Thanks mostly to a higher than average amount of rain, Paso Robles has eased its mandatory water conservation measures that have occurred each summer since June 2009.
Total rain recorded at the Paso Robles Water Yard for the 2010-11 season ending June 30 is nearly 22 inches, according to the city. That’s up considerably from the long-term average of 14 inches.
As well, some residents have taken permanent steps to save water, such as replacing grassy lawns with drought-tolerant ground cover and plants. The city offers a rebate program for such measures.
“We see that disparity between supply and demand is shrinking,” water manager Christopher Alakel said.
As a result, the City Council on Tuesday downgraded Paso Robles’ shortage level, meaning residents won’t be limited on when and how often they water their lawns.
But a host of other measures, such as restaurants only serving water when asked, are still in place.
In the past two summers, water demand exceeded supply by 20 percent. Paso Robles’ nearly 29,000 residents were required to limit watering lawns to three days a week on a rotating schedule determined by region.
Those rules took effect again on May 1, but Tuesday’s action invalidates them.
Still, the city is encouraging residents to voluntarily reduce use by 10 percent this summer to keep a healthy gap between supply and demand. To do that, residents can adhere to the three-day weekly watering schedule and limit watering to before 9 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
City officials will keep an eye on usage by continuing to encourage efficient irrigation, drought-tolerant landscaping and participation in incentive programs. Staff will also continue to compare the daily water supply with daily demand.
The city’s water conservation system ranges from cutting use by 10 percent to 50 percent or more.