Bay Area cities face strict new water restrictions

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ByMatt Keller KGO logo
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Bay Area cities face strict new water restrictions
Bay Area residents are being told to get used to the new reality of "brown is the new green" after the state pushed through tough new water restrictions.

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- Get ready to work harder on conserving water; the state pushed through tough new restrictions on Tuesday night, which includes a mandatory target for each local water agency.

In a land of lawns, some parts of Morgan Hill are all green. But the lush landscapes will soon be hit with a harsh reality -- a state mandated reduction in water usage.

"Considering the fact that all of California is in the same problem I think, you know, we all have to do our part," said Morgan Hill resident Sue Malloy.

But what your part is depends on where you live. The State Water Resources Control board approved new restrictions in response to Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order mandating a 25 percent reduction in California.

Each community was placed in a tier depending on how well they conserved in the past.

San Francisco is one of several communities on the bottom of the scale. Residents did a good job conserving so their restriction is just 8 percent.

Sixteen percent cuts include Petaluma, Berkeley, Fremont, and Sunnyvale.

San Jose, Concord, San Rafael, Pittsburg, and others are at 20 percent.

Rio Vista and Discovery Bay are in the top tier and must cut 36 percent.

Morgan Hill has a tough hill to climb, landing in the 28 percent reduction camp.

The Cleaver's have lived there for decades. Their big landscaped yard gives them a $400 water bill every month. Now they're looking to convert it to a more drought friendly yard.

"They have a $2 to $3 a square foot of a rebate if you go to a more water efficient landscaping, which we're willing to do," said Morgan Hill resident Gary Cleaver. "You know, I mean, we're desperate at this point. It's pretty bad, you know."

The end goal for the state is to keep indoor water use to no more than 55 gallons per day. The state believes it's easier for water-guzzling cities and desert resorts to make huge cuts by neglecting big lawns. Communities could face big fines if they don't conserve. So get used to this reality -- brown is the new green.

"We don't know if rain will ever come back to California," said Morgan Hill resident Jodie Cleaver. "We got to be realistic about what kind of landscaping we can do."

To learn how much your city is required to cut back, click here. For water rebate information from Bay Area water suppliers, click here. And click here for tips on how to conserve water. To learn more about how to report water wasters #WhereYouLive, click here.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.