CONCORD – On April 15, the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) Board of Directors unanimously approved an update to their existing drought program to now require 25 percent water use conservation and implement additional prohibitions deemed wasteful during drought times. This update responds to the Governor’s order announced on April 1 mandating a 25 percent reduction in water use statewide; this statewide mandate on water conservation is a first in California.
While California is experiencing serious continued drought conditions, local agencies are putting together updated programs to encourage conservation. The CCWD Board of Directors approved updates to their program requiring 25 percent conservation and implementing additional prohibitions on wasteful water use during a drought – such as limiting outdoor irrigation to no more than twice a week.
In addition, at a public hearing on June 3, the Board will consider a temporary pricing adjustment on the unit cost of water, a fine for violations of the prohibitions, and adjusting the baseline to 2013 water use -all in compliance with the state regulations. As proposed, the temporary pricing adjustment would only apply to households using over 200 gallons per day and would end once the emergency order is lifted.
Beyond local conservation programs, the state is taking action to implement projects intended to encourage conservation. The Save Our Water campaign is being broadcast statewide.
In an effort to protect water quality in the Delta for water users and fish, the state is moving forward with a rock barrier that would physically help deter sea water intrusion into the southern part of the Delta. Why should CCWD care about this barrier? It all comes down to water quality. CCWD’s water intakes are in the Delta, and salinity intrusion from the Bay is an issue for water quality. With drought conditions, less fresh water is available to flow through the Delta. While this temporary barrier could cause temporary inconveniences for those using those waterways, CCWD supports the decision to install the barrier as the water quality implications could have longer term impacts on Delta water users, fish, the environment, etc…
The last time the state did this was during the 1977 drought.
What You Need to Know
All said, this drought is serious and agencies are implementing actions that are necessary to protect residents and the environment. Some are unprecedented, but so are the drought conditions statewide.
To comply with the state order for a 25 percent statewide reduction in water use, the Contra Costa Water District is implementing an updated drought program in a two-step process.
- Starting Now: On April 15, the CCWD Board of Directors set a water conservation requirement of 25 percent compared to 2013 and adopted new water-use prohibitions to comply with statewide mandates that include limiting outdoor irrigation to two days per week.
You are strongly encouraged to begin saving water immediately and adjust your automatic sprinklers now. You will not face any temporary pricing adjustment charges until the Board has approved the plan on June 4.
- Soon: To encourage all customers to meet the 25 percent reduction requirement, the Board of Directors will consider temporary pricing adjustments as called for in the Governor’s Executive Order. If approved by the Board, this will include a temporary pricing adjustment for households that use more than 200 gallons per day. This would temporarily increase the unit cots of treated water by 50 cents. The Board will also consider a fine for violating water use prohibitions..
You will not be subject to the temporary pricing adjustment until the Board approves the plan. If approved on June 3, it would be most-likely become effective immediately.
As proposed, if you use less than 200 gallons per day, you will not be subjected to the temporary pricing adjustment. Households that reduce water use by 25 percent will be able to lower their bills.
The Governor has set a target of using 25 percent less water than in 2013. You will be sent a letter on June 4 detailing your 2013 water use. This information will also begin to appear on the back of your bill in June.
Find out more by checking this website, and subscribing to our Conservation Watersaver E-newsletter.
Prohibitions of Water Use
The following uses of water supplied by the District have been determined to be wasteful and are prohibited at any time when a 25% Drought Management Program is in effect: Violators could be subject to fines of up to $500 and suspension of water service subject to board approval.
Single Family and Multi-Family Residential Customers:
- Watering of outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes excessive runoff such that water flows onto adjacent properly, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures.b. Watering of outdoor landscapes during and up to 48 hours after measurable rainfall.c. Watering of outdoor landscapes more than two days per week unless an exception is granted by the District. Examples include newly planted drip irrigated drought tolerant landscaping, and vegetable gardens.d. Watering of outdoor landscapes during the daylight hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
e. Watering of landscape of newly constructed homes and buildings that is not delivered by drip or microspray systems.
f. Washing a vehicle, trailer or boat using a hose without a shut off nozzle.
g. Washing paved or other hard-surfaced areas, including sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, and parking areas.
h. Use of water for non-recirculating decorative fountains or’ filling decorative lakes or ponds. The District strongly suggests all fountains be turned off.
