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Area cities seek to comply with state water mandates

DOWNEY — The water reduction clock is ticking as area cities seek to comply with state law to reduce consumption by an average of 25 percent by February 2016.

The percentage differs among cities based on their size and reduction efforts since April 1, 2013.

Most area cities have goals of 20 percent, although the city of Pico Rivera and the Pico Water District have reduction goals of 25 percent.

State mandates include no washing of driveways and sidewalks, no washing of vehicles unless using a hose with a water cutoff nozzle, no serving of water in restaurants unless it is specifically requested by a customer, and hotels and motels must provide guests the option of not laundering towels and linens each day.

When watering lawns, water must not be allowed to flow from the grass onto adjoining properties and lawns may not be watered within 48 hours of a substantial rainfall.

Construction of new buildings is allowed but must be under certain restrictions from the California Building Standards Commission and the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

For municipalities, drinking water may not be used to irrigate grass on street medians or in fountains and public water features in parks unless that water is circulated through the fountain or water feature.

Downey Public Works Director Mohammad Mostahkami, in a report to his City Council June 23, said Downey’s state assignment is a 20 percent reduction.

Urban water suppliers such as Downey must monitor customer usage and report it to the state Water Resources Control Board each month.

Violating the state water requirements is punishable by a $500 fine for each day the violation occurs.

Under the new Downey ordinance, lawn watering is permitted between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. no more than two days a week October through April and up to three days a week from May through September, on designated water days.

Those with odd-numbered addresses may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and/or Fridays. Those with even street addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and/or Saturdays.

Watering is limited to six minutes per location under the Downey law, Mostahkami said.

Golf courses, agricultural customers and nurseries may exceed the requirements with a city permit, he added. Commercial car washes are exempt if they use recirculating water systems.

The city of Bellflower has been conserving water for several years, Public Works Director Len Gorecki said, referring to a city ordinance approved in July 2009.

He said an updated ordinance approved June 8 contains restrictions to reduce water consumption by customers and result in an undetermined revenue decrease for all water purveyors in the city. There are several private water companies operating in Bellflower, along with the municipal system.

Under the tightened ordinance, Bellflower residents may water lawns or landscapes no more than two days a week and only between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. Watering may only be done once a day.

Bellflower has been assigned a 20 percent reduction goal.

The city has altered its rules to allow artificial turf, which needs no water, in some areas.

Norwalk on July 7 gave final approval to a revised landscaping law that for the first time allows artificial turf.

Assistant City Manager Gary Di Corpo said Norwalk will seek a grant from the Commerce-based Central Basin Municipal Water District to install drought-resistant plants in public medians.

The city allows its customers to water their lawns for 15-minute intervals between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays only.

Norwalk’s state assigned goal is a 20 percent reduction.

The regional Metropolitan Water District is providing grants to replace grass with drought-resistant plants or artificial turf and a Paramount law approved June 2 offers residents financial help to do so.

Public Works Director Christopher Cash said $20,000 has been budgeted to provide at least 20 residences with financial help to convert their lawns.

As an example, the city has installed gardens with drought-resistant plants at the city yard, 15300 Downey Ave.; the Firehouse Community Center, 15538 Colorado Ave.; and at 14929 Garfield Ave. Cash said.

In addition, an artificial turf lawn is on display at 8425 Jefferson St.

The city has previously decided to truck in recycled water to irrigate street medians and allows law watering just twice a week, Mondays and Thursday during summer months and just on Monday from November through March.

Paramount has been given a 20 percent reduction goal after reducing usage by 12 percent the past two years.

Huntington Park has been assigned a 12 percent reduction goal, City Engineer Michael Ackerman said.

It allows watering of lawns between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

In South Gate, the City Council took action June 23 to tighten up its water regulations to meet the 12 percent reduction goal.

Public Works Director Arturo Cervantes said the new ordinance would mean a loss of $2.4 million to the city municipal system if there is total compliance.

The South Gate ordinance matches restrictions listed by other communities, along with the provision to immediately notify a customer if a leak might exist in the property owner’s system.

Lawn watering in South Gate is allowed between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

South Gate conducted a public meeting June 24 at City Hall and distributed water conservation kits to the first 100 attendees, Cervantes said.

The Santa Fe Springs City Council approved a proposal to limit lawn watering from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays for properties north of Lakeland Road and on Tuesdays and Fridays during evening hours on property south of Lakeland.

McCormack recommended that the north and south watering schedules be adopted for watering median landscapes, even though the reduced watering would turn the grass brown but not kill it.

He noted that most medians are irrigated with reclaimed water, which is permitted, but said the city should set an example for residents and avoid complaints from residents.

Other lawn-watering restrictions for area cities include:

• Alhambra, between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. twice a week, either on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday (choose two).

• Bell, no regulations at this time, a city spokesperson said.

• Bell Gardens, between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, for 15 minutes per location (front and back yard) from April through October.

• Commerce, city regulations are pending. Residents may call their private water company for information, a city spokesperson said.

• Cudahy has no specific limitations but residents are asked not to overwater by allowing water to flow onto driveways and sidewalks, a spokesperson said.

• Lynwood allows lawn watering between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

• Maywood, no city laws, residents should contact their private water providers.

• Montebello, two days a week, those with even-numbered addresses on Tuesdays and Fridays, Mondays and Thursdays for those with odd-numbered addresses. Watering should be limited to 10 minutes during evening hours.

• Monterey Park on Mondays and Thursdays between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m.

• Pico Rivera residents may water based on street addresses. Those with even numbers may water on Tuesdays and Thursday, those with odd numbers on Mondays and Wednesdays, for periods of up to 15 minutes per location.

• Suburban Water Systems, which serves part of Whittier, three days a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for even-numbered addresses and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses.

• Whittier, which serves about 65 percent of the community, Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for even-numbered addresses and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for odd-numbered addresses.