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Ask the County Law Librarian: Water Conservation

Sacramento County Public Law LibraryQ-
I am a new resident to the area, and driving in my neighborhood I notice that almost every lawn is brown! I hate it, but I figure if everyone is doing it there must be a reason why. Can you shed some light?

R. J.

A-
With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, in January, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

Most recently, on July 29, 2014, an emergency regulation to increase conservation practices for all Californians went into effect. The new conservation regulation targets outdoor urban water use. In some areas of the State, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. With this regulation, all Californians are expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated. For more information take a look at the California Drought website at http://ca.gov/drought/.

According to the Association of California Water Agencies, more than fifty percent of residential water usage occurs outdoors, so it is a logical first area to target for water conservation efforts. Many California cities have passed local laws to help ensure water conservation efforts. In addition to new ordinances, many have instituted rebates and other ways that pay homeowners to save water including; offering rebates on water-saving appliances or paying them to replace traditional lawns with water-saving landscapes or gravel.

The City of Sacramento local ordinances have reduced watering down to 2 days per week which is based on address numbers. No watering is allowed on Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays and all watering must occur before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. No overwatering is permitted. If citizens see watering taking place on the wrong day or time or see overwatering, they should report it to the City by calling 311 or (916) 264-5011. Residents can also email when and where you saw the water misuse to 311@cityofsacramento.org or report it via the 311 app on your mobile phone.

Fines for failing to comply with the City’s water conservation ordinance can be substantial. For the first written notice of violation, no fine is issued. However, with a second written notice, there is a $50 fine which can be waived by attending a Water Conservation Workshop. A third written notice is $200, and any subsequent violations are $1000 each.

The California Department of Water Resources website has drought updates, videos, and more. For tools and other information that can be used to calculate home water usage, build a water-friendly garden, or other conservation toolkits, check out Save Our Water at www.saveourh2o.org.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian
www.saclaw.org

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