Front yards in the Golden State will look very golden this summer in some neighborhoods. Regional water agencies across California have implemented massive restrictions for outdoor watering.
Millions of residents and businesses across Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties will only be allowed to water once a week or be forced to cut their total water usage by a certain percentage.
Millions more in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area will only be allowed to water three times a week with no runoff. And those East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) customers won’t be able to wash sidewalks or streets. Violators will be charged "Excessive Use Penalties," reported KTVU FOX 2.
"Usually the easiest and the biggest bang for your buck as far as conserving water is going to be in your outdoor water use," Jennifer Allen, Public Affairs Director for the Contra Costa Water District, told FOX Weather.
Contra Costa asked customers to reduce water usage by 15% compared to 2020 usage. Allen said the district is confident that customers can cut water use because they already voluntarily cut 10% of use in 2021 from 2020 after the agency's request to conserve.
"Summer is the best window to reduce demand," Mike Tognolini, Water Resources Director for EBMUD told KTVU FOX 2. "So, taking action now provides the best opportunity to reduce demand during the irrigation season."
EBMUD already implemented drought surcharges of a maximum of $0.10 per day or $6 every two months through the end of the drought. Contra Costa Water District proposed a drought surcharge of up to 15%, which would work out to $0.28 per day for an average customer using 260 gallons of water a day.
The Marin Water District in the northern San Francisco Bay Area actually expanded outdoor water sprinkler and drip irrigation use to two days a week after December rains. Watering was prohibited since early-December 2021. The district hoped restrictions would lead to a 40% use reduction. They still prohibit power washing homes and businesses and home car washing.
All water agencies restrict watering between 9 a.m. and 6 or 7 p.m.
"2021 ended with some great rainstorms and snowstorms coming in. But unfortunately, they stopped at the beginning of 2022," said Allen. "And so that put us in a situation where our water allocation was cut to public health and safety levels, leading us to look at our local supplies that we could use to meet our customers needs."
The U.S. Drought Monitor puts 95% of the state in "severe drought" and 40% in "extreme drought." California is in the midst of a third consecutive year of drought.
In Governor Gavin Newsom’s extension of the State of Emergency declaration for drought, he referenced the 2020-21 water year as the second-driest on record. The first two months of this year were the driest consecutive January and February on record.
"We are still on course to have the driest January to June on record in 2022," said Tognolini. "Not only is 2022 looking this way, the expectation, based on what's happening around the state, is that 2023 will also see very limited supplemental supplies."
"The Metropolitan Water District (of Southern California) is warning that more restrictions are possible, including banning all outdoor watering as early as September because of severe drought," reported FOX 11 Los Angeles.