2015 is now the driest and hottest year on record and Ranch residents will face a new set of water restrictions starting next week.
On Tuesday, the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) held a town hall meeting at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club where community residents were allowed to ask questions and learn more about the upcoming water cutbacks. It was announced that the community’s supply of local water at Lake Hodges has run out and measures to cut back water are crucial. Consequently, the number of days residents and businesses are allowed to water will be limited to 2 times per week in an effort to reduce water use by 45%.
On July 1, water use restrictions will be elevated to level 3. This means customers will get about 11,000 gallons (about 15 units) of water for basic needs per two-month billing period.
According to the SFID, Level 3 water restrictions include:
Assigned Irrigation Schedule:
- ODD number addresses can water on Sunday and Thursday; EVEN number addresses can water on Saturday and Wednesday. Apartments, Condominiums & Businesses are allowed to water on Monday and Friday.
- Irrigation Times: Irrigate landscape before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on your assigned day for no more than 10 minutes per station.
- Stop Inefficient Irrigation: Eliminate irrigation overspray; irrigate with buckets or with hoses that have automatic shut-off valves; no irrigating within 48 hours of a measurable rain event.
- Minimize outdoor water waste: Avoid washing down paved surfaces except for health and safety reasons - use a broom instead.
- Wash cars only at car wash facilities that recycle or use high pressure/low volume systems.
Fines for those who exceed their allocation can reach up to $3.40 per hundred cubic feet (HCF); 1 HCF = 748 gallons. Those who exceed over the 15% limit will have to pay up to $6.79 per HCF and flagrant violators will have flow restrictors installed and water service may ultimately be shut off.
There is an appeals process for those who exceed the allocation. Those whose high water usage was a result of a malfunction in the meter or a billing error by the Water District will be allowed to file for an appeal. Likewise, customers who can prove that they suffered from an undetected water leak should notify the District of the leak at least 5 days prior to the bill due date; they must also demonstrate that the leak has been repaired. Appeals may also be submitted for health and safety reasons.
If the drought continues to worsen, water districts like the SFID may be faced with taking even more dramatic measures. However, they might not be necessary in the immediate future in light of even more federal aid. On June 24, the federal government provided California, the nation’s top agricultural producer, with an additional $150 million to help aid its drought programs.
Several bills were introduced in Congress Thursday by Republican David Valadao that would act as a short-term solution to ease the burden on California's economy. However, only time will tell when the water shortage will let up.