Strict orders loom as California falls short on water conservation

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Monday, March 16, 2015
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Residents across California may soon face strict new orders to restrict water usage because the state has fallen short on its conservation efforts.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- California may soon be under strict new orders to cut back on using water because the state has fallen short on its conservation efforts. On Tuesday, California water regulators will decide on a plan to restrict landscape watering to just twice a week.

Just last summer, many homeowners were voluntarily letting their lawns go. In Silicon Valley there were signs sprouting up that read: "Brown is the new green." Now because of the drought, that may become a statewide initiative.

The target is watering of lawns and gardens which, in urban areas, accounts for 70 percent of water usage. The restriction will impact areas where local rules don't already exist. The twice a week rule would help boost the statewide goal to reduce consumption by 20 percent. Currently, the statewide average is just under nine percent.

But the tough restriction doesn't sit well with people like Luz Villa, who doesn't have a lawn. But she does have a large organic garden to feed her family.

"I pretty much am self-sustainable," she said. "I want to be able to feed my family on my own without having to depend on going to the grocery store all the time. And I like to eat organic, so growing my own garden is especially important for me and the health of my family."

Nick Esquivel at Almaden Valley Nursery says the plan will be difficult for some property owners to handle.

"It's hard to break a habit," he said. "If you're used to, you know, 20 years I've been watering my lawn every day or every other day, it's hard to break that habit. But with watering it deeper, you can do it less frequently."

And by that, Esquivel means watering the lawn until it's about to run off, then wait 30 to 60 minutes before giving it one more soaking. He says that will promote deep root growth and minimize reduced watering.

Another restriction under consideration would ban watering within 48 hours of any measurable rainfall.

"Especially in the summer, most water is used outdoors so it's really the way we can save water fairly easily is by cutting water outdoors so we can make sure we have enough for those essential indoor uses," said Marty Grimes with the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

It's not clear if violations of the restrictions will result in any fines or other enforcement action.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.

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