RMWD calls for Level 2 Drought Alert

Effective July 1, Ramona Municipal Water District will be in a Level 2 Drought Alert, up a notch from the Level 1 Drought Watch called for in late January.

RMWD directors last Tuesday approved the move to Level 2, which imposes some mandatory water use restrictions, including designated watering days, times and duration. Compliance with the restrictions will be through voluntary actions and will be reviewed after six months to determine if voluntary water conservation has been sufficient, or if financial incentives or penalties will be needed to encourage greater conservation. The six-month period will be from July through December.

A news release from the district outlined sIn summary, mandatory water use restrictions include:

• Stop washing down paved surfaces including sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts or patios, except when it is necessary to alleviate safety or sanitation hazards.

• Stop water waste resulting from inefficient landscape irrigation from runoff, low head drainage, or overspray, etc. Stop water flows onto non-targeted areas such as adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, hardscapes, roadways or structures.

• Irrigate residential and commercial landscape on designated days. From July through October, EVEN numbered addresses will water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; ODD numbered addresses will water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday;  and no watering on Sunday.   

From November through May, water use is further restricted to watering only on Monday for EVEN numbered addresses, and Thursday for ODD numbered addresses (EVEN/ODD address is determined by the last digit of the customer’s address).   Note:  This section shall not apply to commercial growers and nurseries.

• Limit lawn watering time and landscape irrigation using sprinklers to no more than 15 minutes per watering station on designated day. This provision does not apply to landscape irrigation systems using water efficient devices, including but not limited to: weather based controllers, drip/micro irrigation systems and stream rotor sprinklers.

• Irrigate residential and commercial landscape before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. only.

• Water landscaped areas including trees and shrubs on residential and commercial properties, not irrigated by a landscape irrigation system, on the same schedule set forth by using a bucket, hand-held hose with positive shut-off nozzle, or low volume non-spray irrigation.

• Repair leaks within 72 hours of notification by the district unless other arrangements are made with the general manager or his designee.

• Stop operating ornamental fountains or similar decorative water features unless recycled water is used.

• Irrigate nursery and commercial growers’ products before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. only.  Watering is permitted at any time with a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle, a bucket, or when a drip/micro irrigation system/equipment is used. Irrigation of nursery propagation beds is permitted at any time.

• Wash vehicles only while using a bucket and a hand-held hose with a positive shut-off nozzle, mobile high pressure/low volume wash system, or at a commercial site that re-circulates, or reclaims, water on site. Avoid washing during hot conditions when additional water is required due to evaporation.

• Serve and refill water in restaurants and other food service establishments only upon request.

• Offer guests in hotels, motels and other commercial lodging establishments the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.

• Use recycled or non-potable water for construction purposes when available.

• Watering of livestock is permitted at any time.

These restrictions do not apply to private wells or recycled water systems.

Note:  all RMWD park irrigation—including community center, ball fields, rodeo arena and fairgrounds—uses a well water system.

By allowing these mandatory water use restriction measures to be accomplished on a voluntary basis, district officials are hopeful that residential and commercial customers will take the steps necessary to reduce consumption by 8 percent without the need for over-usage penalties.

SAWR (Special Agricultural Water Rate) and IAWP (Interim Agricultural Water Program) customers will be on mandatory reduction plans of 13 percent to 30 percent, with over-usage penalties in place.

Within the next few weeks, residential and commercial customers should begin receiving information regarding a “Target Allocation” for each account, which represents an 8 percent reduction from the amount of water used per month over the 2006-07 fiscal year that started on July 1, 2006 and ended on June 30, 2007.

As RMWD customers have been responsive to requests for water conservation in the past, district officials are optimistic that the voluntary program will work. The program will be monitored closely from July through December. If goals are being met, the program will be continued as voluntary for the remainder of the 2009-10 fiscal year.  

If goals are not met, the district will go to mandatory conservation measures effective Jan. 1, 2010, with a pass through of MWD (Metropolitan Water District) penalties for over-use. Conservation credits earned and recorded during the voluntary portion of this plan from July 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2009, can be used after Dec. 31, 2009, if the program goes mandatory with penalties.

Although a Drought Response Level condition exists, conditions are not currently severe enough to warrant the declaration of a water shortage emergency pursuant to the California Water Code Section 350.  Therefore, under current conditions, service applications shall continue to be accepted and evaluated by RMWD, including applications for new potable metered water service or upsizing of metered water service, new temporary meters or permanent meters and requests for new statements of ability to serve or provide potable water service such as: will-serve letters, certificates, or letters of availability, commitment letters, agency clearance forms, and out-of-district potable water service agreements.

However, at any time the district board has the discretion to reevaluate whether a water shortage emergency exists. If deemed necessary, the board may declare a water shortage emergency.

While the district is seeking voluntary compliance at this time, customers who repeatedly fail to follow mandatory water use restrictions may be subject to penalties or fines, in accordance with the RMWD Water Conservation Ordinance. To report water waste, call 760- 789-1330.   

For complete information about the Ramona Municipal Water District Conservation Program,  go to the district’s Web site,   rmwd.org, and click on the water conservation link.

Customers are advised to prepare now for this water emergency, before the mandatory restrictions take place.  They may make water-saving improvements to irrigation systems by checking for leaks, resetting timers and installing more water efficient devices, such as stream rotary sprinkler heads or drip/micro irrigation systems.  

State and regional water officials do not anticipate that the current situation will get better soon. Existing drought and environmental conditions will require lifestyle changes by all.

Customers may send a letter to express comments or concerns regarding the Level 2 Drought Alert or Water Conservation Program to the District office:

Ralph McIntosh, General Manager

Ramona Municipal Water District

105 Earlham Street

Ramona, CA 92065

Unless specifically requested by the customer, personal responses to comment letters will not be made. However, all comments and concerns will be carefully considered, as customer input is a valued part of this conservation process, the district stated in its news release.

   
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