Grass will be a goner in places around Paso Robles this summer as residents and businesses undergo tighter water restrictions on outdoor irrigation in accordance with new state mandates.
The biggest change, city officials say, is that users must cut back to watering their lawns two days a week starting May 15, compared with previous years’ water restrictions that allowed for irrigation three days a week.
Meanwhile, the city will let decorative turf die on city medians and at some municipal facilities such as City Hall and the Public Safety Center.
However, grass used for recreation at city parks and sports fields is safe.
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This week, the Paso Robles City Council brought back its Level II water shortage condition — the same level it has adopted every May through September since 2009, except for 2011 when the measures were suspended.
“We’re calling this an enhanced Level II,” city water manager Christopher Alakel said.
The “enhanced” conditions will help the city comply with Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent mandatory water cutbacks that call for a 25 percent statewide reduction in water use, though some cities need to reduce more or less based on their residential per capita consumption.
The state’s restrictions will be in place June 2015 to February 2016.
Paso Robles must reduce its water consumption by 19 percent compared to its 2014 usage, Alakel said.
If the city doesn’t make progress on meeting the state’s mandates, the City Council in August will look at implementing penalties for excessive water use.
“We’ll be looking at creating baselines for users,” Alakel said. “And if you use over your allocation, you’ll be fined.” That allocation will be 25 units per household per month for single-family residential. A unit is 748 gallons.
Paso Robles’ new mandatory outdoor irrigation schedule divides residences and businesses into two zones and dictates the days each can irrigate. The first zone can water on Tuesdays and Saturdays and includes properties north of 13th Street and Creston, Sherwood and Linne roads.
The second zone can water on Wednesdays and Sundays for properties south of 13th Street and Creston, Sherwood and Linne roads.
“I’m telling people, if you’re used to three-day-a-week watering, drop the middle day,” Alakel said.
Citywide, landscape irrigation is prohibited on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and from the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. any day.
The following activities are also not allowed:
• Washing vehicles or boats except with a bucket or hose with a shut-off nozzle (this rule doesn’t include commercial car-washing facilities).
• Washing of sidewalks, driveways and streets unless it alleviates hazards.
• Excessive water runoff.
Additionally, the state’s new rules say potable water can’t be used for watering:
• Street median turf.
• Ornamental landscaping and lawns within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
• Outside newly constructed homes and buildings not delivered by drip or micro-spray systems.
Violators of these measures will receive two warnings from the city and then various fines thereafter.
For the city, the cutbacks to street median turf mean crews are working to change overhead irrigation systems to drip systems, so while the grass will die, the trees and shrubs landscaped around it will not.
Some examples of where street median turf exists in the city are on River Oaks Drive and on South River Road alongside the Woodland Plaza I and II shopping centers where Wal-Mart and Albertsons are located.
For more information, visit the city’s water website, www.pasowater.com.