Modesto could restrict outdoor watering to one day a week after missing its state mandate for saving water.
Officials are expected to ask the City Council on Tuesday to approve changes to Modesto’s drought contingency plan, which would limit outdoor watering to once a week effective Dec. 1. In May, the city reduced outdoor watering from three days to two days a week in response to a state mandate that it cut its water use 36 percent.
If approved by the council, the restrictions would allow homes, businesses and other water customers with even-numbered addresses to water Saturday; those with odd-numbered addresses would water Sunday. There is no outdoor watering from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Gov. Jerry Brown in April issued an executive order calling for a 25 percent statewide reduction in urban water use to help California cope with four years of drought. The reduction is based on 2013 water use and is for potable – or drinkable – water. The reduction took effect June 1.
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The state mandated varying reductions among cities based on their past water use. Many Northern San Joaquin Valley cities have to reduce water use 28 percent to 36 percent.
A city report states Modesto has reduced its use 29 percent from June 1 through Oct. 31, which is 7 percentage points below its state mandate.
The State Water Resources Control Board on Nov. 10 issued Modesto a notice of violation for not saving enough water. The notice asked the city to take additional steps to save water and update the board on its conservation efforts.
Utilities Director Larry Parlin said Modesto expected to receive the notice and it is not a fine but a request for information. He said city officials are asking the council to limit watering to once a week because the city has tried everything else to reach 36 percent, including offering cash incentives for homeowners who replace lawns with landscaping that uses little or no water, sending out patrols to look for people violating the restrictions, and fining violators. The fines top out at $500.
Parlin said once-a-week watering could become the norm. Brown’s executive order is set to expire in February, but he issued another order this month stating the 25 percent reduction will stay in place through October if the drought continues into January.
The federal Climate Prediction Center’s most recent precipitation map shows Modesto straddling the zones predicting 40 percent and 50 percent chances of above-normal rainfall from December through February. Modesto has a 33 percent chance of normal rainfall, and its remaining chances are for below-normal precipitation.
The state water board reported Oct. 30 that California’s urban water use was down 28.1 percent from June 1 through Sept. 30.
The council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316