- Watering of outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes excessive runoff such that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures.b. Watering of outdoor landscapes during and up to 48 hours after measurable rainfall.c. Watering of outdoor landscapes more than two days per week unless an exception is granted by the District. Examples include newly planted drip irrigated drought tolerant landscaping, and vegetable gardens.d. Watering of outdoor landscapes during the daylight hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
e. Watering of ornamental turf on public street medians.
f. Watering of landscape of newly constructed homes and buildings that is not delivered by drip or microspray systems.
g. Washing a vehicle, trailer or boat using a hose without a shut off nozzle.
h. Washing paved or other hard-surfaced areas, including sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, and parking areas .
i. Use of water for non-recirculating decorative fountains or filling decorative lakes or ponds.
j. Serving of drinking water other than upon request in eating or drinking establishments, including but not limited to restaurants, hotels, cafes, cafeterias, bars, or other public places where food or drink are served and/or purchased.
k. Operators of hotels and motels shall provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily. A notice shall be prominently displayed in each bathroom.
l .Recycled water must be used for construction and dust control where available.
What is a Drought Emergency, and what impact does it have on me? Facing a fourth-consecutive dry year and severely reduced water supplies, Gov. Jerry Brown on April 1 mandated a 25 percent statewide reduction in water use. This unprecedented action reflects the severity of the drought and what is needed from all Californians to ensure conservation-minded indoor water used can be met. Everyone needs to step up and continue to conserve water.
How much do customers need to conserve? As mandated by the state, CCWD is asking customers to reduce 25% below their water use in 2013.
When will the CCWD Drought Program go into effect? CCWD is asking its customers to cut their use immediately. The Drought Program will roll out in two steps beginning with the 25% reduction goal and prohibitions on April 15th. It is expected that all of the water use prohibitions will go into effect immediately. The new baseline and proposed fines and pricing adjustment will go through a 45-day notification and public review period with two public hearings on May 20th and June 3rd. With approval on June 3rd, the new baseline and pricing adjustment go into effect immediately and the fine on July 4th.
How can I find my 2013 water use? You will be sent a letter with your 2013 water use on June 4 or call Customer Service at (925) 688-8044. This information will also appear on the back of your bill beginning in June.
When do I start watering twice a week? Right now. If you have an automatic timer, set it to water only on two days a week, or on specific days of the week.
Will there be a temporary pricing adjustment? To encourage all customers to meet the 25% reduction requirement, the CCWD Board will consider temporary conservation pricing adjustments as called for in the Governor’s Executive Order. These include a temporary price adjustment for households that use 200 gallons per day or more, a fine for violating water use prohibitions and adjusting baseline use to 2013. Customers who achieve the requested reduction, will reduce their total bill even with a pricing adjustment.
Even if I save 25 percent, will my water bill go up? No, you will save money. A single-family home that used an average of 400 gallons per day that cuts it use by 25 percent will save $16 on its water bill.
Will CCWD impose fines for not complying with the water use prohibitions? Yes. If approved by the Board of Directors in June, CCWD would first issue a warning and work with customers to educate them about the prohibition and their violation. If after that the customer continues to violate the prohibition, the District would issue a $250 fine. At a second violation, the District would issue a $500 fine. If the violation continues, the District may suspend the service and charge a penalty of $10 per HCF (748 gallons).
If approved by the Board, the fines would become effecting on July 4. Check back here, or subscribe to our Watersaver newsletter for the latest updates.
When do the temporary pricing adjustments start? They won’t start until the Board of Directors approve them. A public hearing will be held on June.
Why is 2013 used as the baseline? Up to this point, CCWD has used a baseline of the average of 2005-2007. CCWD did this so customers who implemented conservation savings since then would see the benefit of their efforts. However, the State has mandated that Water Agencies use 2013 as the baseline.
What about Excess Use Charges? CCWD is not intending to modify the existing excess use penalty at this time, which will remain at two times the cost of water for those exceeding 1,000 gallons per day or their established baseline.
Will we have enough water? CCWD can meet conservation-minded demands through a combination of its Central Valley Project allocation, Los Vaqueros Reservoir storage, groundwater supply, recycled water, and available water transfers. By targeting reductions in discretional water use, the District can manage overall water demands in order to preserve storage in LV Reservoir in the event of a continuing drought, while minimizing the impact on the economy within CCWD’s service area.