The North Coast County Water District board was expected to vote today to establish new rules aimed at curtailing water waste and ultimately turning off the spigot if scofflaws won’t comply. The effective date would be Aug. 25, after the publication of the ordinance.
The ordinance establishes rules and regulations prohibiting wasteful use of water and providing for enforcement. Most of the rules relate to outdoor use. The rules are:
tPotable water shall not be used to water outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes more than incidental runoff. Hoses shall be equipped with a shut-off nozzle for washing vehicles, sidewalks, walkways or buildings. Ornamental fountains shall use only recirculated water or recycled water.
tPotable water should not be applied to any driveway, sidewalk or other hard surface
except to address an immediate health and safety concerns. Residents should not use potable water for outdoor landscapes 48 hours after rainfall. Potable water can’t be used to irrigate public street medians.
tRestaurants shall serve water to customers only upon request. Hotels and motels shall provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily. The ordinance regulates “single-pass cooling systems” on new construction. Recreational water features must be covered when not in use.
t Customers are obligated to fix leaks within five days of district notification. NCCWD may temporarily shut off service if unable to contact the account holder about a leak.
Enforcement begins with education, district officials said. NCCWD will contact customers and tell them about the violations, potential penalties and compliance required. Written notice follows. If there is a second violation, NCCWD will send a written notice to the customer requesting the customer cease the violation and take prompt remedial action.
Onsite notification follows if a third violation is observed. A notice will be posted on the front door requiring the customer to cease the violation and take remedial action within 48 hours. Failure to do that may result in temporary termination of water service.
If a further violation is observed more than two days after the on-site notification, it will be deemed a willful violation of the mandatory restrictions and the water district could terminate water service or install a flow restrictor.
The customer is responsible for paying NCCWD’s costs in enforcing the ordinance and to pay all fees and charges. The customer’s account must be in good standing for the water district to reconnect water service after it has been terminated.
An appeal is possible if a customer disputes a staff determination of a violation, the installation of a flow restrictor or termination of water service by writing to the general manager.
On July 21, the district issued a State 2 water shortage contingency plan and urged a voluntary 15 percent reduction in overall water use by customers, said NCCWD General Manager Adrianne Carr. That follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s July 8 proclamation extending a state of emergency to San Mateo County due to continued drought conditions. The proclamation called on all Calfornians to voluntarily reduce their water levels by 15 percent from 2020 levels. NCCWD’s water supplier, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, reiterated the call for a voluntary 15 percent water use reduction to both wholesale and retail customers.
“We feel this will make our city able to make conservation a way of life,” Carr said. “We are blessed here. Customers use very little water compared with the state and the Bay Area.”
One purpose of the ordinance is to find people who haven’t fixed leaks. Most want leaks fixed right away, she said. There are fewer than a dozen customers she can think of who haven’t fixed leaks.
“When we read the meter, we can usually tell if there is a leak. We encourage them to check for leaks,” she said. “Very commonly a toilet is leaking or a sprinkler head is broken. A professional can help a customer fix that. We have a leak adjustment policy. They pay for the extra water at cost.”
There are about 400 customers who haven’t paid their bills in many months, but NCCWD won’t shut off their water, district officials said.
Pacificans are using less water now than in 2013. This is the second year of dry conditions and the last two years are the driest since the 1970s, Carr said.
“We have a lot of water in storage. Hopefully, it will rain cats and dogs in September. We will be conserving until then,” she said.