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- Water Conservation & Shortage Stages
Water Conservation & Shortage Stages
California Drought Status:
Third year of drought delayed by Dec-March precipitation in most of the state:
- The past 3 years have been the driest in CA history. Nearly all of CA is in a 100% moderate-to-exceptional drought
- Both evaporative demand and lack of precipitation are drivers of the current drought since it began in Oct 2019
- Current projections are for a shortage on the Lower Colorado River in 2023; Lake Mead and Lake Powell water levels are nearly 3/4 empty
California Drought Emergency Declared (updated April 2023)
- California statewide emergency water regulations adopted in May 2021 went into effect in June 2021. Follow this link for an FAQ on the State's water restrictions.
- Owners and managers of commercial, industrial, and institutional properties (which includes HOA's) must not use potable water for irrigating non-functional turf. Please see the State's FAQ on what this means.
- An HOA cannot issue a fine on a homeowner for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation of lawns during a state or locally-declared drought emergency (per Civil Code section 4735(c)). HOA's may still apply landscaping rules within the governing documents that establish reasonable design, maintenance, and quality restrictions. (State's HOA FAQ)
The District's Best Management Practices (BMPs) are in effect at all times and are permanent. The following is a summarized list (full text of Ordinance 2021-05-05):
- Water landscapes during the cooler times of the day, between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. (exceptions for watering with a bucket; a hose with a shutoff nozzle; or with drip irrigation)
- No irrigation during or after rainfall for 48 hours
- Limit incidental runoff from irrigation
- No washing down of impervious surfaces (exception for sanitary hazards)
- Washing of vehicles permissible with use of hand-held bucket or hand-held hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle
- Obligation to fix leaks within 7 days
- Decorative water features must be equipped with a water re-circulating device
- No installation of single-pass cooling systems
- No irrigating turf with potable water on public medians
The following are the stages of water shortage which may be declared by the District's Board of Directors to respond to a water shortage condition. Click each Stage on the left for a summary of the water shortage response actions that may be implemented.
|Water Shortage Stage||Water Shortage Condition||Percent Shortage|
|Stage 1||Water Shortage Warning||1 to 10%|
|Stage 2||Moderate Water Shortage||up to 20%|
|Stage 3||Significant Water Shortage||up to 30%|
|Stage 4||Severe Water Shortage||up to 40%|
|Stage 5||Critical Water Shortage||up to 50%|
|Stage 6||Emergency Water Shortage|
The permanent water conservation BMPs that are in effect during normal water supply conditions shall continue to be in effect should a water shortage be declared by the District. These water shortage response actions do not apply to non-potable water users, unless otherwise stated when the District declares a water shortage.
Stage 1 (Water Shortage Warning): up to 10% shortage
- Increase public awareness of, and messaging about, the water supply situation
- Encourage voluntary water conservation, particularly outdoors with efficient irrigation practices
- Obligation to fix leaks with seventy-two (72) hours
- Reinforce the permanent water conservation BMPs
Stage 2 (Moderate Water Shortage): up to 20% shortage
- District will expand public awareness and outreach, leveraging regional outreach and marketing efforts by water wholesalers and the State
- Voluntary watering day restrictions to limit irrigating landscaped areas with potable water to 3 days per week April through October and 1 day per week November through March.
- Filling or refilling decorative water features that use potable water is prohibited
- Recreational water features (pools and spas) shall adhere to the District's Best Practices for the construction and operation of water use efficient recreational water features (link).
- Filling or refilling man-made lakes or ponds with potable water is prohibited, except to the extent to sustain aquatic life, such that such animals are of significant value.
- Obligation to fix leaks within forty-eight (48) hours
- Restaurants are encouraged to refrain from providing drinking water unless requested
- The use of non-potable water, when available, is required for construction purposes
Stage 3 (Significant Water Shortage): up to 30% shortage
- Water Day Restrictions: Watering or irrigating landscaped areas with potable water is limited to 3 days per week April through October and 1 day per week November through March. Exceptions to the water days limit include: drip irrigation; irrigating by hand or hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle; irrigating for short periods of time to adjust or repair an irrigation system; or customers who submit an alternative watering plan to the District.
- Obligation to fix leaks with twenty-four (24) hours
- Restaurants are prohibited from serving water unless requested
Stage 4 (Severe Water Shortage): up to 40% shortage
- Water Day Restrictions: Watering or irrigating landscaped areas with potable water is limited to 2 days per week April through October and 1 day per week November through March. Exceptions to the water days limit include: drip irrigation; irrigating by hand or hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle; irrigating for short periods of time to adjust or repair an irrigation system; or customers who submit an alternative watering plan to the District.
- District may require water conservation plans from high-use customers.
- Prohibition on vehicle washing, except at commercial car wash facilities.
- Filling or refilling of artificial lakes with potable water shall only be permitted by a filling permit
- Filling or refilling to recreational water features, such as pools or spas, is prohibited. Exempted from this are municipally or commercially operated recreational water features.
Stage 5 (Critical Water Shortage): up to 50% shortage
- Prohibition of irrigating turf grass with potable water. Exempted from this are municipal parks.
- Water Day Restrictions: Watering or irrigating trees, woody shrubs, or food-producing crops with potable water is limited to 1 day per week in all months. Exceptions to the water days limit include: customers who submit an alternative watering plan to the District.
- The District may install flow restrictors on services non-responsive to outreach or compliance with any declared water shortage.
- Filling or refilling recreational water features (pools and spas) as well as artificial lakes with potable water is prohibited.
Stage 6 (Emergency Water Shortage): +50% shortage
- District to conduct emergency public outreach urging water use be limited to essential use only.
- All outdoor irrigation with potable water is prohibited
- Prohibition on vehicle washing
- As deemed necessary, an allocation of water supply may be implemented to customers, along with other shortage response actions
In May of 2021, the District updated its Water Conservation Ordinance and Water Shortage Contingency Plan. The Water Shortage Contingency Plan provides guidance on what water supply shortage actions the District may implement in the event of a water shortage condition.
The District's Ordinance 2021-05-05 establishes Permanent Water Conservation Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are in effect at all times in the District's service area. These BMPs are intended to promote water conservation as a permanent way of life and prevent the waste of water, even during years of normal or above normal rainfall and water supply.
Summarized above are the year-round Water Conservation BMPs as well as the water shortage actions for any given declared water shortage stage. The specific text can be found in the documents on the top right of this page.
Water Shortage Contingency Plan, May 2021
Water Conservation & Water Supply Shortage Program, Ordinance 2021-05-05
US Drought Monitor: Simple visual of drought conditions
Drought.gov/states/california: Drought conditions from NOAA
State of California's Drought webpage: Hydrologic information & official drought proclamations
California WATER WATCH: Track the latest water conditions
California Department of Water Resources: Reservoir storage levels to date
Metropolitan Water District Water Supply Conditions Report
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