IMPORTANT DROUGHT NOTICE: Mandatory 36% Water Use Reduction!

I have been officially notified that Golden State Water Company has applied to the California Public Utility Commission for approval of Schedule 14.1-AC-C Staged Mandatory Water Conservation & Rationing. Approval is expected by June 1 and Stage 1 will be implemented by mid June. Information on restrictions, water allocations, enforcement measures, and surcharges from my water supplier arrived in my mailbox. A copy of the notification is available here.


A public meeting was held by GSWC May 19. The room was full and some people had to stand. I will attempt to explain the new rules as best I can.

The communique informs me of the water utilities plan to comply with Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-29-15, in which California’s water end users are forced to reduce water usage by 25%. However, my area and many districts in the Sacramento region have been mandated for a reduction of 36%. This is the highest cutback percentage in California. It has been divulged that we may soon be permitted to use only 64% of our 2013 water consumption. Here is a video clip of the meeting when they announce the extra 11%. Notice and remember that he calls it a “tiered” system.

The courts have ruled that a tiered payment system violates Proposition 218. That ruling,according to GSWC, does not apply. The question was asked. We at Couragesowers have video footage; however, the audio is muffled. The answer is quite audible. “It’s tiers are stages. They’re not tiers.”

Residential water use makes up 5% of California’s water consumption. 25% of 5% is 1.25%. In other words, we must use less than 2/3 of our normal water to save the state 1.25%. Upon leaving the meeting at our City Hall I could not help but notice the beautiful green grass and lovely pansies.

Water restrictions will consist of 5 stages.

Stage 1 consists of having outdoor watering restricted to two days per week. The day watering is allowed depends upon the last number of the street address, similar to the odd and even gas purchases during the OPEC oil embargo. I can water on Sundays and Wednesdays between the hours of 7 p.m. And 8 a.m. Failure to comply may result in the installation of a flow restricting device to regulate water usage. And of course the fee to install and to remove the aforementioned appurtenance ranges from $150-$300. The water company can change the number of watering days and specific watering days with notice. According to the water company’s website:

Outdoor Irrigation Days/Times

  • In compliance with orders from the State Water Board, Golden State Water customers may not irrigate outdoor landscapes or turf with potable water more than two days per week. Customers are encouraged to check the back of their water bill for updates. Information regarding specific outdoor irrigation days will be posted when it becomes available. All outdoor irrigation must occur before 8 am or after 7 pm. Violation of any of these prohibited or restricted water-use activities may be subject to a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each day in which the violation occurs. A public agency representative may issue a citation in accordance with locally adopted municipal codes, adopted ordinances, or in cooperation with Golden State Water.

If Stage 1 is insufficient in achieving “identified water usage goal established by an authorized government agency or official”, Stages 2-4 shall be implemented. There are also implications due to California’s attempt to eradicate senior water rights. Many areas served by GSWC will see Stage 5 quickly if the company loses it’s senior water rights dating back to 1852. Rights that far back hold a lot of water; pardon the pun. A loss of these rights could give the state the power to take as much water as they deem necessary. I would prefer water rights stay with landowners rather than having them turned over to the Agenda 21 control by the United Nations entity. That will be another article in the future…..

Customers will have a water usage baseline established based upon 2013 usage. The customer’s allocation will be the 2013 baseline less 36%, not to be less then 8 ccf per month. Households that do not have a water use history dating back to 2013 will have their allocation set to an average that will be based upon their water meter size. A cf refers to cubic feet. One cf is approximately 7.48 gallons. For billing purposes, water meters read in 100 cf increments. 748 x 8 = 5,984 gallons. This is 49.866 per person per day for a family of four in a 30 day month. All water in excess of this allocated amount shall be charged at the regular rate in addition to the following surcharge:

Stage 2 – $2.50 per ccf

Stage 3 – $5.00 per ccf

Stage 4 – $10.00 per ccf

No good deed goes unpunished. If you were responsible with water use in 2013 and conserved diligently, sorry. You will be allocated 64% of your 2013 usage and will pay surcharges for any water over that limit. Your neighbor that waters the sidewalks and has leaky pipes will get to use 64% of their 2013 consumption. If that isn’t fair, sorry. Some homes in Rancho Santa Fe used almost 600 gallons per person per day.

Implementation of Stage 5 restricts water for human health and safety purposes only. This amount shall be limited to 50 gallons Per Capita per Day!

In addition, all outdoor use of potable water shall be prohibited. The first violation of this restriction is a written warning. The second violation is a flow restrictor installed for 30 days. A third violation results in a termination of water service. This makes me wonder, can a home been deemed unfit for habitation without a potable water service? Is it possible for citizens to have their homes condemned and taken for water restriction violations? This is a fair question and will require some inquery.

Also included in Stage 5 water restrictions is an allocation of 8ccf per month. All water in excess will be charged at the regular rate in addition to $10 per ccf.

Regardless of the Stage of water restriction, there is a place on the utilities website for snitches. You do not have to be civil and speak to your neighbor; just anonymously rat them out on the Report Water Waste site.

The governor has issued a water emergency. I urge everyone in the state to read it. They left no drop untouched. Now the notice has been issued. These restrictions are going to be implemented on the residential water customers in my area. 

Golden State Water has an Application (U 133W) in to the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California for an order to authorize a decrease in rates by $1,615,400 (-.50%) in 2016. However, the same application is calling for an increase of $10,280,800 (3.21%) in 2017 and an increase of $10, 303,200 (3.12%) in 2018.

On a side note, the application also informed me of fluoridation of the water in its Arden Cordova CSA that is expected to take place during the 2016 to 2018 rate cycle. Great…. At least I have my Berkey fluoride filter ready to install into my water filter.

There are incentive programs that pay for lawn removal, installing drip systems and other water saving actions. Rain water collection is legal in California. See our article, ‘Save That Water’ and research online to see if using tree mulch is a good choice for you. The documentary, ‘Back to Eden’ and others are a good source of information.

UC Davis is a really helpful resource for researching drought resistant plants and low water gardening.

I water with rain water and I have covered my yard in free tree mulch. We have a water filter and collect the water from the shower while waiting for the hot water to reach the fixture. The water in the shower can be turned off while applying shampoo or soap. Dish rinse water can be used to water plants. Unfinished bottled water or a glass of water can be poured into the water filter for reuse. There are many good water saving ideas if you use common sense and be aware of your personal consumption.

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