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N. Cal Water Restrictions: Meaning of ‘Mandatory’ Depends on Where You Live

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

Customers of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission must cut outdoor water use by 10 percent. But as a practical matter, the order applies mainly to the Commission’s 1,600 customers with separate metered water accounts for landscape irrigation — golf courses, parks and the like. Those customers who fail to comply could see their water rates doubled.

San Francisco’s water cops will rely on whistleblowers for broader enforcement. Customers with three reported violations could be fined $100 per day, but in general, SFPUC “will be focusing on education and training, not policing and fining,” according to a Commission news release.

In San Francisco and three other Bay Area counties have tripled their water savings since late June and are on track to attain an overall 10 percent reduction benchmark by Labor Day. The latest restrictions just took effect mid-September.

Meanwhile the 1.3 million customers of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District have their own new set of mandatory water restrictions. Actually they’re the same voluntary rules that the District already had in place, but are now deemed mandatory under its newly declared “water shortage emergency.” Ironically officials at EBMUD don’t plan to impose fines on water wasters.

The state has the right to put a flow restrictor on or even shut someone’s water off if they are a flagrant water abuser.

Mandatory water rules echo the recently issued state guidelines:

  • Limit watering of outdoor landscapes to two times per week maximum.
  • Prevent excess runoff when watering their landscapes.
  • Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles.
  • Use a broom or air blower, not water, to clean hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks, except as needed for health and safety purposes.
  • Turn off any fountain or decorative water feature unless the water is recirculated.
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