California Drought: Here's a Look at Bay Area Water Restrictions

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Nearly all of the Bay Area is under an exceptional drought and some local water agencies are now imposing restrictions in an effort to conserve.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 8 asked residents and businesses in California to voluntarily cut how much water they use by 15% amid worsening drought

NBC Bay Area has reached out to water agencies for information on how they plan to move forward during the drought. Bookmark this page as we will be updating it once we get more information. Visit our drought page for more coverage.

Here's what we know so far:

Alameda County Water District

ACWD, which serves Fremont, Newark and Union City, currently does not have mandatory water use restrictions in place. The district launched a water conservation campaign asking customers to conserve considering that we are now in a second critically dry year and it’s important to save should next year be dry as well. More information about the district's water supply conditions and water-saving information is available at acwd.org.

Contra Costa County Water District

The Contra Costa County Water District has called a stage 1 water shortage and is asking customers to voluntarily cut water use by 10 percent.

To see available district resources and rebates concerning reduction, go to ccwater.com/drought.

East Bay Municipal Utility District

EBMUD’s Board declared a Stage 1 drought for our 1.4 million customers in late April. We have asked our customers to voluntarily conserve 10% -- and that’s community-wide. For those who are already conserving (and there are many!) we ask that they keep it up. For those who can conserve more (and there are many!) we provide information, rebates and indoor aerators etc. to assist. In addition, there are water waste restrictions that have been in place since after the last drought (common sense actions). Section 29 restricts certain types of water use that are wasteful at all times – things like irrigating in a way that creates runoff, watering during rain events, etc. It also provides water saving guidelines for efficient water use.

We are asking customers to save now, so we can be better prepared should the drought worsen next year.

Marin Water

In response to historically low reservoir levels and drought conditions, Marin Water's board of directors voted in May to increase restrictions on water use.

On July 6, the Marin Water Board adopted tighter irrigation restrictions and designated a "watering day" for the following areas:

  • Monday: Ross, Tiburon, Belvedere, San Geronimo, Forest Knolls, Lagunitas
  • Tuesday: San Rafael, Unincorporated Marin County
  • Wednesday: San Quentin, Sausalito, Corte Madera, San Anselmo
  • Thursday: Mill Valley
  • Friday: Woodacre, Larkspur, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield
  • Saturday and Sunday: No irrigation

More information on the water use restrictions can be found at MarinWater.org/WaterRules.

Mid-Peninsula Water District

MPWD started asking in January for its customers to voluntarily reduce consumption by 10%. The district has focused its messaging on outdoor usage as summer neared.

The drought continues to grow with 26.04% of California now in an exceptional drought. You’ll see in the maps below the worst level of drought is now focused over the North and East Bay. Chief Meteorologist Jeff Ranieri reports.

San Francisco Water

San Francisco Water In April announced a 10% voluntary reduction request for our 1,600 irrigation customers (such as golf courses, park, gardens, etc.), with a similar reduction request in irrigation use for our city departments.

Additionally, the utility has had the following water restrictions in place since 2016, when its commission adopted a resolution in response to the fifth year of California’s drought:

  • Application of potable water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff such that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, or parking lots or structures
  • Use of hoses for any purpose without an automatic shut-off valve
  • Use of potable water to wash sidewalks, driveways, plazas and other outdoor hardscapes for reasons other than health, safety, or to meet City of San Francisco standards for sidewalk cleanliness in a manner that causes runoff to storm drains and sewer catch basins. In addition, San Francisco sewer requirements prohibit discharge of water containing pollutants or grease or water from sources other than rain to storm drains and catch basins. 
  • Use of single pass cooling systems, fountains and decorative water features, and commercial car washes
  • Application of potable water to outdoor landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall
  • Irrigation with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians
  • Use of potable water for consolidation of backfill, dust control, or other nonessential construction purposes if foundation drainage or recycled water is available and approved by the Department of Public Health
  • Serving drinking water other than upon request at eating or drinking establishments, including restaurants, hotels, cafes, cafeterias, bars or other public places where food or drink are served
  • To promote conservation, hotels and motels shall provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily and display notice of this option in guestrooms

Related links:

This trend of below average rain has not only happened this year but it’s becoming more and more common.

San Jose Water

Restrictions for San Jose Water customers will begin on July 9.

San Jose Water will be asking customers to only water yards at night or mornings before 10 a.m. and only two days a week for no more than 15 minutes each day.

Residents are also being asked to use professional car washes - instead of their yard - because the car washes use recycled water.

This is all an effort to cut consumption by 15% a requirement imposed on them by the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Santa Clara Valley Water District

The Santa Clara Valley Water District voted in early June to declare a water shortage emergency and require cities and private water companies in the Santa Clara Valley to reduce water usage by 15% of 2019 usage levels.

Sonoma Water

The Sonoma City Council recently voted to require local water providers to reduce water use by 20% system-wide by July 1.

The council recently voted to declare a Stage Two water shortage requiring Sonoma Water and its contractors, including the city, to reduce diversions from the Russian River by 20% from last year's usage between July 1 and mid-December. 

In Santa Rosa, the city council voted Tuesday to declare a water shortage emergency and adopt Stage 3 of the city's water shortage contingency plan. The move mandates a community-wide 20% reduction in water use. The council in May adopted voluntary 20% reductions.

More information on saving water and available resources can be found at srcity.org/SaveWater.

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