Cambria residents may now water their outdoor landscapes, gardens, and trees, as long as they stay within existing water limitations.
On Aug. 20, the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) amended the town’s water conservation rules, which previously prohibited the outdoor use of potable water.
The CCSD initially passed the strict water use limitations on Jan. 30, 2014, in response to the declaration of a stage 3 emergency water shortage. Since then, the community’s exceeded state mandated water conservation measures, with water use down 41 percent from 2013 levels. During that time, many residents purchased water from private purveyors in order to irrigate plants on their property.
The original unit-based restrictions will continue. Those include a two-unit per permanent resident, per month allotment, which amounts to 1,496 gallons per person, or about 50 gallons a day. Non-permanent residents may use two units per month, regardless of the number of people there. Commercial users must keep their water use at 80 percent of their historical 12-month average.
If a customer exceeds those water use limitations, a 500 percent surcharge will be applied to the bill for the first violation, and a 1,000 percent surcharge for the second.
The CCSD decided to allow outdoor water use after hearing from residents who felt that they should be able to use potable water for outdoor irrigation, as long as they did not exceed use restrictions. In addition, CCSD General Manager Jerry Gruber noted that the ability to water landscapes will help the town deal with a significant fire danger posed by the declining health of the area’s Monterey pine forest. That fire threat is exacerbated by dry and dying residential landscapes.
Residents or businesses whose street address ends in an even number may now irrigate with potable water on Tuesdays, while those whose address ends in an odd number may water on Thursdays. Non-permanent residents may water on either Saturday or Sunday. All watering must take place before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Watering may not result in excess water run-off. If these new restrictions are violated, the penalty for a first violation is $50, the second is $150, $250 for the third, and $1,000 for any further violations.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay