EMWD Supports State Action in Urging Water Conservation

Because of new legislation, HOAs cannot fine homeowners who choose to conserve water and let the...

Because of new legislation, HOAs cannot fine homeowners who choose to conserve water and let their lawns turn brown. EMWD urges Menifee residents not to water their lawn more than twice a week.
If you're melting after just a few minutes in this Menifee heat, think about how thirsty your lawn must be.

Unfortunately, it's becoming more and more difficult to maintain that emerald green lawn these days. Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown declared California to be in a drought last January, residents have been urged to cut back on watering for landscaping purposes and other water use not considered to be essential.

On July 15, the State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency regulation to ensure water agencies and their customers increase water conservation during what is considered one of California's worst droughts ever.

As residents have tried to comply with the request to conserve water, many have felt trapped in a Catch-22 situation regarding yard maintenance. Like others across the state, Menifee residents have complained that after reducing their landscape watering, they were threatened with fines by their Homeowners Association when the lawn began to turn brown.

This week, that threat was eliminated. Assembly Bill 2100, signed into law by Gov. Brown July 21, prohibits HOAs from fining residents if they let their lawn go. With that legislation in effect and no end in sight for the drought, water companies are re-emphasizing the need for restrictions in water use.

After a meeting of Eastern Municipal Water District executives this week, EMWD officials made plans to "strongly urge" Menifee residents to water their lawns and outdoor plants no more than twice a week. Other water conservation methods suggested are in line with the State Water Board, which asks residents to:

-- Refrain from washing down driveways and sidewalks.
-- Stop using a hose to wash a motor vehicle.
-- Avoid using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature unless the water is recirculated.

Kevin Pearson, public affairs officer for EMWD, said the agency has not imposed any fines for excessive water use by Menifee residents. However, he reminds customers that the company's tiered usage plan remains in effect. If customers exceed the monthly water usage alloted to them based on the number of residents and outdoor square footage, rates will increase.

"As reservoir and ground water levels continue to drop, we are asking residents to make the sacrifice and conserve water," Pearson said.

According to Pearson, EMWD is now operating under Stage 2 of its water conservation plan. On Aug. 20, officials will meet to discuss whether it is necessary to move to Stage 3. If that takes place, there would be restrictions on things such as filling swimming pools and watering of new landscaping.

"We're in a drought of historic proportions," Pearson said. "We have to see this as a wake-up call."

Before EMWD went to its tiered water usage plan in 2008, the average customer was using 176 gallons of water per day, Pearson said. Today, the average has been reduced to 145 gallons per day.

Customers can look at their water bill for information about their water usage and what their allotment is. For more information, call EMWD at 951-928-3777 or visit the EMWD website.

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