Coachella Valley Water District Approves Plan to Cut Water Waste

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015 residents lined up for their chance to comment on possible water restrictions during a Coachella Valley Water District board meeting in Palm Desert, Calif. CVWD board president, John Powell said residents' input greatly influenced the board's overall strategy for reducing water waste.
On Tuesday, April 28, 2015 residents lined up for their chance to comment on possible water restrictions during a Coachella Valley Water District board meeting in Palm Desert, Calif. CVWD board president, John Powell said residents’ input greatly influenced the board’s overall strategy for water conservation.

CHRISTIAN MENDEZ/ Coachella Unincorporated

PALM DESERT — The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) Board of Directors approved water restrictions and penalties last week, as part of a strategy to meet the state-mandated 36 percent reduction in water usage.

In April, Governor Jerry Brown ordered all water agencies statewide to reduce their water usage by 25 percent. An assessment released in April identified four water agencies in the Coachella Valley as among the highest per-capita water users in the state. These four water suppliers, including CVWD, have been ordered to reduce their water usage by 36 percent, the maximum reduction ordered by the state.

Castulo Estrada, CVWD Representative for Division 5, which includes the eastern Coachella Valley, said the water agency was well prepared for creating a water reduction plan.

“About a year ago, the governor called for a state of emergency, a state of drought, a voluntary 20 percent water reduction,” Estrada said. “It wasn’t a mandate yet. We live in the desert; we are constantly in droughts. Just because the rest of the state is in a drought, does not mean that we are new to this. As we have dealt with droughts before; this is part of our water management plan.”

The measures approved by CVWD include prohibiting applying water to any hard surface like driveways and sidewalks and prohibiting the irrigation of ornamental turf.  In addition to the restrictions on when and where water can be used, residents are required to reduce their total monthly outdoor water use by 36 percent. Though the restrictions go into effect immediately, fines for not complying will not start showing up on residents’ bills till July.

Estrada said creating a water reduction plan is not something new for the CVWD, whose main goal is to sustain local aquifers. For the past year CVWD has been working on incentive programs which provide financial benefits to residents who enroll in water conservation initiatives.

Before the board of directors finalized the water restrictions and fines, it heard public comments during two meetings in April. John Powell, the CVWD board president, said the board took those comments into consideration while finalizing the measures.

“This water-conservation strategy is based on all that input. The public has shaped this process to a great degree,” said Powell in a CVWD news release on Tuesday.

Public input helped start the “water school” for residents who receive a second fine for water waste after an initial written warning. Water wasters can be fined $50 for their second offense, unless they complete the water conservation education program. However, if water waste continues, residents can be fined $100 for a third offense, and $200 for their fourth offense.

In addition to new water regulations, the CVWD hopes community members will be proactive in fighting water waste. Residents are encouraged to anonymously report water wasters online at www.cvwd.org or by calling the Water Waste Helpline at (888) 398-5008.

 More information on the new water restrictions and penalties can be found on www.cvwd.org.

 Five Easy Ways To Reduce Water Usage:

1. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk or driveway.

2. Change your landscape to a drought-resistant landscape. Replace your grass with desert plants that require minimal care and watering.

3. Check for leaks in your pipes, hoses and faucets. Even small leaks can waste gallons of water a day.

4. Get a hose nozzle to stop wasting water while you wash your car with soap, that way you only use a small amount of water for rinsing the car.

5. Turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth or washing dishes. By doing this, you can save more than eight gallons of water a day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

This list was created by students from the Environmental Youth Alliance in Coachella, Calif. 

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