will receive a letter or email outlining the problem and the expected action. Finally, code compliance staff will be deployed if a problem persists.

  4. Tia Will

    BP

    “as a community Davis already conserves more than most other communities. ”

    Do you have information to support this statement ? I have no idea how to begin to approach confirming or denying .
    I don’t even know where to start on Google !

  5. Barack Palin

    So is this new 30% conservation measure, which is on top of the supposed 20% conservation already built into our water rates, going to kick us in to the drought penalty rates?

  6. Alan Pryor

    If anyone cares to pour through old NRC Agenda packets from the past 2 years to find the Water Resources Conservation Plan documentation, there are average annual uses reported for local cities for different end-users. From my recollection, Davis Sacramento, and Woodland single family homes all used about the same amount of water in 2012-2013. The per capita usage in Davis was much lower however, ~165 gpd vs ~200+gpd, because our business usage is so much less than those communities with a larger number of business water users.

  7. Barbara King

    Ewwww. Recirculating water in a new laundry system? Is that sanitary? Would the reciruculating system also do disinfecting? Recirculated water in a car wash is one thing, but the water people wash their clothes in should not be loaded with whatever microscopic ickiness is left from other people’s laundry.

  8. Barbara King

    Sacramento and some cities in Texas exempt drip irrigation from their regulations. I don’t see such an exemption in the material for next week’s agenda item on water conservation. Does such an exemption exist somewhere in Davis’ municipal code? If not, I think it should added.

    1. DavisBurns

      I have a drip system, installed three years ago, and the recommended water schedule would have me water EVERY DAY. Instead I water much less often and I use much more water than the average user. Either I have a leak (I’ve been looking for six months) or drip watering isn’t efficient enough to warrant any exemptions.

      1. Don Shor

        Drip irrigation is suitable for vegetable gardens and for establishing young woody plants in their first couple of years. Used correctly for more established plants, drip irrigation is not likely to be more efficient than conventional sprinklers (if they are used correctly). Drip irrigation is over-rated as a water-conservation technique, in my opinion. And it is terrible for native plants, except riparian species.
        I’m not a fan of even/odd watering. I suggest the city council remove that from the regulations. Which days of the week you water, how many days of the week you water, and what time of day you water, are largely irrelevant to the efficiency of your watering.

  9. Tia Will

    Hi Barbara

    I think that your second post brings up a very good point.
    Your first post, not so much. Your at are much more risk from the bacteria transferred by shaking hands with another individual or touching the door handle in a public space than you are from the bacterial left behind from the laundry. We tend not to like to think about this, but we live awash in a sea of bacteria 24/7. Our best defense against these organisms is not how we launder our clothes, or what kind of bags we use at the store, but the simple, tried and true act of hand washing.

  10. Alan Miller

    “Outdoor watering is restricted to three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for premises with odd numbered addresses and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for premises with even numbered addresses. No outdoor watering on Monday;”

    OK, that’s crap. I just spent a bunch of money on better timers, and they water in cycles such as “every two days”, “every three days”, etc. So no matter what, even if I water less than three days a week, they may not be on the “right” day every other week, or something. That isn’t right.

    1. Anon

      I would assume if you don’t water any more than 3 days a week, and don’t leave puddles in the gutter, your neighbors are not likely to “rat you out” if your irrigation system waters on the wrong day on occasion. The idea is if someone is blatantly using more water than they should, or have a huge leak they don’t know about, then it would be reasonable to report the waste. I was down in Monterey after the Governor reported the water emergency, and watched as city employees hosed down sidewalks in a park, the water going everywhere. Unless someone reports it, who is going to know?

      1. Alan Miller

        Well, if I posted anonymously, I wouldn’t have ust told the Water Police where to look to find my sprinklers watering on a Monday!!!!!! #doh!#

      2. hpierce

        If they have a large “leak they don’t know about”, I’d talk to my neighbor BEFORE I called the City… maybe just me…

        If we can’t talk to neighbors, or others nearby, no MRAP’s, growth control, innovation parks, whatever, will preserve this community.

        1. Anon

          Absolutely agree – talk to your neighbor first. It would have to take a very uncooperative, extremely wasteful neighbor to get me to “rat” anyone out. The neighborly thing to do is to talk to your neighbor first and foremost. A friend of mine, who lives near the Bay area, said there neighbors are starting to tattle on neighbor, to the point it is getting very unpleasant. Just anecdotal, so don’t know how widespread this is.

    2. Don Shor

      You don’t need to water three days a week. Most plants are fine with once a week or less, so long as you water long enough when you do. Multiple start times on the same day can allow water to soak in and avoid runoff. Lawns need water twice a week.
      You can make your timer adjust to these rules without much difficulty.

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  12. Napoleon Pig IV

    Check out an old book entitled “Crisis and Leviathan” from the mid-80s. Nothing has really changed. In every political or social crisis, the Porcine Pinnacle gains power, governments engorge, and the sheep lose freedom while paying more to the Porcine Pinnacle. Ah, what a deserved blessing of the gods to be born a pig! Oink.

  13. ucdavisstudent

    This is ridiculous. We could have just had higher water rates so that no one would have any economic incentive to waste so much water. And if CFBR hadn’t been repealed, people wouldn’t water lawns in the middle of the day in summer.

    Also, I agree that the parks and greenbelts (and public fountains) shouldn’t be immune from “conservation measures.”

    As to not serving water at restaurants, that is just meaningless. Everything else you would consume in a restaurant (including food and any other beverages) uses a lot more than a glass of water, and then there is washing dishes. Should restaurants stop serving local meats and produce as well? How about wine?

    1. darelldd

      >> How about wine?

      I’m pretty sure that the wine won’t come without first asking.

      Honestly, I have no problem with water not coming automatically – and for all the reasons you mention. They have to wash the glass, fill it with water – even when it so often goes untouched. No, it isn’t not a large amount of wasted water compared to some of the other uses. But still… why waste even that much if we can avoid it? Just like having to ask for your meal or your wine, what’s the problem with also asking for your water?

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