Daly City gets on board with water conservation measures 

click to enlarge Daly City
  • Melissa Nelson-Gabriel/AP
  • If you wash your car in Daly City, make sure you have a shutoff nozzle — or you could be fined.
Responding to one of the worst droughts in California history, Daly City is imposing conservation measures on residents and businesses that mirror San Francisco’s mandatory water use restrictions.

Under an urgency ordinance recently adopted by the City Council, residents are now prohibited from spraying down sidewalks, and cars may only be washed with hoses that have shutoff nozzles. Potable water may no longer be used in decorative fountains in the city, and watering lawns in a way that causes visible runoff or pooling of water is also prohibited.

Residents are further prohibited from watering their lawns more than two days per week, and may not water their lawns between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. According to Department of Water and Wastewater Resources Director Patrick Sweetland, water evaporates faster during those hours, and is also more likely to be blown away by wind.

The new rules are not intended to be difficult for customers to comply with, but when violations occur, fines would only be imposed as a last resort, says Sweetland.

For many, cutting back on water consumption should not be much of a transition, as most residents have demonstrated good water-use habits due to the ongoing drought, city officials said. Even before the current crisis, the city had some of the lowest water-consumption rates in the Bay Area, with the average resident using 48.8 gallons per day. The regional average is about 79.3 gallons per person per day, Sweetland said.

Like San Francisco, Daly City is hoping to see a voluntary 10 percent reduction in water use. Since January, Daly City residents have cut back by 8.9 percent, and from February through June, the city reduced water purchases from San Francisco by 23 percent. Daly City gets half of its water supply from San Francisco, Sweetland explained.

San Francisco city officials said in July that residents and businesses violating the new restrictions could face fines of up to $500. While Daly City is also prepared to levy fines, Sweetland said the city’s focus is on reaching out to residents and making water conservation a collaborative effort.

“If we have to go the enforcement route, I would consider that a failure in our ability to educate people,” Sweetland said. “We’re blessed with a common-sense, blue-collar community, and they really want to do the right thing.”

Hoping to encourage residents to take proper actions, Sweetland’s department is offering residents a host of water-saving devices, free of charge. These include the shutoff nozzles now required on car-washing hoses, more efficient showerheads and aerators for water faucets. To receive such items, call (650) 991-8200.

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