Benicia begins tight water restrictions for spring, summer

BENICIA Calif. (KGO) -- Governor Jerry Brown's historic announcement puts local water agencies and municipalities on notice to tighten their belts on water usage.

The city of Benicia Wednesday began its spring and summer restrictions.

The head of Benicia's water conservation programs believes the governor's mandate will reinforce the measure in Benicia including outdoor water restrictions starting Wednesday.

Benicia residents reduced their outdoor watering by about 20 percent last year compared to 2013. They are preparing to face cutbacks again.

Laura Patterson's property still looks beautiful, but there are patches of dry, cracked soil. She is ready for the limits that take effect today.

Patterson said she supports the restrictions. "We have to. It's a given. We don't have the water here, so I do support it 100 percent," Patterson said.

Residents and commercial businesses with odd number addresses can water Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Even numbers can water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and only before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

California's fourth year of drought is taking a toll.

"The city receives much of its water from Lake Oroville. It's about 65 percent full right now. The state has told us we'll receive 25 percent allocation of state water," said Graham Wadsworth, Benicia public works director.

VIDEO: Governor Brown orders mandatory water restrictions

Last year because of the low lake levels, Benicia had to buy water on the open market to make up for dwindling state supplies.

Now more and more residents like Mary Alden are helping conserve by putting in drought resistant plants. In fact Benicia, has the highest participation in Solano County in a turf replacement rebate program. But Alden takes her water savings even further.

"Like, I don't take a shower every day and when I do take a shower I put a bucket in the shower until the water is hot and I save that water and I put it on my lawn," said Benicia resident Mary Alden.

Residents who use high amounts of water will pay a drought surcharge. And those who are caught violating the conservation schedule will face fines up to $500.

For water rebate information from Bay Area water suppliers, click here. And click here for tips on how to conserve.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.
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