Officials weigh local water rules after state pullback

A pair of golfers tee off on the 6th hole last Thursday morning at Ridgemark. Photo by Nick Lovejoy

Although the state has revoked mandatory water restrictions for residential users after a relatively wet winter, this county’s authorities are examining whether to implement locally based conservation rules.
The Water Resources Association of San Benito County on Thursday announced that local jurisdictions’ leaders are bringing forward a proposal for restrictions aiming to cap use at 15 percent under 2013 numbers. That compares with the 25 percent mandatory reduction, also compared with 2013 figures, instituted by the state since last spring, before the governor’s recent decision to lift the rules and let local jurisdictions decide for themselves.
Along with the percentage reduction, municipalities such as the two local cities and county will consider other policies such as restricting landscape watering to three days weekly; no washing sidewalks or other hard surfaces; and no watering of lawns within 48 hours of rain.
Look back for a full story. According to the full announcement from the water resources control board:
The State Water Resources Control Board has approved modifications to the existing emergency water conservation regulation to reflect improved conditions and allow for more local decision-making.
The modified regulation replaces the existing state-imposed mandatory conservation standards with a locally driven, supply-based assessment process. Urban water suppliers will now be required to self-certify their water supply availability assuming three additional dry years and customer demands based on 2013 and 2014 averages. Local suppliers will then determine the level of conservation needed to assure adequate supply over that time.
This action follows a relatively wet winter in Northern California. More rain and snow fell in Northern California as compared to Central and Southern California; yet, due to California’s water conveyance systems, concerns over supply reliability have eased even in urban Southern California. Consequently, the mandatory demand-driven conservation standards in place over the last ten months have been adjusted.
Locally, our rainfall has been about average. This Water Year, which began on October 1st and runs through September 30th, has seen about 14.5 inches of rain register at the San Benito County Water District’s weather station (October 1st through April 30th). Hardly enough to rebound from four years of drought. That’s why conservation standards are still needed in case winter 2016 was a short reprieve in a longer drought.
The managers from the San Benito County Water District, the City of Hollister, the City of San Juan Bautista, the Sunnyslope County Water District and the Water Resources Association of San Benito County met this week to discuss local supply and water conservation goals for the remainder of the calendar year. The outcome was to suggest a 15% reduction in residential water use compared to residential water consumption in 2013.
The managers will bring their recommendations to their Boards and Councils in June for approval. To achieve a 15% reduction, the following restrictions will be recommended:
OUTDOOR WATER RESTRICTIONS
· Landscape watering shall be limited and restricted to three (3) days per week.
· No watering of landscaping between the hours of 9am and 5pm unless it is with drip irrigation or hand watering with a quick acting positive shut off nozzle.
· No washing down sidewalks, driveways, patios, porches, or other hardscape surfaces.
· No watering lawns within 48 hours of rain
· No watering landscape that causes runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, or parking lots.
· No washing of cars without the use of a quick acting, positive shutoff nozzle.
· No operation of decorative fountains or other water features unless the water is recirculated.
GENERAL
Leaks, breaks and malfunctions of irrigation systems and plumbing equipment causing waste of water shall be repaired and corrected within a reasonable amount of time as determined by the District Manager of Sunnyslope County Water District, the City Manager of the City of Hollister or the City Manager of San Juan Bautista.
PROHIBITONS AFFECTING COMMERCIAL BUSINESSES
· Restaurants and other food service establishments can only serve water on request;
· Operators of hotels and motels must provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily and prominently display notice of this option.
If you need assistance in conserving water or want to report water waste, contact the Water Resources Association of San Benito County (WRASBC) at: (831) 637-4378 or visit their website for water saving ideas and tips at: www.wrasbc.org.

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