Water & Drought

Sacramento to keep closer tabs on residents’ water use

By Marissa Lang

mlang@sacbee.com

June 02, 2015 09:15 PM

UPDATED June 03, 2015 10:14 PM

The city’s latest attempt to limit Sacramento’s water use amid a historic and unrelenting drought means cracking down on residential water use every day, including the wee hours of the night.

Should the city continue to fall short of its state-mandated 28 percent reduction in water consumption over the next nine months, residents may be limited to once-a-week outdoor watering as soon as July, according to a new plan adopted Tuesday by the City Council. Sacramento residents are currently limited to watering outdoors twice a week on designated days.

Sacramento had a 23 percent reduction in April, according to data released by the State Water Resources Control Board this week.

The city hopes to stave off the once-a-week mandate and cut down on the amount of errant watering by patrolling neighborhoods and city streets in the early morning, afternoon and overnight, according to a report presented by Terrance Davis, the city’s sustainability manager.

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Sacramento will no longer water turf on the medians of public streets within city limits, although saving trees will remain a priority, several council members said.

Increased public outreach, incentives for residents to tear out turf and install water-saving appliances and positive-reinforcement programs for citizens who go above and beyond to conserve are also a part of the city’s plan. A new Web portal would link residents’ water meters with a data tracker that would allow city residents to see how their water use fluctuates over time.

If the city’s targets aren’t met by July 15, according to city staff, the city would implement “Stage 3 of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan,” which would include one-day-a-week watering and drastic reductions in water use by businesses and parks.

“We need a different way to irrigate that’s less wasteful,” Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said. “As a state, we have two choices: change our lifestyle completely … or we can be innovators.”

All large water districts in the region have begun restricting the number of days their residential customers can use water for their landscaping, and many have pledged to fine residents who disregard the rules.

The state Water Resources Control Board has ordered municipalities to cut water use an average of 25 percent between now and next February as California endures its fourth year of drought.

Marissa Lang: (916) 321-1038, @Marissa_Jae Phillip Reese contributed to this report.