EMWD Shifts to Mandatory Water Restrictions

The Eastern Municipal Water District sent us a press release earlier this week announcing that the water conservation efforts it had once su...

The Eastern Municipal Water District sent us a press release earlier this week announcing that the water conservation efforts it had once suggested to residents and businesses are now mandatory.

The EMWD board of directors at it's June 17 meeting declared Stage 2 conservation measures in its water shortage contingency plan effective immediately.

As examples, hosing down hard surfaces, daytime lawn watering, allowing runoff and leaks will now be prohibited, rather than requested.

In the case of allowing water to runoff into the street, for example, penalties will start at $25 after one warning for excessive water runoff at single-family homes. Penalties can be increased to $50 or $100 for subsequent violations within a year of the first violation warning.

The same types of comparable waste at multi-family, commercial, industrial, institutional and landscape accounts are subject to penalties of $100, $200 and $300.

But the EMWD doesn't expect shifting to mandatory conservation efforts will make much of an impact, because they said the vast majority of their customers are already making efforts to monitor how they use water and eliminate waste. For the most part, EMWD customers are doing what the district has asked of them and are staying within their first two billing tiers.

The district is also keeping it's four-tiered rates where they are. They had once considered doubling the highest tier-4 rate for flagrant waste.

The complete list of mandatory water efficiency requirements are:

  • Refrain from hosing down driveways and other hard surfaces, except for health or sanitary reasons, and then only by use of a hand-held bucket or similar container, a handheld hose equipped with a positive self-closing water shut-off device, or a low volume, high-pressure cleaning machine equipped to recycle any water used.

  • Repair faucets, toilets, pipes, and other potential sources of water leaks.

  • Irrigate landscape only between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. This provision does not apply when:
    • Manually watering during the establishment period of a new landscape;
    • Temperatures are predicted to fall below freezing;
    • For very short periods of time for the express purpose of adjusting or repairing an irrigation system.

  • Refrain from watering or irrigating of any lawn, landscape, or other vegetated area with potable water using a landscape irrigation system or watering device that is not continuously attended unless it is limited to no more than 15 minutes watering per day per station. This 15-minute limitation can be extended for:
    • Landscape irrigation systems that exclusively use very low-flow drip irrigation systems when no emitter produces more than two (2) gallons of water per hour.
    • Weather-based controllers or stream rotor sprinklers that meet a 70% efficiency. But runoff or over watering is not permitted in any case.

  • Adjust and operate all landscape irrigation systems in a manner which will maximize irrigation efficiency and avoid over-watering or watering of hardscape and the resulting runoff.

  • Refrain from watering or irrigating any lawn, landscape, or other vegetated area that causes or allows excessive water flow or runoff onto an adjoining sidewalk, driveway, street, alley, gutter, or ditch.

  • Do not use decorative fountains unless they are equipped with a recycling system.

  • Do not allow water to run while washing vehicles. Use a bucket or similar container and/or a handheld hose equipped with a positive self-closing water shut-off device to avoid runoff into gutters, streets, or alleys.

  • When installing new landscaping, plant low-water demand trees and plants. Do not incorporate non-functional turf areas.

  • Refrain from watering during rain.

EMWD depends on The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) for 70 to 80 percent of the water served for 135,000 customers in Riverside County.

Beginning July 1, MWD sets mandatory reductions to its 26 member agencies. Although these upcoming reductions affect regional and local water agencies differently, the net result is an about 10 percent cut in water supply, with a nearly 20 percent rate hike beginning Sept. 1, 2009. In addition, hefty penalties will be levied against water agencies that exceed their allocations.

Since water sales peaked for EMWD in 2006-07, the demands by domestic water customers—meaning residents, businesses, and institutions—have declined by 17 percent.

EMWD's board believes continuing reduced customer demands will keep EMWD within MWD's allocations. They have also made a commitment to leave rates alone at least until January 2010 through additional internal budget cuts and project deferrals.

MWD's allocations on regional water agencies were agreed to last April as a way to address state-wide water shortages caused by record dry conditions in Southern California and court-ordered water pumping cutbacks from Northern California's Bay-Delta into the California Aqueduct.

You can read the EMWD's water shortage contingency plan at...

You can also learn about the tiered rate structure at...


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  1. I believe this has been mentioned elsewhere on this site, but I wanted to provide a reminder.

    The water tiers and the amount of water each house is allotted each month are based on 3 people per household. If you have more than 3 people living in your house, you need to contact EMWD and let them know.

  2. I've done that and there are other reasons besides having more than 3 people in the household, like having a pool. You can call them and they will mail you the form. You can probably request the form on their website too.

  3. PonyBoy, last year when the EMWD proposed the tiered water rates, I asked their public relations guy if families with pools would be penalized. They said "no", because they did studies showing that the water needed to keep a pool filled is the same amount used to keep a backyard lawn green. So, pool or no pool, you're still using the same amount of water. I hope the EMWD is sticking to that answer, because I have a pool too.

  4. I believe the reason for "declaring" the pool is they will allow you to drain and fill it once every five years and not be charged the higher rates for that month.


  5. Well I actually have the request right here because I haven't mailed it in yet :)

    You can request an increased water allocation for the following reasons:
    1. Residents per household
    2. Licensed Elder or Child Care Facility
    3. Medical needs
    4. Irrigated landscape area - you need to submit square ft and drawing of area, I don't totally get this one
    5. Pools, pools w/spas, ponds (filled once every 5 years)
    6. Large animals (100+ #'s each)
    7. Other (state your case + documentation)

    No idea how they figure once per 5 years on your bill but I checked it anyway. We actually use very little water but 6 people in the house plus a pool, might as well mark it all down.

  6. You can print the form off of their website and fax it to them. I did that - it is quicker that way.

  7. People with pools should be charged a premium for the amount of water used to fill up a 20-40k gallon pool.....why shouldn't they? Water is a declining natural resource needed to live, not to swim in

  8. There is more water on this planet than any other natural resource that we use. Just extract the salt and you have more than enough.

  9. De-Salinazation is it. Some countries get all fresh water supplied from de-salinazation.

    I believe that during a water crisis it should be mandatory the the pools be covered when not in use! You would be amazed how much water evaporates from an uncovered pool every day.

  10. Desalinization has problems, namely how do you deliver millions of gallons of water from the ocean to the consumers, using an infrastructure that relies on gravity?

  11. How many desalination plants are there? 1 in FL and 1 hopefully sometime this decade in Carlsbad......If I am going to get a fine for watering my grass, washing my vehicles, the rules and regs should be just as tight (if not tighter) on a pool. Especially in the IE the evaporation rate is HUGE! IMO if you want to go swimming go to the beach, plus there is eye candy there :)

  12. Ok POOLS are not the only waste of water. So are leaky faucets, poor watering habits, excessive showers, washing your car and many more.

  13. It's certainly a lot of water to fill up a pool, but yeah, things like leaky sprinklers can also add up big time. I tell our neighbors about a bad sprinkler, by the time he gets around to fixing it he's got another one. He loses a LOT of water in his driveway and sidewalk. And for that matter, those who have a pool usually have a pretty big area of concrete to go along with it, combined that is a very big area that most others would have grass, shrubs, trees or something else requiring water. We've got a pool and four kids and a whole bunch of pets, still have a much smaller water bill than any of our friends or neighbors I've talked to about it.

  14. Anonymous