New Rules on Outdoor Water Use in Sacramento Have Teeth

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 12, 2009

In Sacramento’s Land Park neighborhood, just about every house has a lawn.  A bright green lawn, thanks to sprinklers like these.  But the city wants residents to only water outside the hours of 10am and 6pm – and only on designated days.  Land Park resident Patrick Clark says cracking down on water use makes sense.
Clark: “It’s not good for your grass to let it run while the sun’s out anyway – it’s better for it to run early or late.  So it’s just a matter of setting your timers to a different time – it’s easy enough.”
Under the new rules, residents with odd-numbered addresses can water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  It’s Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays for even ones.  Also, washing cars without shut-off nozzles on hoses is now illegal.  A first violation gets you a letter; after that, fines range from $25 to $500.  City spokesman Maurice Cheney:
Cheney: “Yeah, the ordinance has a strong enforcement measure, it has teeth, but we really want to educate our folks and let them know the city of Sacramento offers services to point them in that right direction.”
Services like helping residents manage their water usage and even rebates.  Still, Cheney acknowledges the city has a long way to go.  The average California household uses around 190 gallons of water a day, compared to 280 in Sacramento.  Land Park resident Penny Redman thinks she knows why.
Redman: “We’ve never had any meters.  If something’s free to you – you see a line for a buffet, and how many people pile their dishes up and throw part of it away?  It’s the same thing.”
The city has started installing water meters, so it can charge customers based on how much they use.  But it’ll take several years to finish.  So officials are hoping the new outdoor rules will help jump-start smarter water use.