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Drought Forces New Rules on Lawn Watering

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Fresno, CA -- Fresno City officials announced that they are restricting lawn watering to two days a week, effective August 1st, according to the Fresno Bee today.

Depending on odd/even addresses, residents may water Tues/Saturday or Wed/Sunday. No watering will be allowed on Mondays, Thursdays, or Fridays.

In addition, watering restrictions include time of day---limited to evenings and early mornings (after 7pm and before 6am).

Drought Response for Cities

Up till now, water distribution in suburban California has seemed normal--so normal that State officials are forced to acknowledge failure in voluntary efforts at water conservation.

After declaring the drought emergency in January, Governor Edmund Brown, Jr. urged Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

But like everyone else, Californians take pride in activities such as washing their cars, watering shade trees, and maintaining well-kept lawns or swimming pools.

So two weeks ago, the State Water Resouces Board passed a mandate for fines of $500 a day for residents who waste potable water for watering lawns, landscaping, and carwashing.

State Water Resources Control Board official Felicia Marcus told the media:

We are facing the worst drought impact that we or our grandparents have ever seen. And, more important, we have no idea when it will end. This drought’s impacts are being felt by communities all over California. Fields are fallowed; communities are running out of water, fish and wildlife will be devastated. The least that urban Californians can do is to not waste water on outdoor uses.

Last Tuesday, an emergency regulation also passed in an effort to ensure agencies and state residents increase both indoor and outdoor water conservation.

No Sign When Drought Will End

The impact of the loss of federal irrigation waters and wells running dry have begun taking a toll on Valley farmers. Statewide, the total irrigated cropland fallowed amounts to 5% (an estimated 428,000 acres), but 70% of its impact affects ranchers and growers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, according to a recent study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science.

Small farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are also having to rely on irrigation wells, and drawing against competing interests with a limited and lowering water table, warns Gary Serrato, general manager of the Fresno Irrigation District.

Somewhere amid the 1.2 billion dollar federal drought package proposed earlier this year by President Obama is money for small farmers, but how much will trickle down in time to help save rural residents is the big question.

"We know there are wells going dry all over the Valley and we have had lots of different farmers contacting us," Russ Friend, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Service Agency office told the Fresno Bee. "But even if we could get the money to farmers tomorrow, they may have to wait until January to get a new well."

Modeling Water Conservation

The key to getting consumers to retool their concepts on water consumption in urban living may lay in persuasive marketing or other incentives.

For instance, "water agencies are being asked to step up their programs to fix leaks and other sources of water loss, use more recycled water or captured stormwater."

News media are also encouraged to do their share in providing tips on conservation, whether it's limiting toilet flushing, showering times, clothes washing, or use of dishwashers.

Today's fashionable app includes Lady Gaga at SaveOurWater.com, a website devoted entirely to saving water.

As for planning ahead, Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd stated,

The rains will return some day. Fresno must be ready to reap the bounty, for another drought will surely follow in the cycle of life. That means building the infrastructure now to capture or reuse every drop of water at Fresno's disposal.

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