Garden Grove, Westminster Among Cities Tightening Water Restrictions

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Garden Grove and Westminster city officials voted to increase citywide water restrictions earlier this week, to come into compliance with a new statewide mandate issued by Gov. Jerry Brown at the beginning of April.

Cities around the state are scrambling to meet the requirements of a directive issued by Brown on April 1, which called for cities and towns statewide to cut their water usage by 25 percent. Municipalities have until May 11 to comply with the governor’s order.

At their meeting Tuesday, the Garden Grove City Council increased its water shortage alert to a Level 2 Water Alert, which includes the following restrictions:

  • Outdoor watering is limited to 6 pm-10 am, and must be done with a device with a shut-off nozzle or through a drip irrigation system
  • Outdoor watering is limited to designated days, which are based on an odd or even last digit of an address, corresponding to odd or even numbered days of the week
  • Except for commercial car washes, washing vehicles is limited to 6am-6pm on designated days
  • Operating ornamental fountains is prohibited
  • Filling swimming pools, ponds, etc. only allowed on designated days

According to Garden Grove Public Works Director William Murray, the city hasn’t updated its municipal code regarding water restrictions for almost seven years and will likely need to amend the code to match new state requirements.

“Changing a municipal ordinance takes about two months, and [the state] is giving us a month and a half to get these changes done,” said Murray.

The city currently does not issue fines for violating mandatory restrictions. Residents caught violating the ordinance are issued a “stern letter” and are required to fix the problem within 24 hours, Murray said.

If they fail to comply, the city can install a flow restricting device for a few days, and after that, shut off the residence’s water entirely for 24 hours. A $150 fee is required to get water turned back on.

“There’s only so much [the city] can do — it really needs to be the customer who starts to conserve,” said Murray.

The Westminster City Council also voted Wednesday night to increase its water shortage alert to Level 2. Mandatory restrictions include:

  • Outdoor watering is limited to three days a week, except for November through March, when watering can only occur once a week.
  • An obligation to fix leaks and breaks within 72 hours of a city notice
  • Refilling ornamental lakes and ponds is prohibited
  • Residential swimming pools can only be refilled with up to 18 inches of water, while filling new pools is prohibited altogether

According to Public Works Director Marwan Youssef, the city has already started denying requests for new residential swimming pools, as new restrictions would not allow them to be filled anyway.

Youssef said those restrictions will be enforced with some flexibility based on circumstances.

The city will also let existing turf on street medians to go brown, Youssef said.

Councilwoman Diana Carey suggested spraying the dead grass with green paint, a practice that has grown in popularity during the drought.

To find out more about how you can save water, go to www.ocwatersmart.com.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.