Tahoe/Truckee agencies enforce water restrictions amid CA drought


[Article courtesy of tahoedailytribune.com / Kevin MacMillan, Photo courtesy Nate Dyk]

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Local water agencies plan to enforce restrictions for property owners in response to California’s worsening drought situation.

On Friday, the Tahoe City Public Utility District Board of Directors declared “Stage 2 Drought Restrictions” for its service areas, in response to the state’s recent emergency declaration. This includes:

• Restrictions on outdoor spray irrigation (drip-only irrigation is not subject to this) — addresses ending in even numbers can water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; addresses ending in odd numbers can water on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

• Restaurants and bars are to serve water only upon request.

• Complete filling of outdoor swimming pools is prohibited without written authorization.

“Our water supplies are fairly stable because our customers have already been conserving water,” Dan Wilkins, board president, said in a statement. “We urge them to continue to be prudent in their use of water during this extended drought.”

On July 15, the California Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation to ensure water agencies, their customers and state residents increase water conservation in urban settings, or face possible fines.

The regulation will likely go into effect on or about August 1, pending final approval. It mandates minimum actions to conserve water supplies for 2014 and 2015.

In Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista and Carnelian Bay, and elsewhere served by the North Tahoe Public Utility District, residents will likely soon be mandated to enforce similar restrictions as those in Tahoe City.

Staff will recommend at the board’s Aug. 12 meeting to upgrade to level 2 water enforcement, said Pam Emmerich, NTPUD Technology and Public Information Administrator.

“The state is very clear on what their requirements are … there’s not a lot of flexibility,” she said Monday. “We really need people to pay attention and step back and take a look at the water they are using. If everyone just did a little, it really will help a lot.”

With the regulation, Californians are expected to stop washing driveways and sidewalks; watering outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash motor vehicles (unless hose is fitted with shut-off nozzle); and using potable water in fountains/decorative features (unless water is recirculated).

Exceptions are for health and safety circumstances.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine users up to $500 a day for failure to follow conservation regulations. Further, the state water board can fine agencies who don’t comply up to $10,000 a day.

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District also plans to follow the state’s regulation, Public Information Officer Steven Poncelet said Monday.

Exact details need to be approved by the board, he said; a special meeting will likely be scheduled in the coming days.

“We’ve been very adamant that everyone needs to conserve …” said Poncelet, adding that Truckee’s water supply is in no danger of drying up. “We will comply with state.”

TCPUD General Manager Cindy Gustafson said no new staff is being hired to enforce regulations, which affect residential and commercial properties.

Instead, staff already in the field will be on the lookout for violations, and will put door hangers with reminders of the rules at properties.

A first violation is a verbal warning, while a second carries a verbal warning. Fines are possible beyond that, Gustafson said.

“… In general we have such a conscientious community. They’re already really aware of what to do to help conserve water,” she said.

On April 25, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order to strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions, while calling on Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.

In January, Brown declared a drought state of emergency, calling for a 20 percent voluntary reduction among residents, an action supported by regional agencies, including TCPUD, NTPUD and Truckee Donner Public Utility District.

TCPUD has free water conservation kits available at its office at 221 Fairway Drive in Tahoe City. Learn more at tahoecitypud.com.

NTPUD has similar kits available for free at 875 National Ave. in Tahoe Vista. Learn more at ntpud.org.

Learn more about TDPUD at tdpud.org.