May is Water Awareness Month. It’s also the start of our irrigation season when water use starts to go up dramatically. Over 60% of residential water use is for landscape purposes in the summer.
This is especially important since we are in the grips of a three-year drought and there is no end in sight. Being efficient and “aware” while irrigating is essential!
Our water supply is derived from three sources. Our groundwater basin is our main source of water. We also import water from the Central Valley Project. And our third source is recycled water from the City of Hollister’s Reclamation Plant that delivers this water to agricultural and landscape accounts.
In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table—the depth at which water is found below the surface—drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Central Valley Project that delivers imported water to our county for agriculture, residents and businesses, announced a zero-water allocation for agricultural customers and a zero allocation for municipal water customers (City of Hollister and Sunnyslope County Water District).
In addition to supplying drinking water to customers, the imported water helps keep our groundwater basin in balance.
Stage I of the Hollister Urban Area Water Shortage Contingency Plan was adopted last May. This called for voluntary water conservation with a goal of 15% reduction compared to pre-drought levels. According to California’s Water Resources Control Board, water conservation across the state amounted to a 7.5% water use reduction compared to a year ago. San Benito County hasn’t fared much better.
All local water agencies will be implementing Stage II of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan the first week in May due to the dry conditions throughout late winter and early spring. These are mandatory water conservation measures. Most of the measures aim to control water use outside. The most notable is landscape irrigation, which will be limited to two times per week. Odd numbered addresses are restricted to irrigating on Tuesdays and Saturdays, where even numbered addresses will be limited to Wednesdays and Sundays in the Hollister Urban Area. San Juan Bautista will restrict landscape irrigation to Monday and Thursday only. Customers of Sunnyslope County WD, City of Hollister and San Juan Bautista will all receive a bill insert with their May bills that will outline all the water conservation measures.
Since no one knows when this drought will end, we need to stretch our water supply as much as possible. Water conservation is something every resident in San Benito County can do.
All water agencies urge their customers to have their irrigation system inspected for FREE by the Water Resources Association of San Benito County (WRASBC). A technician can assess your irrigation system to see if it is working properly, adjust sprinklers (if needed), set your irrigation controller to comply with the new measures and make sure water is not running off your landscapes onto streets or sidewalks.
Call and schedule your appointment today at 831.637.4378. To view the Mandatory Water Conservation Measures, visit www.wrasbc.org.
Shawn O. Novack is Water Conservation Program Manager for the Water Resources Association San Benito County and San Benito County Water District.