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Water Conservation Tips and New Drought Updates

Learn more about recent water restrictions in effect and ways to conserve water at home

California’s severe drought continues, and current restrictions are in effect with recent additional restrictions set by the City Council. In this new blog, learn more about water restrictions and water conservation tips for the home.

Did you know that Palo Alto’s water comes from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)? This high-quality water supply consists almost entirely of Sierra Nevada snowmelt delivered through the Hetch Hetchy water distribution system. Precipitation levels can vary greatly within any given year. Even though we may experience periods of wet weather, a warm dry spell can affect water supplies later in the year. These climate conditions, along with our limited long-term water supplies, mean it is in our best interest to use water as efficiently as possible, regardless of drought conditions.

Recent Actions Related to Water Restrictions

On May 24, the State Water Resources Control Board issued new emergency regulations that prohibits irrigation on non-functional turf with drinking water (potable water) in commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors since voluntary conservation efforts have fallen short. The emergency regulation also requires urban water suppliers, including Palo Alto, to implement water reduction measures. As such, restaurants and other food service providers in Palo Alto will only serve water upon request, and hotel/motels will provide guests the option of choosing to not have towels and linens laundered daily.

On June 20, the City Council passed new measures for compliance with State rules, including restricting using drinking water for ornamental landscape irrigation and lawns to two days per week (except to ensure the health of trees and other perennial non-turf plantings).

For residential customers, restricting potable irrigation of ornamental landscapes and lawns is restricted to two days a week, specifically:

Mondays and Thursdays for odd numbered and numberless addresses

Tuesdays and Fridays for even numbered addresses

(except to ensure the health of trees and other perennial non-turf plantings)

June 20 Council Agenda meeting materials can be found here, see item 12 (staff report on PDF page 183).

More on Palo Alto’s Water Use Restrictions

Water waste in Palo Alto is prohibited. The following specific water uses are prohibited: using drinking water for ornamental landscape irrigation and lawns more than two days per week (with exception for tree health, health and safety, and certain non-residential zone irrigation), flooding or runoff, use of a hose without a hose nozzle or shut-off device, non-recirculating fountain or other decorative water feature, outdoor irrigation or watering ornamental landscapes or turf between 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. (exception for drip irrigation, soaker hoses, and hand watering), drinking water for construction uses when non-potable water sources are available, non-recirculating commercial car washes, use of potable water for street sweepers/washers, broken or defective plumbing and irrigation systems must be repaired or replaced within a reasonable period. washing driveways, sidewalks, buildings, structures, patios, parking lots, or other hard surfaced areas except for immediate health or safety needs, and irrigation during and within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.

You can find information on how to report water waste here.

Tips for Conserving Water at Home

Conserving water at home is a great way to get involved in maintaining our water supply. There are many ways to conserve water at home in Palo Alto. Residents should consider taking the following steps to reduce water waste:

  • Regularly check for leaks
  • Replace old toilets and clothes washers
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators
  • Install automatic shut-off hose nozzles
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving
  • Add mulch to your landscaped areas to conserve water outdoors

There are also many water-saving devices you can implement in your home. See a list of free water-saving devices here.

Palo Alto Residents Qualify for Water Conservation-related Rebates

Save money on water conservation with these rebates.

Rain Barrel Rebate: Rain barrels are great for irrigating small landscapes. Receive a $70 rebate on a rain barrel when you submit an application within 14 days of purchase. You can apply online or by phone.

Pervious Pavement Rebate: Pervious Pavement allows rainfall to infiltrate into the soil below and reduces runoff and related street ponding. Pervious pavement can be designed to match the aesthetic value of a home. Receive $1.50 rebate per square foot when you submit an application when installed by a licensed contractor. You must apply before installation.

Cistern Rebate: Cisterns are effective and easily maintainable water capture and conservation devices. Watering plants with harvested water is a great alternative to the use of potable water. Receive a rebate of $1.00/gallon. You must apply prior to purchasing.

Rain Garden Rebate: Rain gardens are commonly used to divert rainwater from a roof into a garden. Receive a $2.00 rebate per square foot of roof area diverted, with a maximum of $600. The rain garden must be installed by a licensed contractor.

Graywater laundry-to-landscape Rebate: The greywater system allows water runoff from your clothes washing to water your landscape. You can receive up to a $400 rebate for purchasing.

Water Conservation as a Way of Life

The City recognizes the importance of making water conservation a way of life. We partner with Valley Waterand the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) on water use efficiency programs and education. Remember, it is important to use water wisely every day, regardless of drought conditions. Thank you for doing your part to help Palo Alto meet its water efficiency goals!

More Online Resources

Information on water conservation and drought updates is available here.

Information on Water Resources is available here.

Information on how to save water and energy is available here.

Information on Water Sustainability is available here.

Information on how to report water waste is available here.

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