Mountain View City Council Declares Water Shortage Emergency

The Mountain View City Council voted Tuesday to declare a water shortage emergency in light of the state’s ongoing drought.

The Stage 1 water shortage emergency allows city officials to enforce certain rules, including only serving water to restaurant patrons who ask for it and preventing people from washing a vehicle with a running hose.

"It means the city is officially asking them to be very careful with how they use their water," said Elizabeth Flagel, who coordinates the city's water conservation efforts.

It would also allow the city to increase public awareness about water conservation.

"It'll increase our outreach to our restaurant community so that they're aware of it," Flagel said. "A lot of restaurants may not be aware. It's in the code since the early 90s."

The rules and outreach are part of an effort to cut back water usage in Mountain View by at least 10 percent.

The city council also discussed the expansion of the city’s recycled water system.

According to the city’s website, approximately 87 percent of Mountain View’s drinking water supply comes from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Most of SFPUC’s water originates from the Tuolumne River, which is fed by the Sierra Nevada snowmelt and fills the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.

The city’s potable water supply system serves approximately 97 percent of the homes and businesses in Mountain View, with the California Water Company serving the remainder.

Starting Tuesday, the Alameda County Water District has restricted its customers from watering their lawn and landscape to once a week.

The district declared a water shortage emergency on March 13 and is looking at a 20 percent reduction in water use across the board.

Businesses and residents can water on consecutive days starting Tuesday through May 31. The district has also implemented restrictions on refilling swimming pools.

"Using a hose without a nozzle, washing down your driveways, those kind of activities are prohibited during this water shortage emergency," said Robert Shaver of the Alameda County Water District. "On the irrigation side we are asking our customers to limit the number of days per week  they irrigate their landscaping."

Those who refuse to comply with the restrictions could get their water turned off or be fined up to $600.

NBC Bay Area's Nannette Miranda contributed to this report.

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