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Tap Conservation

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne Utility District (TUD) may soon ask customers to turn off their taps.

It is holding a special meeting Friday, January 17 at 2 p.m. to vote on whether to enact Phase II Water Conservation Measures. The Board is required to take a vote on implementing Phase II when the results of the February snow survey show that the anticipated runoff is expected to be less than 50% of normal and a threat of an emergency or shortage exists. The January Sierra Nevada Snowpack survey of this year showed that water content is only 20% of average for this time of year.

The TUD special meeting documents state, “We are anticipating that the February snow survey will reflect that the expected runoff will be below 50% of normal. Even if normal precipitation occurs over the next three months, we will likely need to prepare for having a limited amount of water supply this year.”

Here are TUD’s Phase II conservation measures:

Voluntary reduction in usage:

    • District to mail special notices to all water customers advising of low water year and requesting reduction from previous years usage if possible, and containing information on conservation methods as well as advising customers of the financial impact.
    • Contact high water users: District to send notices to high water use customers and initiate a water usage audit.
    • Monitor and police outside water use: District to educate the public to recognize and remedy excessive water use and waste.
    • Household use: Customers should obtain conservation kits from the District and should request assistance from the District and local plumbing supply companies on availability of low-use fixtures.
  • Outside use: Customers shall eliminate water runoff; use drip or spot irrigation methods; shut off faucet when hose is not in actual use; modify existing watering schedule and request assistance from Master Gardeners and local nurseries to promote low water use (native) plants.

In addition:

    • Fire hydrant flow testing is prohibited.
  • Restaurants shall serve water only upon customer request.

The Board will also approve whether to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 28 at 5:30 p.m. to consider implementing Phase III Water Conservation Measures. TUD says that phase can be enacted when the amount of available water supply is less than 30% of normal run-off and the District proclaims a state of emergency until projected water availability exceeds projected water demand for both the short and long-term period.

TUD agenda documents state, “Recommendations for implementing Phase III Water Conservation Measures are based on dry conditions that have occurred in December, 2013 and now, appear to be continuing into and through January, 2014. In addition, there is uncertainty in whether there will be adequate rain and snow fall in the weather forecast to provide greater than 30% run-off for the remainder of the year.”

Phase III water conservation makes all Phase II voluntary measures mandatory.

Here are the TUD’s Phase III measures:

    • Determine system reduction goals (a function of projected runoff weighed against previous years usage) and update as conditions warrant.
    • Curtail to life maintenance the watering of lawns, gardens and any other irrigation.
    • Individual plants or trees must be irrigated by the use of buckets or other containers or properly maintained irrigation drip systems. Water use which results in water running onto driveways, gutters, streets, adjoining property, and/or any other water runoff is prohibited.
    • Washing of cars, boats, trailers, or other vehicles by hose or by use of water directly from faucets or outlets connected to the public water supply is prohibited.
    • Washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, parking lots, tennis courts or other hard-surfaced areas, including commercial establishments, by hose or by use of water from faucets or other outlets connected to the public water supply is prohibited.
  • New construction service applications shall be granted upon condition that water shall be used only for interior purposes and landscaping shall be delayed until repeal of Phase Ill restrictions. Installation of landscaping prior to the repeal of Phase Ill restrictions shall be a violation of this regulation and customer’s service shall be restricted to lifeline rates by a device installed by the District.

Customers will be able to protest the adoption of Phase III measures at the public hearing. Both the special meeting and public hearing will be held at the TUD building off of Tuolumne Road in Sonora.