Drought—it is upon us.

By John Souillere Administrative Officer MSWD
The word “drought” probably means more to you now than it did about six weeks ago. Drought discussions have dominated the media as well as activities in Sacramento since January when Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency due to the unprecedented and enduring lack of precipitation in the state.

In April, 2014, Governor Brown asked Californians to “redouble their efforts to conserve water” and set a 20 percent water use reduction goal. Then on July 15, 2014, the State water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted “An Emergency Regulation For Statewide Urban Water Conservation.”
The regulation outlines numerous practices that will become illegal beginning of August 1, 2014. The regulation will endure for at least 270 days thereafter. Further, the SWRCB regulation requires urban water purveyors—including MSWD—to enforce the level of their local ordinance that meets, at a minimum, the water restrictions required by the state.

MSWD will respond by enacting the section of its Water Ordinance that pertains to a water shortage. This will require a public hearing—scheduled for August 18th at 3 p.m. at MSWD. The four base requirements from the state in addition to some new reporting requirements are as follows:
1. The application of drinkable water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff such as that water flows onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or structures;
2. The use of a hose that dispenses drinkable water to wash a motor vehicle, except where the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle or device attached to it that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use;
3. The application of potable water to driveways and sidewalks; and
4. The use of clean water in a fountain or other decorative water feature, except where the water is part of a recirculating system.

These requirements may seem like common sense to you, but those two words—common and sense—are more of an oxymoron these days than a reality. MSWD is weighing the ramifications of the new regulation as it pertains to enforcement. It won’t be easy. MSWD would prefer that people simply be mindful of their water-use practices. We’ve been preaching that message for decades. We know our water resources are both rare in quality and finite in quantity. This is also why we need to protect our water from degradation. What is the number-one threat to water quality in the MSWD
service area? Septic tanks.

Let’s both use our water intelligently and protect our water—sensibly.

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