Pismo Beach imposes mandatory water-use restrictions

Pismo Beach City Hall.
Pismo Beach City Hall. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the city of Pismo Beach will have access to stored state water held at Santa Margarita Lake; the water is actually stored at San Luis Reservoir.

Pismo Beach officials imposed some mandatory water-use restrictions on Tuesday, while at the same time assuring local residents that the city has an “abundant supply” of water.

In response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of a drought emergency last month, the Pismo Beach City Council set a moderately restricted supply condition.

Council members Kris Vardas and Erik Howell were absent.

Under the restrictions, outdoor irrigation is banned between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and water should not be used to clean driveways, patios, parking lots or streets except by the city-contracted street sweeper.

A hose with a shut-off valve is required when washing vehicles, boats or buildings, and use of potable water for dust-control purposes in construction is prohibited.

In addition, restaurants shall serve drinking water only in response to a customer request.

“It’s not the water in the glass, it’s the washing of the glass that’s the problem,” said Pismo Beach public works director Ben Fine.

He suggested residents consider conservation measures such as not using the garbage disposal, turning off water while brushing teeth, running full loads in the dishwasher and installing low-flow toilets.

Installing a low-flow showerhead, for example, could save 15 gallons in a 10-minute shower, he said.

Residents who violate the restrictions could face graduated consequences, starting with a notice and escalating to possible shut-off of their water.

Similar restrictions are already in place in other nearby cities, including Arroyo Grande and Morro Bay. In January, Arroyo Grande officials said they would increase their monitoring and enforcement of the water use restrictions.

Grover Beach declared a Stage 2 water shortage last August, asking residents to comply voluntarily with a range of water conservation efforts.

Brown officially declared the emergency on Jan. 17, asking Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

On Jan. 31, state officials announced that agencies can expect zero water deliveries from the State Water Project this summer, which is operated by the California Department of Water Resources.

Despite the dry conditions, Pismo Beach has an ample water supply, Fine said. The city draws its water from groundwater, Lopez Lake and the State Water Project.

Even without its annual allocation of state water, the city will have access this year to 896 acre-feet of water from Lopez; about 300 acre-feet of surplus Lopez water (unused water from the previous year's allocation); 700 acre feet of groundwater; and about 1,200 acre feet of stored state water (which is currently held at San Luis Reservoir).

The typical annual demand in Pismo Beach is about 2,100 acre-feet of water a year, Fine said.

Pismo's historical average rainfall is about 19 inches a year. The city recorded 4.13 inches in 2013.

The council also approved a series of enforcement steps.

First, residents would receive a notice of a violation and be given time to correct the problem. The city engineer would then send a letter to the property owner notifying them of the violation, and then issue fines of $100 for the second violation, $200 for the third violation and $500 for each additional violation.

If the city does not receive a response from the water account holder or property owner within 14 days, it may shut off the water, though doing so would only occur in an extreme case, Fine said.

For more information, go to www.pismobeach.org/index.aspx?NID=424.

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