By Andie King

The Serrano Water District Board (SWD) reacted swiftly to Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate to cut water usage by 36 percent or incur penalties of up to $10,000 per day, by taking a two-pronged approach. At its April 14 meeting, a Level II Water Conservation Resolution was adapted. A week later, the board announced the promotion of Steve Sweeney to the newly-created position of water conservation specialist, to provide hands-on assistance to residents in the district.

SWD will hold a Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. on Wed., May 13 in the Villa Park Civic Center to emphasize the seriousness of the situation. Customers’ 2013 water usage will be used as a baseline. They must reduce consumption by a minimum of 36 percent, or face penalties, proposed at $100 for the first 10 percent overage; $150 for the next 10 percent increment, up to $1,000. A public hearing on May 14 will confirm the penalty structure that is slated to last, minimally, until Feb. 28, 2016, when the governor’s mandate expires. 

Water districts urge consumers to cut irritation by 50 percent. Level II restrictions build on the prior standards: watering of lawns and landscaping is limited to two days per week from April through October, and only one day per week during November to March. All leaks or malfunctions must be repaired within 48 hours. Filling or adding more than one foot of water to partially filled pools or spas is strictly prohibited after June 1. SWD water may not be used in ornamental lakes or ponds. No runoff from property, even on slopes, is permitted. Washing vehicles is prohibited, unless a bucket and hose equipped with a positive self-closing shut-off nozzle is used. 

More than you think
Individuals use an average of 520 gallons of water per day -- showers run at 2.5 gallons per minute – and families can make adjustments at home by limiting showers, running water for kitchen tasks and filling washing machines.  Serrano Water District is unique, in that properties are primarily residential with large lots. There are no apartments or condominiums with dense populations, which would decrease percapita usage. Villa Park is restricting water to plantings in the medians and greens. The four school properties, which primarily use water for irrigating sports fields, will also need to decrease water usage by the mandated 36 percent. 

One of the most effective conservation measures in the SWD service area is to reset sprinkler timers to run twice a week at 15 minutes per station, maximum. Resetting sprinklers to twice weekly, Serrano Water District General Manager Jerry Vilander asserts, will not cause lawns to turn brown or plants to die. “Now, before the summer heat, is the time to reduce watering for lawns to help properly establish the lawn and train the roots to seek deeper moisture. Infrequent deep soakings of citrus and avocado trees, shrubbery and bushes approximately every 10 days will help establish a deep root system.” 

Expert help available
SWD customers are encouraged to contact Sweeney, who, upon request, will visit homes to optimize sprinkler systems, identify water savings, and help secure applicable rebates. This concierge-level service will aid in water conservation and help keep customers’ water bills low.

The district has staff out in the field, and follows up on calls regarding runoff, daytime watering, and leaks.    

For more information and updates, or to schedule a site visit with Sweeney, see www.serranowater.org or call (714) 538-0079.

 VP City Council meeting plagued with divisive discourse